Life is filled with distractions and stimulation. All most of us sometimes want is to find a way to calm things down and to be able to stop for a moment of complete silence. Meditation is meant to help you be more present in the environment and in yourself. You can meditate alone or you can meditate with others, the main point is to take a few minutes for yourself in complete silence and tranquility.
Sometimes you can not think things out, sometimes you just have to take the time to be, let your thoughts and feelings flow calmly without giving them resistance. This is the practice of mindfulness.
What is meditation
Meditation is a mental practice where the goal may be to achieve physical and mental well-being, increased mental capacity, expanded awareness, or spiritual insight. Meditation was originally performed as a religious practice best known in Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhist meditation is often what we associate with the actual practice of meditation. The purpose behind traditional Buddhist meditation is to observe the body's functions and thoughts, and the goal is often to achieve awakening.
In modern times outside the religious framework, meditation is often performed against stress, against anxiety, better sleep, and for the healing of body and mind. Yet these practices such as Transcendental Meditation, Acem Meditation, and Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School are often inspired by Buddhist meditation. Several modern meditation techniques have been developed in recent times, but the one that has flourished the most in recent times is mindfulness. A practice that continues techniques originating in religious traditions set in a Western scientific framework. Mindfulness's techniques have therefore been researched and the practice of these techniques has proven positive effect on our health.
Different types of meditation
Meditation is usually distinguished between concentration techniques and letiquette techniques.
Concentration techniques involves the practitioner drawing attention to a specific object, such as the breath, as one is often used to doing during the practice of yoga. Such techniques often involve mantra meditation. Under religion, mantra are sacred or powerful sentences. The sentences are used in meditation to control the mind and to invoke gods. In modern practice, these can be short sentences of nice and motivating words that suit your current situation that you yourself repeat during the session to find peace and comfort.
Vacancy techniques however, techniques are meant to open up thoughts and feelings. Under these types of techniques one finds mindfulness. Some forms of meditation have a combination of these two techniques.
Meditation can also be used in physical activity. Meditation can often be a component in some forms of modern yoga for example. Dynamic meditation is one such meditation technique that combines physical and mental exercises. Here, breathing exercises, dance, and mental focus are brought together to achieve altered states of consciousness.
How to meditate?
There are many ways to meditate, as mentioned above. But the most common and easiest way to practice meditation to start with is to follow these 5 simple steps:
Find a calm and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed, and which you can return to for further meditation going forward. This can be in the living room or in the bedroom. Do what you need to do to make your place a place that gives you good feelings and peace of mind and body.
It has been shown that it is easier to maintain a habit if you make it a routine, ie by doing it at the same time every time. Consider whether you want to start the day with a few minutes of meditation, end the day with a few minutes of meditation for better sleep, or relieve stress by setting aside a few minutes for meditation in the middle of the day.
It is best to start practicing meditation and mindfulness with 5 - 10 minutes each time to get used to and comfortable with the exercises. As it comes naturally to you, the time can be extended as needed. Feel free to put an hour on the phone to keep track of time, and many people like to have pleasant nature sounds such as birds chirping or waves in the background for better empathy.
4. Sitting position
To find a comfortable sitting position, you can find a pillow or a blanket to sit on. Many people choose the classic position with their legs crossed and their hands in the prisoner, but there is no definitive answer here, only the imagination sets limits. The most important thing is that you sit well and can sit in the same position throughout the length of the meditation.
You choose whether you want to keep your eyes open or closed. The most important thing is that the vision does not disturb the focus inwards during the meditation. Inhale calmly through the nose, breathe calmly to the throat, to the lungs and all the way down to the abdomen. Feel free to put a hand on your stomach at the beginning to really feel that it is filled with air. Exhale calmly and feel with your hand that the air leaves your stomach. Feel free to count to 4 while breathing in and again to 4 when exhaling. If you lose count or your mind starts wandering, which is quite normal and will happen, you can calmly bring your focus back to your breath and try again.
Guided meditation is often preferred for beginners when they begin to practice meditation and mindfulness. Guided meditation is where you follow a voice throughout the exercise and let them guide and often guide you through a journey through the mind. This is an easy way to meditate as you are given something to focus on through meditation and the wandering of disturbing thoughts is minimized.
There are many guided meditations to be found on YouTube, even in Norwegian.
There are also options outside of YouTube by downloading and using meditation apps such as HeadSpace or 10% Happier. These provide a selection of guided meditation exercises and the ability to log exercises and maintain the routine of daily meditation. Such apps will also often be able to provide customized meditation for different purposes, whether it is for better sleep, less stress, or increased self-confidence and control.
Mindfulness is "attentive presence in the moment" and is very similar to traditional meditation, but with modern marketing often used as treatment in mental health in the health care system and detached from religion so that it can be used on and by everyone regardless of life views. The apps HeadSpace and 10% Happier are defined as mindfulness apps precisely because it is intended as relief and training for anyone who wants to try the techniques to improve their own lives.
The techniques of mindfulness are much the same as those found in meditation, but the purpose of practicing mindfulness becomes a more general improvement in one's own mental health than wanting to achieve a divine revelation.