Meditation has grown to become a popular exercise globally with many meditation apps sprouting up in the app stores. They include Calm, Insight Timer to Headspace. There is no specific number of how many people in the world are meditating on a regular basis. It is estimated that 200 to 500 million people in the world meditate. This number has tripled since 2012. Despite the growing number, meditation has a different meaning to different people. First, we will take a look at what meditation means and share how to meditate in this post.
What is Meditation?
According to the Cambridge dictionary, meditation means thinking calm thoughts in order to relax, or as a religious activity. It also means to think seriously about something for a long time – such as reflecting. In the Oxford dictionary, meditation as an uncountable noun means thinking deeply in silence especially for religious reasons or to calm the mind. As a countable noun, the word means thinking serious thoughts on a particular subject.
Both dictionaries are correct though meditation has sometimes been misunderstood as thinking about nothing. In the first meaning, where one thinks calm or deep thoughts in silence in order to relax, refers to for example the act of breath meditation. We place our attention on a spot of our body observing the rising and falling sensation of the breath. You can call it a calm thought (thinking of only the breath). You can also call this thinking deeply in silence – the mind observing the breath deeply in silence.
Meditation is also a form of reflection. In Mindfulness meditation, the observation function of the mind reflects on the coming and passing away of body sensations, feelings and thoughts.
3 Ways to Meditate
In order to be able to reflect, it would be very helpful to have a calm and quiet mind. This pertains to meditating on a solution you need to find at work or at home to thinking of religious activity. Both utilises the mind’s reflection capability but on different subjects.
As shared earlier, the easiest way to calm the mind is to constantly with persistent effort (without violence in mind) to bring the mind to the breath whether you are sitting or walking. You can place your attention on the rising and falling breath sensations on your abdomen or below your nostrils. Or you can choose to have a wide focus on your entire front torso.
Other methods include placing your attention on your body’s contact with the floor or the surroundings. For example, when you are sitting down to formally meditate, you can place your attention on the contact between your buttocks and the cushion. When you can walking, you can keep bringing your attention between the soles of the feet and the floor.
Another popular method is to chant a favourite verse. This is also known as a mantra. If you are religious, you can pick a favourite verse to keep repeating it in your mind. Otherwise, you can choose to repeat “I know I am breathing in, I know I am breathing out” to help your mind pay attention to your breath. Or you can just repeat the word “touching” as you feel your body in contact with the floor.
Once the mind is sufficiently quiet and undisturbed, it can proceed to observe deeply and to reflect. In fact, the act of calming the mind via meditation and to reflect deeply can also go hand in hand. It does not have to be linear.
Most beginners do not understand what is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation requires observation and knowing the rising and falling away of body sensations, feelings, and thoughts. There is no goal to attain except to constantly bring the knowing factor of the mind back to these 3 phenomena. This brings to mind the Greek philosophers who encouraged their students to “Know Thyself”. We have spent much time probing what is outside of us, from the atoms to chemical reactions and to other people. But when it comes to ourselves, we do not know what makes up this self.
Mindfulness meditation is about self-inquiry. Knowing yourself can help you with the various problems and even the boredom you face in life. It is a quest to understand and see ourselves deeply and this can be explored in an 8-week mindfulness course. We offer mindfulness courses for the workplace as well as individuals looking to discover their wisdom within to face life’s challenges.