How to meditate easily and efficiently? The basics, a few tips, different altered states of consciou
Meditation is a spiritual technique as old as the world itself, it is present in different forms across all religions and spiritual practices. It was brought to the Western world through the ever growing interest in Buddhism and Yoga.
There are hundreds of different meditation techniques, among them: Transcendental meditation, Mindfulness meditation, Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, Taoist meditation, etc…
I will give you here the basics of meditation without following a specific technique in order to meditate easily and efficiently.
A lot of the benefits of meditation are now validated by science. But most of the spiritual cultures across the globe didn’t wait for the validation of science to benefit from it!
Among the benefits of meditation studies show there is a remarkable decrease of brain activity. In a normal waking state our brain operates with Beta waves, in meditative state brain waves lower down to Alpha (the waves of relaxation, state of hypnosis) and sometimes even deeper in deep meditation (Theta). Paradoxically, the transcendental state measured on monks and nuns in meditation is the one with the highest levels of brain activity: the Gamma state. It was shown that Gamma is associated with the state of pure compassion, peak concentration and high levels of cognitive functioning. Gamma rays are the ones we find in nuclear explosions and thunder, they are that powerful! High-level athletes, exceptional musicians and high-achievers in all fields produce far more Gamma waves than average. Gamma is in fact the state we experience when we are completely in alignment with our Higher selves, it is also the state of channeling. All of these states can be achieved through meditation.
During meditation we notice a decrease of activity in the parts of the brain linked to negative emotion like depression, egocentrism, unhappiness or dissatisfaction.
On the contrary, we notice a high level of activity in the parts of the brain linked to positive emotions like happiness, enthusiasm, joy and self-control.
Meditation helps us to center ourselves, become conscious of our inner self and being more present to ourselves and others even outside of meditation. It teaches us empathy and compassion, it reduces stress and anxiety. It teaches us how to free ourselves from mental slavery and ultimately it guides us to find Source or God within ourselves and find enlightenment.
Contrary to a widespread belief, meditation helps us to ground ourselves into the material world if we set the intention to. It enables us to take a step back and see through the Maya, the veil of Illusion. It enables us to come in contact with our Higher selves, our guides, angels, nature spirits and other beings of light.
Daily meditation allows us to cleanse ourselves energetically, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Oftentimes we feel the need to yawn, tears flow on our cheeks, and burps come out. All of these signs show we are in fact cleansing a lot of stuff during meditation. Like our daily shower we purify ourselves of all the impurities.
Choosing the right posture:
Traditionally it is recommended to sit down in cross-legged position, lotus, or half-lotus on the ground on a carpet or meditation cushion (zafu). This posture allows us to stay alert and its verticality connects us with the cosmos through the crown chakra and earth through the root chakra, letting the energy flow freely. In this posture we must pay attention to relax our shoulders and arms and keep a straight spine, chin is slightly tucked in. In the beginning this posture might seem very uncomfortable but with time and practice it will become a second nature. There are different hand positions called mudras, but in a basic meditation we can rest our hands softly on our knees. If meditating in the morning palms facing the sky to receive cosmic energy, in the evening palms facing down to give energy to Mother earth.
If we have back, joint problems or arthrosis and the sitting position is too painful we can sit on a chair (making sure both feet are flat on the ground and hands on the knees) or we can lay down (this enables deep relaxation but the trick is to not fall asleep!)
Breathing is very important when we meditate, it’s our reference point and it enables us to center ourselves when the mind is too agitated. A deep breathing through the belly is best, on the inhale we fill our belly with air and then our lungs, on the exhale we pull the navel back to the spine. Focusing on the breath during a meditation guarantees an unconditional presence to what is and relaxes us instantly. Moreover the movement of breath is the same as the Universe: contraction-expansion and we can consciously be in symbiosis with it.
Emptying the mind:
We often say the goal of meditation is to empty the mind, find the vacuity within and to free ourselves from thoughts. If you are a beginner or you don’t meditate regularly you will notice your mind will start heating up. Like a little monkey in a cage it will bounce everywhere without leaving you in peace. This is perfectly normal don’t worry. All you have to do is observe the tricks of the monkey without identifying with your thoughts. If you notice you are pulled away with the flow of thoughts simply come back to your breathing by inhaling deeply in a conscious breath. With time and practice the mind will calm down progressively and the space between each thought will expand more and more leaving you with a deep sense of inner peace which is the Truth of who you are.
Stillness or movement?
Another misconception concerning meditation is that we must remain perfectly still no matter what. This is the case for certain specific techniques but in general it’s incorrect. Movement is constant since we continue to breathe of course. Sometimes we feel the energy flowing inside which causes us to move slightly like if the wind was cradling us. This is completely normal and it is part of the meditation process to allow what is. What we often feel is the mix and interaction of our energy with the energy of the surroundings (though in reality they is no seperation between the two). Meditation is also known to activate the Kundalini, the fundamental powerful sexual and creative energy coiled up like a serpent around our sacrum. When it activates we feel the need to start moving our hips.
In theory we can meditate everywhere: at home, in public transport, in a park, in nature, in the middle of a crowd, in a bath…Feel what suits you best. Calm quiet places where you are sure not to be disturbed are always recommended and meditating everyday in the same spot is recommended to install a daily ritual. Meditating in nature or in high vibrational places are of course a must!
Setting an intention:
Of course we can set an intention for our meditation, as said before to cleanse ourselves for example. Imagine a beautiful light in the color of your choice that enters from the top of your head or from your root chakra (as you prefer) and visualize it running through your entire body like a scan: chakras, meridians, emotions, thoughts. Cleansing and purifying all aspects of your being. You can also use the Violet flame imagining it like a fire burning through you.
We can also say a prayer or a mantra, we can connect with our inner child or our heart by placing our hands on the heart center, sending it love. We can light up some incense to help us attain altered states of consciousness, light up a candle. Be imaginative and create your own ritual that will become your special moment.
A few tips:
There are a few tips to helps us meditate, one of my favorite is to imagine we are sitting on the bottom of the ocean with a crystal clear water and bright sand. Imagine every thought that comes up is a bubble floating up to the surface. Or imagine a blackboard and with a chalk write down every thought or emotion labeling them. For example: “judgment”, “fear”, “impatience”, “washing dishes”, “irritation”. Every time you write something down you immediately erase it with a sponge.
These techniques help us to detach ourselves from our thoughts and not identifying with them.
Another tip: scientific studies have recently discovered that brain activity linked to thoughts is linked to micro movements of the tongue. Thoughts are like if we were talking to ourselves! Relaxing the tongue helps us to have fewer thoughts.
As you might imagine, I can only encourage you to start practicing meditation every day and see your life transformed for the better! If you’ve never meditated before you can start off with 5 minutes a day, then adding up to 10 minutes, then 15, 20, etc. A good average is a meditation that lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.
After ten years of meditation I realized that the most important is the quality of the meditation and not the length. We can meditate for 2 hours and be constantly distracted by our thoughts and we can meditate 5 minutes being totally present during those 5 minutes. Guess which is the most efficient?
And after all we didn’t incarnate to sit in meditation 8 hours a day (although a meditation retreat once in a while is always beneficial)! We came here to live our lives fully and meditation is simply a tool and not an end in itself.
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