How is meditation practiced
Learn meditation: 9 tips + 5 exercises
Meditation provides clarity and inner peace. Around 70,000 thoughts buzz through our heads every day. Meditation is a way to put an end to the chaos of thought. This is by no means a remote esoteric exercise or spiritual-religious teaching for more emptiness in the head. The positive effect of meditation has long been scientifically proven: Those who meditate regularly are doing something good for their brain. Here we show what meditation is, how it is useful for you, which meditation exercises are available for beginners and very simply: How to learn meditation ...
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
➠ Content: This is what awaits you
Definition: what is meditation?
The term meditation comes from Latin and means something like to think or to ponder. This translation only partially does justice to the core of meditation. It is an originally religious practice that is practiced in numerous cultures, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Different goals are pursued with a meditation:
- The mind calms down.
The thoughts can collect and the meditator comes to rest inside.
- Enlightenment is attained.
The meditator can encounter something divine. So prayer can be viewed as a form of meditation.
- Different states of consciousness are aimed for.
That is the goal of less spiritual meditations. Sometimes they are used as a mind-expanding exercise, sometimes as a technique for inner peace and quiet.
Over the years, religiously motivated goals have often faded into the background in Western meditations. Anyway, meditation is possible without belonging to a certain religious community.
Forms and meditation techniques
Whoever says meditation often thinks of a certain form of meditation. But there are two different meditation techniques, which are divided into different forms depending on the focus:
It is a movement meditation. With the help of a certain sequence of movements, the meditator should learn to give his thoughts a rhythm. Some also speak of a thought anchor on which one then focuses and at the same time protects against distraction. In this way, whenever the thoughts wander (and they usually do), meditators can return to the starting point with the help of the sequences of movements. In physically active meditation, slow and deliberate movements are performed. Other examples of active meditation are:
- Martial arts
- Prayers and mantras
- Walking meditation
These techniques are used to get into a state of consciousness that is free from the usual judgments and fears. Instead, with mental clarity, absolute relaxation is sought at the same time.
In western countries, meditation is primarily associated with physically passive meditation, also called contemplative meditation. Here the meditator has often closed his eyes and sits or stands still. Examples are:
- Concentration meditation: In concentration meditation (also called calm meditation or samath meditation) the meditator should concentrate and focus on one object, sometimes on his compassion for another person.
- Mindfulness Meditation: This form of meditation (also called MBSR exercise, from "mindfulness based stress reduction") is considered to be particularly intensively researched and can prove the positive effects in the brain in studies. Mindfulness meditation tries to concentrate fully on the situation in the here and now, i.e. a completely relaxed and uninterested perception of what is. A concentration on the moment that you experience openly and curiously, just as you encounter yourself in a loving and friendly manner (see also further articles below).
In the following, we will focus primarily on passive meditation.
Scientifically proven to have a positive effect
Why meditate Countries like Germany, and indeed the West as a whole, are known for their performance-oriented work style. With a certain longing one looks at other countries that are apparently doing better: Burnout, stress and the whole range of complaints such as headache and backache are diseases of civilization. Since the seventies, an increased interest of western nations in Far Eastern meditation teachings, especially in Buddhism, can be observed. The advantages are apparent:
We have summarized further information on how meditation works and how it can affect the brain in this free PDF for you!
Meditation for Beginners: Getting Started Easily Explained
If you want to try meditation, you usually have the necessary motivation at the beginning and also the desire to take the time - but since only a few have experience in this area, there is also a lack of knowledge of how best to start and what is important. There are now various books and meditation apps that make it easier to get started, provide advice and offer various meditation exercises. Nevertheless, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the basics in advance. We have put together some tips for beginners and show you the first steps to use meditation as effectively as possible:
1. Start with realistic expectations
One reason why many people stop meditating after a short period of time is that their expectations are far too high and they are disappointed. Especially for beginners: Do not assume that the first meditation will be a complete success and that you will feel a great effect. As is well known, no master has fallen from heaven and it can take some time before you feel the effects of meditation. It is better to start small and enjoy the additional peace, even if it is not yet as large as you would hope for in the long term. With each further exercise, you come closer to the ability to maintain inner calm over the duration of the meditation and to experience less stress in other situations as well.
2. Find a suitable place to meditate
If you are trying to meditate calmly, as a beginner you need a place that is as quiet as possible. Experienced people can meditate between the greatest noise and the hustle and bustle. But you don't necessarily have to artificially increase the challenges. For starters, it is therefore advisable to find a place where you can withdraw. For example, a room where you can make yourself comfortable, where you can feel good and relax is best. It is also advisable to choose a fixed place and not to change the place every time you meditate.
3. Eliminate distractions
If you want to meditate, there is no room for interference - whether from e-mails, the smartphone or friends and family who might burst into it. Turn off electronic devices or leave them in another room where you cannot hear them for the duration of meditation. Ask others not to bother you during this time. The length of time a meditation takes is not too long, you won't miss a thing if you completely withdraw to meditate.
4. Dress appropriately for meditation
What may sound like a truism is often forgotten by beginners in meditation. Wrong and uncomfortable clothing only seems to be a small, almost unimportant factor? Not correct! When you are in meditation, there are no other distractions and you concentrate fully on yourself, all of a sudden wrong clothing is the only thing you feel and all thoughts revolve around the itchy sweater or tight pants. Therefore, find an outfit that works best for you during meditation. Not too tight, neither too cold nor too warm. You do not even feel the optimal clothing during meditation and you simply feel good in it.
5. Introduce a regularity
A one-time meditation can work and help relieve stress or calm down. However, you only use the full potential if you introduce regularity. Many incorporate meditation as part of their morning routine. However, the time is irrelevant. Meditate at fixed times, whether daily or in a different fixed rhythm. If this becomes a habit, it will not only make it easier for you to really maintain your meditation. It also becomes easier to relax after a short while if you stick to a fixed schedule.
6. Set a time frame
As a beginner, it doesn't matter to meditate for as long as possible. Continuity plays a much bigger role. Initially, around 10 minutes a day are sufficient for meditation. If you find that you would like to extend this amount of time, you can always do so at a later date. You can set an alarm clock to keep to the time constraints. However, you can also rely on your feelings and not set an exact time, but meditate as long as it is good for you and you can switch off and relax.
7. Find the right posture
The effects of noise or distractions on meditation are easy to understand, but the influence of correct body and sitting posture is far less known. An upright back and a straight spine are essential. Both ensure that the chest and stomach can move freely while breathing. At the same time, it is important for a successful meditation that the posture adopted is comfortable and the surface is warm enough so that you can remain in it for the next ten to twenty minutes. You can place your hands in your lap like two bowls inside each other or on your thighs. You shouldn't just let them hang down, then the shoulder muscles could tense up again. You have various options for a suitable sitting posture:
- Cross legged: When sitting cross-legged, cross your legs loosely.
- Heel seat: In this position, you are sitting on your heels. You can also place a yoga block under your buttocks for relief.
- Lotus position: In the lotus position, either one foot (half lotus) or both feet (whole lotus) lies crossed on the thighs.
- Chair: If the other seating positions or the surface are unsuitable, sit on a chair.
You can put a blanket, yoga mat or meditation cushion under you. The reclining position is not recommended for meditation, as you may then nod away.
8. Take your time at the end of the meditation
Is the set time of your meditation up? Then you should not abruptly quit meditation in the same second and go straight back to everyday life. Instead, take a few moments to slowly return from meditation - this is often referred to in technical jargon as waking up. Leave the meditation slowly, only open your eyes after a few moments and get used to your surroundings again, which you previously - hopefully - faded out.
9. Don't give up meditation too quickly
Unfortunately, many beginners quickly lose their interest in meditation because they are frustrated that not everything works the first time. Don't let this discourage you and give yourself a little time to meditate. Most of them need practice and training until the effects are clearly noticeable. Patience is difficult, but give the project a little time. Over time you will notice how the meditation helps you more and the exercises become more successful.
Learning to meditate: 5 easy exercises
Do you want to meditate but are not sure what to do? Don't worry, this is what happens to many who are just starting out and are not accompanied by a course or trainer. Just sit down, relax and meditate - that sounds easier than done when the stress level is high. To help you, we have listed a few exercises you can use to start meditation. At the end of each step there is a note for more detailed information.
Meditation through breathing
As a first step into meditation, breathing exercises are a good start. It is important that you concentrate fully on your breathing and try to block out external influences and stimuli. A breathing exercise that compares to meditation is the 4-6-8 method. Sit with your spine straight or stand upright. Place your hand on your stomach and try to breathe in only through your nose and into your stomach - if possible, without letting your chest rise too high. Follow the 4-6-8 rhythm: Breathe in slowly and deeply, count to four, hold your breath, count to six, slowly exhale through your mouth and count to eight.
Repeat this at least five times, paying full attention to your breathing. Try to feel the oxygen flowing through your body and leaving it again when you breathe out. With this meditation you can breathe away stress as well as frustration or anger.
Meditation through mindfulness
After you have looked for a meditation position, it is now a matter of breathing calmly and consciously perceiving all sensory impressions. You can do this with your eyes closed and focus on everything else - or you can look around the room and process what you see. What do you feel? Which muscles are tense? Can you smell something or hear noises? Where do these come from? What can be assigned? What emotions do you feel?
It is important that you do not evaluate when exercising mindfulness, but only perceive with curiosity. It's not about whether a feeling is positive or negative. Just find out that it's there. The same applies to other impressions that you perceive. Don't try to evaluate them, just accept what you feel.
Meditation through affirmations
Affirmations are beliefs or affirmations that you can use as a basis for motivating yourself. Either out loud or in your mind, you can repeat them over and over and concentrate fully on them. For example: Say to yourself over and over again during meditation, "I am good the way I am."
During the exercise, try to let your thoughts circle around just this one sentence. Thoughts have a strong effect on emotions and so you can noticeably influence your mood through meditation with affirmations. Therefore, select the affirmations individually and adapt them to your current situation and goals.
Meditation through visualization
There are many different options for meditation using visualization. Especially suitable for beginners: Get into your meditation position and pay attention to calm, even and deep breathing. Begin to imagine yourself absorbing energy with each breath and blowing stress and anger out of your body as you breathe out. Visualize this in your mind's eye to amplify the positive effects. It may be difficult at first, but the more you get involved, the more you will feel how you are actually developing more energy.
Another form of meditation through visualization is the mind journey. In your meditation, think of a wonderful, relaxing and energizing place for you. This can be a real place that you know and love, or it can be a fantasy. Walk through this place in your mind and fill it as best you can with life and emotions. Feelings, smells, colors - the more realistic your imagination, the greater the effect.
Meditation through music
If it helps you with meditation, you can accompany it with music. This can be a great way, especially for beginners, not to just focus on your own thoughts. Instead, you can focus your attention on your breathing and the music. Choose quiet and relaxing background music for this. You can also combine background noises with the above-mentioned meditation through visualization, for example by playing in nature sounds and creating a suitable image in front of your inner eyes that is amplified by the noises.
Please avoid these meditation mistakes
- You try compulsively to think of NOTHING.
Unfortunately the opposite happens. Especially beginners put themselves under unnecessary pressure, at the same time everything goes through their heads - deadlines for housework, errands and the like. Meditation means that you let go for this time, also say goodbye to the thought that everything has to work out immediately.
- You force yourself into an uncomfortable sitting position.
Even if many meditation and yoga books or videos show the meditating person in the yoga or lotus position: This sitting position is only suitable for flexible people or advanced people. If you are inexperienced, your feet may fall asleep.They also find it difficult to comfortably hold the posture for ten minutes. If you find it difficult to maintain a straight posture at first, you can lean against a wall.
- They think meditation is a panacea.
Even if meditation has undeniably positive effects on health and inner serenity, it cannot work miracles. Dissatisfaction at work, problems in the relationship or illnesses cannot be "smiled" away with it. You still have to take action.
- You don't prepare.
Switching off from now on is possible with longer practice. As a beginner, it is not so easy to get into the required trance. However, you can support this by preparing yourself for the meditation. This includes a ventilated, (in winter) heated room, ideally tidy. Do some rituals to get you in the mood. For example, you can light a scented candle or incense sticks, play suitable meditation music.
- You practice too many styles of meditation.
There are a variety of meditations in the respective religions alone. There are also various sub-forms. It is difficult for beginners to keep track of things: Buddhist, Christian or Indian meditation? Chakra, Mantra or Pranayama? Transcendental Meditation or Mindfulness Meditation? To get started, it's good to try a few styles. If a meditation exercise feels right, stick with it and practice it regularly. Of course, you can add to them over time as you feel, but don't try countless styles every week to get started.
Instructions: example of guided meditation (with text)
Nervousness and inner tension appear almost automatically during exams. The stupid thing: you can't do anything with it. It is true that a certain amount of excitement provides the necessary attention (you are awake and focus on what is coming). On the other hand, it can lead to tunnel vision. Certain things - such as waiting for someone to provide you with the information or materials you need - you cannot influence anyway, which is why the inner restlessness is anything but useful.
The aim of meditation against inner unrest is therefore to achieve more serenity. The difficulty is on the one hand relaxing and concentrating at the same time. When the mind wanders, beginners in particular are quickly faced with problems again - which in turn can lead to brooding. That is exactly what should be prevented. A meditation on breathing is therefore at the beginning. It is performed by retiring to a quiet place for five to 20 minutes. Adopt a relaxed posture - this can be lying on a comfortable surface (yoga mat) or sitting (yoga seat, lotus position), for example leaning against a wall.
This beginner meditation just consists of breathing calmly. Recapture wandering thoughts by counting your breaths from one to ten, then starting over. End the breathing meditation with an acoustic signal (for example with a previously set pleasant ringtone of the mobile phone). You will find these instructions as well as a meditation text to print out in the following PDF document, which you can download here free of charge. Simply click the orange download button:
MEDITATION FOR INNER CALM AND TO SLEEP
You can have someone read this text to you in a calm voice or you can record it yourself beforehand. You can also use it as a meditation to help you fall asleep. Simply leave out the last paragraph with the return formula.
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