What is meditation? Wikipedia describes it as follows: “Meditation is a practice where an individual operates or trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.”

Meditation has been around since pa fell off the bus. Since ancient times it has formed part of many religious practices and still do so today.

Many people see meditation is an effective form of training the mind to become calm and focussed. Why meditate? What can you expect to get out of it? Here are some of the benefits of meditation:

  • Enhances relaxation and reduces stress
  • Lowers blood pressure and improves blood circulation
  • Reduces feelings of anxiety
  • Lowers heart rate
  • Slows down your respiratory rate
  • Increases feeling of well-being

I believe all of these benefits to be products of meditation practices. Personally, I meditate for two reasons:

  • My mind is very busy and has the potential to run all over the place. Meditation is a way to quiet my mind a bit and to experience a sense of relaxation and serenity.

  • I speak to my higher power when I pray. I mostly ask for guidance. Mediation is my way of listening. It serves no purpose if I ask in prayer, but never listen to hear the answers. The only way that I can listen effectively, is by taking the mental noise away.

How should we meditate? It is recommended that we:

  • Sit or lie comfortably.

  • Close your eyes.

  • Breathe naturally.

  • Focus your attention on your breath and the movement of your body when breathing in and out.

  • When your mind wonders, simply relax back into focussing on your breath.

I meditate in the mornings before work and do the following:

  • I have downloaded some guided meditations on my cell phone.

  • Plug my earphones in and start the recording.

  • Lie in my bed, on my back, with my arms relaxed next to me.

  • Eyes closed

  • Focus on my breathing

  • Listen attentively and follow the instructions of the guided meditation.

  • When my mind wonders, I relax back into the listening and focus on my breathing.

There are many different types of meditation, some of the most prominent ones are:

  • Transcendental: You try to experience inner calmness and try to rise above the negativity. Guidance is probably needed to get the best results.

  • Heart Rhythm (HRM): The aim is to experience the mantra: “I am a part of all things and all things are a part of me.” To attain that, the concentration is on the heart, but the focus is on breathing.

  • Kundalini: It focusses on the rising stream of energy as one concentrates on your breathing as it flows through your energy centres.

  • Guided Visualisation: You imagine relaxing and positive experiences to which the body will respond with feelings of positivity. In this more modern form of meditation, you can focus on attaining one specific goal. You guide your energies to attaining that goal.

  • Oi Gong: It is one of the oldest meditation practices. It uses breath to circulate energy through the energy centres and the body. It improves respiration, relaxation and posture.

  • Zazen: This is seated meditation, with the back straight and comfortable. It relies on self-guidance and helps you to surrender all forms of judgement.

  • Mindfulness: Sit with your eyes closed, straight back and legs crossed. Focus on your breathing. If and when your mind wanders, re-focus on your breathing. Accept thoughts that come up. This is probably one of the more popular and easiest ways of meditation.

I strongly recommend that you log on to YouTube and look at some videos on meditation. There are a huge variety. You can start with ones for beginners and work your way through all the different types, until you find one that works for you. It is good to investigate, try some options and make an informed decision.

A lot of community centres offer meditation classes. Look in your local newspaper for workshops and classes and join in.

I always say that I struggle with meditation. That is probably true, because my mind still wanders a lot. But, from what I hear from others and read, a lot of people experience this. It seems important to accept that as part of the process and to continue doing it as part of a daily routine. It is a process. Do not strive for perfection. Although I say I struggle, I know that it has changed my life and I get better at it the more I do it.

Be kind to yourself and be patient.

Come on. Sit or lie down comfortably, close your eyes focus on your breathing and repeat after me: