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What is Meditation?

Questions about Meditation

What is meditation? What are the types of meditation? How can I find time to meditate? Am I doing it right? Do I have to be religious to meditate? Do I have to give up my religious believes in order to meditate?

These are all great questions. You will find answers to these questions on this page.

Meditation is a verb. It is doing. It is a practice of concentration. You may concentrate on your breath, a sound, object, visualization, movement, or sensations in the body. The goal of meditation is to increase the sense of well-being, reduce stress, activate the relaxation response, and enhance personal and spiritual growth.

"Meditation is a way of being. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and the world to be exactly as it is in this moment, as well." ~John Kabat-Zinn

You will understand what meditation is once you experience it. Here is a short exercise that will show you what is meditation.

  1. Find a quiet spot where you will not be disturbed.
  2. Sit in a chair with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, feet flat on the floor.
  3. Close your eyes and turn your attention to your breath.
  4. Notice how the breath moves. Just observe your breath.
  5. Feel how your abdomen (or your chest) is rising and falling with each breath.
  6. Just observe. Don't force anything.
  7. Focus on the feeling of your breath - your body rising and falling with each breath.
  8. Continue for 5 minutes.
  9. Congratulations! You now know what is meditation and how to meditate.


I want to learn meditation, what are the types of meditation?

There are many, many different ways to meditate. To learn more about these types and to choose one that appeals to you the most explore different types of meditation.


I've been practicing meditation for 2 weeks. Am I meditating the right way?
Yes! There is no "wrong" way of meditating. The experiences that arise during meditation (having thoughts, sleepiness, restlessness, physical discomfort, emotions) don't indicate that you are doing it wrong. They are occurring naturally and are surfacing up to your awareness. It is part of meditation and of transformation. Just acknowledge and accept whatever arises in the moment.


How can I find time to meditate?
You don't have to meditate for 45 minutes every day. 5 - 10 minutes of meditation daily is all that you need to start. It is important though that you find a specific time (mornings usually work best for people) and practice regularly. The regular practice of meditation is more important than the length of your practice.
As you practice regularly, you will begin to see benefits, and the more benefits you will see, the more you will want to meditate.
So, start slowly, practice regularly, but do start and you will reap benefits.


Do I have to be religious in order to meditate? or Do I have to give up my religious beliefs in order to meditate?
No. Meditation is not about religion. It is a tool to help you to slow down, to pause in your life, take a few deep breaths, and to turn your attention inward. Stephan Bodian in Meditation for Dummies says: "What you discover (during meditation) is not Zen or Sufi or TM (transcendental meditation), but you complete with your beliefs, affiliations, and personality traits!"

Essentially, when you discover what is meditation, you will discover that meditation is about you and not about any religious beliefs.


What about unpleasant emotions, restlessness and discomfort during meditation? Is meditation causing this?
Meditation is not always peaceful and blissful. You may have a variety of emotions come up for you. This simply means that you are getting in touch with your deeper self. It does not mean that meditation is causing these emotions. They are within you. When you slow down and become present with yourself, a lot of repressed material comes up. Just notice it, and accept whatever arises. When you become aware of these feelings, their energy can transform.

I hope that you have learned more about what is meditation and about meditation in general. It is truly a wonderful tool for stress relief and personal growth. I have been meditating for 5 years and found this tool invaluable.


Related articles:

Body Scan Meditation
Transcendental Meditation
Meditation for Stress Relief


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