Essentially, learning how to live in the present moment, concentrating at one thing at a time minus the mind chatter and acknowledging thoughts and returning back to the present will without a doubt bring about a peace that surpasses understanding.
Meditation essentially means to be aware, and to have focus or direction. When we learn to live our life with awareness, to live consciously and to make conscious choices, our life becomes a meditative experience. Personally, I recommend practicing different types of meditation at different times of the day as this allows room to create the space within. It is up to the person to find the practice or practices that works best for their overall physical and mental health. There are different types of meditation and essentially it is to find the right fit.
Reflection meditation refers back over past events and situations. This can be a useful technique to practice at the end of the day. It should be done without evaluation or judgement. As we practice, we will find ourselves saying things like ‘I did my core exercises’, ‘I ate breakfast’, ‘I went to work’, ‘I met my friend’ and so on. We begin to appreciate who we really are, the timeless self in the midst of all time bound events.
Contemplation meditation is to think about something, to ponder it and explore all its aspects. It can be a process of self-reflection where we ask questions such as: ‘Who am I’, ‘What do I want’, ‘What is my purpose?’, ‘What am I most grateful for?’ Contemplation is where we look in to our inner world and feelings for answers, asking for the questions, listening for the answers and insights that rise from our deepest being.
Prayer itself can take many forms, from the ‘shopping list’ of desires to prayers of praise and gratitude. Prayer can be a way of expressing our love and devotion for the divine, both essential aspects of the spiritual journey. Prayer is often something we only turn to in times of need or great challenges. The ultimate prayer and expression of surrender is, ‘Thy will be done.’
The air we breathe and the food we eat are what keeps us alive, so eating is a sacred act and should be a meditative experience. To make sure we are eating mindfully is to eat in a settled environment, not working, watching television or browsing online. To sit down to eat and practice gratitude. The first part of our digestion takes place in the mouth as its important to take a moment to appreciate the food in front of us.
Many people enjoy making their activities a meditative experience. Whether walking, dancing, bicycling or any other activity, to be fully aware of the activity and to practice having a heightened awareness of the activity. We coordinate our movements with our breath or repeat a simple phrase such as ‘I am walking, right leg up, right leg down’ or a phrase such as ‘peace and love.’ To practice walking meditation is to try being fully present in the walking, not thinking about or having your concentration fixed on what we have to do next.
The vast majority of our thoughts take us into the future or the past. Consequently, this is where we spend most of our lives. In essence, we miss the present moment entirely. Our breath can never be in the future or the past, it is always right here, in the now. By simply sitting quietly with eyes closed and effortlessly observing our breath flowing in and flowing out, we are immediately brought into the present moment. This meditative practice of breathing can have a profound effect on centering and grounding ourselves and allowing our thoughts to settle down to their deepest level – silence.
Mantra means vehicle or instrument of the mind and there are many different types of mantras which can be used for a variety of purposes. Most thoughts have a sound and a meaning and it’s the meaning that keeps our awareness on the active thinking level. Making the journey regularly back and forth from activity to silence gradually integrates these qualities into our life, bringing profound benefits and relaxation in all areas.
Guided meditation keeps the mind engaged in activity, which can be useful in helping to relieve physical, mental and emotional challenges. While these can all have great values in helping to restore harmony and wholeness in our life, it is important to take time each day to immerse and enter totally in the experience of inner silence and stillness.
Overall, meditation creates the space within and it is so useful in that it helps to eliminate internal and external obstacles in order to move forward and progress. A useful phrase to remember, everything you need, you have.