Learning to meditate
September 29, 2020
Learning to meditate
Meditation is a technique for training the mind, just as fitness is a technique for training the body. There are many meditation techniques.
How to learn to meditate?
"In the Buddhist tradition the word 'meditation' is similar to the word 'sport' in the United States. It's a set of activities, not one thing," Professor Richard J. Davidson, director of the neuroscience lab at the University of Wisconsin, told the New York Times. Different meditative practices require different mental capacities.
It is extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours without thinking about anything or putting the "mind blank." In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is to focus on the breath, an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.
The technique of concentrated meditation requires fixing attention on a single point. For example, observing the breath, repeating a word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to the repetitive sound of a gong, or counting the beads of a rosary. Since focusing the mind is not easy, beginners may wish to meditate for only a few minutes and then increase the duration.
In this form of meditation you simply refocus your attention on the chosen object whenever you notice that your mind is wandering. Instead of clinging to the thoughts that arise, you simply let them pass. Through this process your ability to concentrate improves.
Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe their erratic thoughts as they pass through their mind. The goal is not to be swept away by thoughts or judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it appears.
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Through mindfulness meditation you can observe how your thoughts and feelings request a movement with certain patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experiences as "good" or "bad" ("pleasant" or "unpleasant"). With practice, inner balance develops.
In some schools of meditation, students combine concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines seek calm, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the teacher.
Other meditation techniques
There are other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice of Buddhist monks focuses directly on developing compassion. This involves visualizing negative events and seeing them again in a positive way by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques such as tai chi, chi kung and walking meditation.