Contrary to the common image of meditation described above, meditation practice can take place almost anywhere: outdoors, during lunch breaks, laying down, standing up, or even when washing the dishes, out for a walk or doing yoga. The only requirement is an environment that is both comfortable and free of distraction; no phones, loud music, pets, or uncomfortable clothing should be present or in use, as they will divert attention from the focus of the session. The use of poses (asanas), hand gestures (mudras) and chants (mantras) is encouraged for reaching a deeper state of consciousness, but there is no such thing as a correct posture for meditation; everyone has varying physical and mental responses to different methods and practices, and comfort is the most important factor when trying to clear and focus the mind.
Especially for beginner meditators, clearing the mind can be very difficult; thoughts often immediately begin to fill the mind when meditating, particularly ones that are providing the most concern, anger or excitement. But instead of pushing them away, every approaching thought should be allowed to make an entrance; once a thought has surfaced, it should be individually observed with an open and understanding mind before it’s released and let go — letting go can often be difficult, but if you focus on the goal that you are trying to achieve and the reasons you wish to achieve it, over time you will be able to redirect your thoughts back to the goal immediately and with ease. Once you understand the simple truth that, regardless of the issue, letting your mind worry or stress over something is unnecessary and fruitless, you’ll be able to accept that your focus goal is more important; after this, letting go of these concerns will come more easily. Additionally, once a thought is no longer a cause of stress and your mind can observe it clearly, you will be better equipped to address the issue. Clearing your mind while simultaneously focusing on one specific goal may seem contradictory, but with regular practice the need to purposely drive thoughts toward the goal will diminish. Even after the meditation sessions end, this will gradually become the natural response to negative thoughts and emotions.
Benefits of Meditation
While many concerns and worries are warranted, allowing these thoughts to preoccupy your mind will typically have little to no positive effects; it can, however, lead to anxiety, depression, confusion and even high blood pressure and other health issues. But when it comes to all around mental and physical well-being, meditation is the best medication; by addressing unnecessary or intrusive thoughts using meditation, breathing exercises (pranayama) and mantras, all of the negative effects of constant stress can be prevented and reversed. Research even suggests that daily meditation can activate metabolic energy, mitochondrial function and telomere maintenance; in layman’s terms, it can support and maintain healthy weight, increase energy levels and even fight or prevent cancer. These results begin to occur almost immediately, and become more pronounced and effective as practice continues.
In addition to increased energy, decreased stress levels and health support, meditation is also beneficial in attaining mental tranquility, self-awareness and acceptance, spiritual meaning and pain relief. As meditation is practiced more frequently and a deeper relationship with the inner self is established, it can also be used as a means of understanding and unlocking emotional and creative expression. By becoming more accepting of oneself and letting go of constant worries or concerns, life becomes more peaceful; because thoughts about the past, present and future are released during meditation, feelings of longing, suffering and anger are quieted in everyday life.