Calming Benefits of Buddhist Meditation
Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss
Meditation is something that can help you to become more aware of your habitual tendencies.
Main DigestMeditation is something almost anyone can do, you do not need super abilities to do it. You do not need to be an Olympic athlete, seeking a perfect score in competition. Instead, meditation is more like taking the time to do some personal exercise. Meditation is something that can help to relieve stress, anxiety, and help to develop inner peace.
Meditation - Considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
The purpose of exercising is to begin from where you currently are and develop higher levels of fitness and strength; the same is true of meditation. Even if you are very anxious, distracted, or feel irritated by sounds in your environment as you are attempting to meditate - it is simply what you are beginning with, it is what you have at the moment. They should not make you feel as if you are unable to pursue meditation.
Meditation is something that can help you to become more aware of your habitual tendencies. It can help you to work with them so they become less prominent in your life and you become less anxious, distracted, and become more accepting. You do not need to go directly from point A to point B either - meditation involves gradual change. Breath by breath, each time you meditate, you work to change what is within your mind and heart.
The changes you make accumulate over time as you practice. Through meditation, you can change from someone who experiences high levels of anxiety, to a confident person. You can become a person who may have always been in a bad mood, to a person is who more relaxed.
Interesting Information About Buddhist Meditation
Buddhist meditation started by encouraging people who practiced it to pursue, 'smrti,' or mindfulness; something that involves developing a full consciousness of everything about you and within you. The practice is pursued whether a person is sitting in a unique posture, or whether they are just going about the activities in their life. The practice is the kind of meditation the Buddha did while under the bodhi tree and in Buddhism is referred to in the seventh step of the eightfold path. Before long, Buddhist monks had expanded and formalized their understanding of this type of meditation. The bases of all meditation, even in the earliest years of Buddhism are, 'vipashyana,' and, 'shamatha.'
'Vipashyana,' means, 'clear seeing,' or unique insight and involves the intuitive cognition of suffering, egolessness, and impermanence. 'Shamatha,' is many times translated as meaning, 'peacefulness,' or, 'calm abiding and involves the development of tranquility. A person must perfect these forms before they can move on to more advanced kinds of meditation. 'Samadhi,' is concentration, or one-pointed meditation and involves an intense focusing of consciousness.
Samadhi brings the four, 'dhyanas,' which means absorptions. The Buddha refers to samadhi and the dhyanas in the eighth step of the eightfold path. Dhyana is referred to as, 'Ch'an,' in China, 'Jhana,' in Pali, 'Zen,' in Japan, and, 'Son,' in Korea and has become synonymous with meditation as a whole.
The Basics of Meditation
In Buddhist meditation, the most basic form involves paying attention to the way you breath. Start by sitting in a chair if you can, and keep your back erect. More traditional postures include the lotus position, variations of the half lotus such as having one of your feet on your opposite thigh with the other foot in front of the opposite knee; something that is hard for some. Others kneel while sitting back on their legs, or on a pillow between their legs. Still others us a bench to sit on and meditate. Meditation; however, can also be done as you lie on the floor, walk, or even while sitting on the couch or in a wheelchair.
Another traditional pose with Buddhist meditation is to place your hands loosely with your palms up, one on top of the other, with your thumbs touching lightly. The hand pose is referred to as the, 'cosmic mudra,' and is one of a number of symbolic hand positions. You might simply prefer to place your hands in a way you find comfortable, or with them flat on your thighs.
Hold your head upright, yet not rigidly. You can close your eyes, look down at your hands, or focus on a spot on the ground a couple of feet in front of you. If you start to get sleepy, keep your eyes open.
People who are just starting to meditate should count their breaths as they exhale up to ten. Upon reaching a count of ten, simply start over at one again. If you lose track of your count, just begin at one and continue. Your breathing should be slow and regular, yet not artificial or forced. Simply breath naturally and count.
After a few weeks of practicing meditation, you might choose to discontinue counting and just follow your breathing. Concentrate as you breathe in and breathe out. It is best to be as fully aware of your entire process of breathing, although the majority of people focus on one aspect of breathing or another such as the rise and fall of their diaphragm, or the sensation of cool air entering and warm air exiting as they breath. Many people imagine the air entering their bodies through a small hole perhaps an inch or so below their belly button. Remember, the lower on your body you imagine this, the deeper your meditation will be. If you become sleepy, focus on the air entering your body at a higher place such as your nose.
At some point you will find yourself getting distracted by your own thoughts, or sounds around you. To deal with this simply acknowledge their presence, but do not attach yourself to them; do not become involved with them. Simply allow them to be and let them go, focusing again on your breathing. At first it might be smart to wiggle if you become uncomfortable, or scratch if you itch. Later one, you will discover that the same minimal attention you use for sounds and stray thoughts works with more physical feelings too.
Some different things may also hinder your ability to concentrate while you meditate. These five hindrances are referred to as, 'nivarana,' and are major obstacles to concentration. These hindrances include:
- Sensual desire
- Ill will, anger, or hatred
- Worry and restlessness
- Sluggishness or laziness
- Indecisiveness, doubt, vacillation, cynicism, pessimism
Train yourself to breathe in being sensitive to your mind; breathe out being sensitive to your mind. Train yourself to breathe in satisfying your mind; breath out satisfying your mind. Train yourself to breath in to steady your mind, and breathe out to steady your mind. Train yourself to breath in releasing your mind, and breath out releasing your mind.
Breath in long, aware that you are breathing in long, breath out long, aware that you are breathing out long. If you breath in short, be aware that you are breathing in short; if you breath out short, be aware that you are. Train yourself to breath in sensitive to your entire body, and breath out being sensitive to your entire body. Train yourself to breath in calming your bodily processes, and breath out calming your bodily processes.
Train yourself to breath in sensitive to rapture, and breathe out sensitive to rapture. Train yourself to breath in sensitive to pleasure, and breathe out sensitive to pleasure. Train yourself to breathe in sensitive to your mental processes, and breath out sensitive to your mental processes. Train yourself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breath out calming mental processes.
A more advanced form of meditation is, 'shikantaza,' or, 'emptiness mediation.' With emptiness meditation you do not follow anything at all; it involves no concentration, simply quiet mindfulness. With emptiness meditation you hold your mind as if you are ready for things to happen, yet do not allow your mind to become attached to anything at all. Things such as smells, sounds, images, thoughts, or aches simply drift in and out as if they were clouds in a small breeze.
People are very used to our hyperactive minds; many of us have a difficult time with our thoughts and we hardly notice that our mind are usually filled with activity. When we first sit and meditate we are many times caught off guard by all the activity in our minds. Some people find it helpful to use a bit of imagination to help them to meditate. You might; instead of counting your breaths as you exhale, choose to imagine a quiet and peaceful scene such as a peaceful forest until the noise in your mind becomes quiet.
Meditate for around fifteen minutes each day; maybe in the mornings or evening when things are quieter. If meditating for this amount of time each day is too much for you, do it less. If you want to meditate more, do it more. There is no need to become frustrated or competitive. Remember not to look forward to a sudden explosion of enlightenment; if you have wonderful thoughts great! If you want to, write them down.
"The purpose of Buddhist meditation, therefore, is to gain more than an intellectual understanding of this truth, to liberate ourselves from the delusion and thereby put an end to both ignorance and craving."
About Buddhist Meditation
Meditation is the conscious cultivation of mindfulness, positive emotion, and clear perception of the ways things are. Meditation is not a form of prayer, in which we call upon an external agency, but a form of inner training, in which we cultivate new ways of being.
How to Meditate
"Meditation can also help us to understand our own mind. We can learn how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy."
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