What is meditation?
Meditation (Dhyana in sanskrit) is a state of mind achievable by focusing the mind on one thing (Dharana) (i.e. the breath, an object or deity etc) to calm thoughts and draw your attention inward. In yoga, it is the aim of the practitioner to obtain the mind state of ‘samadhi’ which is a level of intense concentration that union with the divine is achieved. *The divine being a God of your choosing, your higher self or whatever resonates with you.
A common misunderstanding of meditation is that you must stop all your thoughts, which is pretty much impossible! But with repeated mind training and regular practice, meditation can certainly become easier and thoughts less noisy. It doesn’t matter if you meditate for 5 or 45 minutes, you will still receive benefits, however, a longer session may give you access to a deeper meditation where deeper healing can take place. Meditating in a group enhances the energy and supports a longer practice – especially for beginners.
Mindfulness is a way of training the mind to be present in everything we do, whether it is washing the dishes, surfing in the sea or playing with your children. Instead of allowing the mind to wander elsewhere thinking of the past or future, we repeatedly draw it back into what we are doing right now. When we are present in the moment, we are able to access the core of peace that lies within each of us.
Each moment is a gift and in a flash it is gone. We can change nothing in the past, nor control the future, yet both phenomena draw us in and cause suffering. When we can let go and remain in the present moment, we allow everything to come to stillness and our minds to come to rest. Mindfulness can be applied to everything we do, and in terms of meditation, it is used to anchor us in on a focus point to still the mind.
Benefits of a regular practice of meditation & mindfulness:
- improved focus and concentration
- clearer thinking and easier decision making
- better quality of rest
- ability to see things in a more positive light
- more patience and tolerance
- reduced stress and anxiety levels
- improved self esteem and confidence
- more in tune with your bodies needs
- more able to live in the moment
- ability to respond and not react
- more able to listen and express oneself more effectively
- increased joy, peace and compassion
“I have been meditating for about 8 years and in that time I have practised with guided audio tracks, dynamic kundalini mudras, crystals, walking, visualisation and simple breath awareness. All have been equally effective, but now I prefer to meditate daily using simple Buddhist mindfulness techniques anchoring my attention on the breath. Since attending my first silent vipassana 10 day retreat, I have a much stronger connection to meditation and it has allowed me to get to know myself on a much deeper level. I am able to see with clarity my own behaviours and others, and with this awareness I am able to offer compassion rather than judgement. Of course, we are all work in progress and this is a life long journey of discovery so I am not professing to be a super hero or anything, only that from my experience of regular practice, meditation truly has enriched my life with all the aforementioned benefits and so much more.”