What Is Meditation?
In its simplest and purest form, the act of meditation is nothing more than a conscious mental exercise during which an individual attempts to purge his or her psyche of negative energy caused by such factors as stress and anxiety. This is often done by utilizing varies ancient spiritual techniques which have evolved to help us reach a heightened sense of personal and spiritual awareness often referred to as “enlightenment”.
The Role of Meditation In Modern Life
According to current research, an estimated 60,000 thoughts flow through our minds on a daily basis, 90% of which are replications of our thoughts from previous days. Moreover, we spend almost half of our time worrying about things that are not likely to come true.
This negative mental energy, fueled by the stresses of modern life, is the reason why most of us can’t remember the bliss of childhood that filled our minds with glorious moments when we experienced unbound love, sparks of wisdom, and of course total harmony with the world around us and harmony within ourselves. The only good news is that we can re-experience this bliss; but only if we learn to manage our restless minds and soothe our strained spirits.
The practice of meditation will set you free from unnecessary worries, enrich your perception and heighten your senses. Although various meditation traditions and techniques exist around the world, the art of meditation can easily be divided into four categories:
- Concentration meditation
- Reflective (or insight) meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Creative meditation
Concentration meditation is the basis for all varieties of mediation techniques. As we all know, being able to concentrate is vital to overcoming distractions and maintaining mental focus.
For example, imagine pouring water freely on a flat surface. This water will instantly become a shallow puddle and turn stagnant in the points of depression. But, if you channel this water in one direction and keep it under pressure, it will carry tremendous power. The mind works similarly. When left to roam freely it has little power. However, once concentrated, the mind can become a powerful carrier of our intentions. The concentrated mind will acquire greater calm, stability and clarity so that confusion, anxiety and lack of focus become problems of the past.
Reflective meditation can be defined as disciplined thinking. During reflective meditation, you choose an idea, situation, or question and focus your contemplation on it. When your mind wonders, you bring it back to the subject of your reflection gently but firmly.
Reflective meditation is traditionally used for gaining greater insights into the nature of death, the meaning of life, or the question of your own mental quest, be it relationships, a scientific puzzle, or daily problems. During this type of meditation, the secret to gaining revealing insights is your ability to direct your attention repeatedly to your chosen theme and staying open to whatever thoughts arise in your mind as a result of that contemplation.
Mindfulness is a state of awareness in the present moment, when your mind is relaxed and conscious of all your experiences, including all your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and breathing. A mindful mind accepts everything with an attitude of non-resistance and equanimity. Thus, you can experience a state of being without self-criticism. Skilled practitioners of mindful meditation describe the feeling as an outer body experience during which the soul is separated from the body and thus can look on at the “self” from the “outside”.
While concentration and mindfulness bring more focus and awareness into our lives, creative meditation helps us apply these new habits with greater efficiency. Creative meditation can best be described as a form of learned daydreaming in which we learn to foresee the life we are meant to lead. For example, during creative visualization, one of the most used methods of creative meditation, we use our subconscious mind to unravel the secrets to achieving such personal desires as attracting happiness and love.
Creative meditation works because our subconscious mind does not discern between imaginative and real-life stimuli. Thus, the visualization of an imagined positive thought or outcome can trigger in the subconscious mind an emotional, mental, and psychological reaction that eventually leads to the realization of the desired event. By bringing desirable, emotionally charged images into our mind’s eye we can begin to exercise productive control over all aspects of our lives and shape our respective futures.
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