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The Essential Elements of Meditation

The Essential Elements of Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is an ancient practice that is ideally an effortless state of being. It involves attending to the present with non-judgmental acceptance. Practice your meditation using these five essential elements to help you to regulate your emotions better, bring about positive changes in your body and mind, and reach a state of relaxation. These essential elements will help to ensure that you get to realize the most significant impact from your meditation practice.

Motivation

Engaging in meditation entails focusing on various things. However, it is your underlying motivation that will determine whether the actions you take will bring about positive or negative results. Taking the time to cultivate your desire that everyone deserves true happiness and allow those intention to guide your efforts. When you combine your meditation with deep motivation, even the simple act of breathing can bring powerful transformations.

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Letting Go

When you begin your meditation practice, the major step that you have to take is letting go of any expectations about what should or should not happen. Experiences continue to change, so being hopeful of a specific expectation isn’t important. The most important thing that you need to do is be aware of the present moment.

Approach

The approach of meditation is how you get to view the process of meditation by viewing the contents of your mind and the specific meditation technique. When you have a clear view of both, the process of meditation will be effortless and smooth. The practice of meditation requires a certain level of commitment to be successful.

Practice

This involves making the actual move of doing meditation. Once you have chosen the meditation technique that best fits your needs, you need to begin your practice. This means sitting in a comfortable position and space and engaging in the process by observing your breath, body sensations, and other objects.

Integration

This entails incorporating the clarity and calm that you’ve developed during your meditation practice into other parts of your life. Integrating the process of meditation enables you to be in a meditative state wherever you are. This means that you can be in a meditative state when you are walking, sitting on the bus, or traveling in the car.

Mindfulness can be practiced during your meditation sessions, as well as in everyday situations. Engaging in regular meditation can help to improve your emotional, mental, and physical health.

 

The Basic Elements of Meditation

The Basic Elements of Meditation

Life can get a little crazy. The hectic pace and demands that we often face on a daily basis tend to leave us feeling stressed, tired, overworked, and unhappy. Mindfulness meditation is an easy and effective way to relax your body, calm your mind, and become grounded, finding inner peace amidst the chaos. The basic elements that are involved in the practice of meditation include finding a quiet place to practice, having a poised posture that is comfortable, getting an object to focus on, and being able to develop a passive attitude without any attachments.

The Place

If you are just starting your meditation practice, it is important to start the process off right by finding a place that is comfortable. You need a space that will allow you to feel completely relaxed and free of distractions. Before you begin your practice, you need to turn things off, like your cell phone or any form of device that would be distracting.

The Posture

Another basic element that you need to work on is maintaining a good body posture as you meditate. The posture that you take can impact how your practice goes. While the most natural posture you can take is the sitting position, you need to choose a pose that makes you feel comfortable and focused. Try to avoid using postures that can lead to falling asleep, like lying down or reclining.

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The Object

When you begin a practice of meditation, you need to have an object that you can focus on. The object can either be a repeated mantra, focusing on the breathing process, bodily sensations, or any other object like the flame from a candle. Engaging in meditation that will enhance your level of concentration requires that you have an object to focus on.

The Attitude

The final basic element that you need for successful meditation practice is a positive attitude. When you have a positive attitude, you can look at the external distractions and your internal thoughts in a different way. Having a passive attitude allows you to watch the thoughts as they come and go in your mind, without having any attachments to them.

During the process of meditation, it is important to stay focused. If you notice that your mind has started wandering, bring your attention back to the object of focus. These basic elements of meditation can help you get started on the path to clarity and awareness.

The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

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The 5 Best Meditation Techniques for Beginners

Meditation is something that many of us want to do well to gain the benefits associated with the practice. Unfortunately, for many of us, the constant mind chatter can make it frustrating to sit down and meditate for any period. If you are starting out with your meditation practice, here are five great techniques that can get you started on the path to mindfulness.

Technique #1 – Breathing Meditation

This is one of the best techniques if you are just starting out in your meditation practice. It is an ancient and powerful technique that is extremely effective. By just paying attention to your breathing, you give your mind a point of focus in a relaxed way. To start this technique, get yourself in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and slowly begin to observe your breathing. Pay attention to how it feels as you breathe in and out. If you find your mind starting to wander, just bring your focus back to your breathing.

Technique #2 – Mindfulness Meditation

In mindfulness meditation you become fully present in the moment by paying attention to the sensations in your body. Start the practice by focusing on your breathing, then allow yourself to become aware of the other sensations running throughout your body. You don't want to analyze or judge the experience; you simply want to observe. 

Technique #3 – Mantra Meditation

By repeating a sacred word, like "aum" or a meaningful phrase, you can bring your mind into a state of tranquility. With this technique, you can either repeat the mantra out loud or repeat it to yourself silently. 

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Technique #4 – Walking Meditation

If you don’t think that you can sit still for an extended period, you can try the walking meditation technique. This can be done anywhere. You simply have to focus on your body as it moves. Focus on how your arms swing, how your legs are lifted and extended, and how your feet rise and touch back down on the ground. If your mind starts to wander, bring your focus back to the movement of your body.

Technique #5 – Empty Minded Meditation

Empty minded meditation, allows you to be aware without having to have a specific focus. To practice this technique, sit quietly in a comfortable place. Close your eyes and let your thoughts freely float in and out of your mind. Observe each thought as they enter your mind without any attachment or judgment.

These five meditation techniques are simple enough that you can start your practice today, or enhance an existing one.

Beginning Meditation: Tips to Help You Get Started

Beginning Meditation: Tips to Help You Get Started

When you first start out practicing meditation, you may feel overwhelmed with all the instructions in your mind: calm your mind, watch your breathing, keep your back straight. Practicing meditation shouldn’t be stressful. Here are the top eight tips to help take the pressure off and allow your practice to unfold naturally.

1. Start with Quick 5-minute Sessions

You don't have to start your practice with a long, 20-minute session. When you are first starting out on your path, it can be overwhelming to try and sustain a more extended session. When first starting out, this can feel brutal. When you’re ready for more, you can move your sessions up to ten minutes.

2. Stretch First

Before you start your meditation session, take some time to stretch or do some yoga. This will allow you to prepare your body for sitting in a single position for a long time. Even taking the time to roll your neck and stretch your back beforehand can help with your comfort levels.

3. Set Your Timer

Setting a timer for your meditation session will keep you from having to check your clock regularly. Doing this removes a huge distraction from your practice. Setting your timer will allow you to relax and enjoy the experience.

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4. Remove Distractions

Turn off your cell phone, or better yet, leave it in another room. You don’t want to have any distractions in your space as you meditate. The best place to meditate is a room that has a door that you can close.

5. Don’t Try Too Hard

Meditation, when done correctly should be soothing, relaxing, and effortless. Meditation is nothing more than observation. There should be no effort involved, only observing your breathing with your conscious awareness. So, don’t work too hard at it.  

6. Create a Daily Practice

Meditating at the same time every day will allow you to develop a habit that becomes easier to accomplish. If you don’t build your practice into your daily routine, you’ll find yourself forgetting.

7. Get Relaxed Before You Start

You want to be sure to wear comfortable clothing and be in a relaxing environment. Make sure your space is comfortable and take a few deliberate, deep breaths before you start.

8. Try Different Types of Meditation

There are a dozen techniques that you can try from mindfulness meditation to mantra meditation. Try out several different types to see which one best suits your needs.

5 Surprising Benefits You Can Gain from Meditation

5 Surprising Benefits You Can Gain from Meditation

We’ve all heard that practicing meditation can be good for us, but beyond the common knowledge that it's relaxing, we might not be exactly sure why it's so good for us. The truth is that meditation allows you to experience many benefits, both direct and indirect. Here are five surprising benefits that you can gain from regular meditation practice.

1. It Improves Fertility

Stress has been proven to hurt our immune systems. But did you know it can be equally devastating to our fertility? While scientists aren’t sure about the exact link between stress and infertility, they have discovered that women who took part in stress-reduction techniques were more likely to get pregnant.

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2. It Improves Self-Acceptance

When we engage in meditation, we become more aware of our thoughts and more capable of controlling them. A crucial part of meditation is noticing our thoughts and feelings without judging them. This helps us to develop a different perspective on our inner dialogue so that we can develop a greater understanding of ourselves.

3. It Improves Self-Confidence

Our self-confidence is built on the stories we know about ourselves. So, just like our self-acceptance can be improved with meditation, so can our self-esteem. When we experience negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves during meditation, we learn to notice them at the moment, and not hang onto them. After a time, this leaves us able to handle negative, internal dialogue better outside of our meditation sessions.

4. It Improves our Relationships

Our relationships can be improved through the practice of meditation in two ways. First, it allows us the time to reconnect with ourselves. The more grounded, relaxed, and self-accepting we are, the more we can be our best selves with others. Secondly, it can help us to develop our awareness of the stories we hold around others. Meditation provides us with the ability to see stories we have with others from a different perspective.

5. It Improves Creativity

Many internal and external factors contribute to the creative blocks that we experience. When we struggle to break through specific thought patterns, practicing meditation is like hitting the restart button. Meditation allows us to step away from and out of these patterns, making it easier to move past them.

Engaging in regular meditation provides you with a whole host of benefits. Practicing for just ten minutes a day can change your entire world. While the length of your practice isn't significant, the frequency that you practice will determine how successful you are on your path.

3 Physical Benefits of Regular Meditation Practice

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3 Physical Benefits of Regular Meditation Practice

As meditation has become more popular in our culture, scientists have begun to study the many physical benefits that can be gained through regular practice. Practicing meditation helps to slow down your breath, quiet your mind, and find peace. Along with its numerous mental benefits, practicing meditation on a regular basis can be a useful alternative to medical treatments for a variety of health concerns. Here are three physical benefits that daily practice of meditation can have on your life.

Reduced Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, meditation has been shown to help. Various studies have discovered that if you can focus and calm your mind and body, you have the capability of controlling the pain. Meditation makes it possible for you to face the common symptoms that are associated with chronic pain, like muscle tension, sweating, and irritability.

Practicing mindfulness meditation will enable you to come to terms with the pain that you are experiencing, instead of just running away from it. Taking the focus away from your pain will enable you not to experience as much of it. Meditation helps to shift your attention away from the illness and into the moment.

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Improved Cardiovascular Health

Meditation has been proven to help lower blood pressure while allowing the body be less responsive to the hormones that cause stress. When you enter into a relaxed meditative state, the brain releases more nitric oxide which is responsible for the regulation of blood pressure levels, the improved functioning of the immune system, and the enhanced functioning of the central nervous system.

Conditions like stress affect the rate at which your heart pumps blood. When you practice meditation regularly, your heart rate decreases, allowing blood to circulate through the body more efficiently. This helps keep your cardiovascular system in shape, allowing the rest of the body to function with ease and enhances your ability to handle stressful situations.

Strengthens the Immune System

Recent studies show that meditation helps to increase the activity of ‘natural-killer cells’ in the body. These cells are responsible for killing off bacteria and viruses that find their way into our body. With regular practice, you can strengthen your immune system, which will result in the reduced risk that you’ll become ill and enhance your overall health and well-being.

There are many physical benefits that you can gain from meditation. Engaging in daily mediation will help you improve your overall health, leading to living a healthier life.

The Top 5 Benefits Meditation Has on Your Emotions

The Top 5 Benefits Meditation Has on Your Emotions

We live in a busy world. We are always on the go, spending our days multitasking and trying to get it all done. Unfortunately, the constant rush to accomplish necessary tasks has left us disconnected from the present moment. Practicing mindfulness means purposely focusing your attention on the present moment. Regular mindfulness meditation has been shown to be an essential element in reducing stress and improving your overall happiness. Along with the many mental benefits, meditation can provide you with the following emotional benefits as well.

Improved Mood

Practicing meditation on a regular basis is great for boosting a lousy mood. Meditation is the perfect anecdote if you are looking to boost your mood and lead a happier, healthier life. Whether you are just having a bad day or if you are suffering from depression, engaging in meditation can help.

Lowered Stress levels

Stress is something that we've all experienced in our lives. If you engage in meditation every day, you can experience an immediate decrease in your stress levels. As you learn to focus and live in the moment, you learn how to better cope with the ongoing stressors in your life.

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Increased Calmness

When you practice meditation, you can remain calm during upsetting situations and events. Meditation brings about an awareness of your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to witness the situation without having an adverse reaction.

Emotional Strength

Meditation is based on the truth and the reality of “what is. This means that by engaging in meditation on a regular basis, it will provide you with immense clarity and greater inner strength. As you learn to be present in the moment, your fears, anxieties, and worries start to fade, leaving you feeling steady, stable, and emotionally firm.

Emotional Balance

Emotional balance means being free of the neurotic behavior that is a result of a traumatized ego. Regular meditation is a great way to cure these neurosis and unhealthy emotional states. As your consciousness is cleansed of the emotionally soaked memories, you gain freedom and balance. Your responses are no longer colored by the burdens you carry.

One of the best things about meditation is that once you learn how to do it, there is no limit to the number of benefits you’ll gain in your life. Not only will you begin to experience more balanced emotions and a healthier mental state, but you’ll be able to lower your stress levels.

 

The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation

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The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation

Over the last several years, more and more people have started practicing meditation as a way to stave off stress and health problems related to stress. When you start practicing meditation on a regular basis, your brain's physiology changes. This mental shift helps to decrease the harmful effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. Here are the top three mental health benefits of practicing meditation on a regular basis.

Preserves the Aging Brain

Various studies of the last several years have revealed that when you are in your 20s, your brain begins to decline. This reduction in volume and weight continues throughout your life. Practicing meditation on a daily basis can help prevent many of the neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. It can also help to stave off the cognitive decline that comes with age.

Meditating regularly can also help to increase the protective tissues in your brain. When you engage in meditation, you're introduced to states of intense relaxation and concentration which leads to the growth of new cells. This helps to protect against shrinkage of your grey matter.

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Reduces Stress

One of the main reasons why people practice the art of meditation is to find relief from depression, stress, and anxiety. Regular meditation practice helps to reduce the levels of stress and depression, both physically and mentally. When you experience stress or a sudden threat, your body enters into a flight or fight mode. This leads to an immediate rush of adrenaline, which can cause an increase in your blood pressure, pulse rate, and increase blood flow. Meditation helps to relieve these symptoms of stress.

Training your mind through the various meditation techniques works to increase the mental resources that can help you address stress and depression-related symptoms. The mind become clearer, more focused, and calmer, which automatically leads to the reduction of stress.

Improve Attention

In just over a decade, researchers have measured a decline in our average attention span, from 12 seconds to only eight seconds. That's a whopping 33 percent decrease, and just one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. Practicing meditation can help improve your attention span, by optimizing the flow of sensory information that your brain takes in. Meditation helps to make your brain much more efficient at processing information. 

If the hectic pace of today’s 24/7 society has your mind reeling, starting a regular practice of meditation can help. With just ten minutes a day, you can start seeing a reduction in your stress levels and an increase in your overall attention span.

The Best Scents to Reduce Stress

When people think of things that can help relieve stress, it usually has something to do with sight, touch, or sound - like a massage or hearing the rain fall during a light storm. While it may seem unlikely, your sense of smell can actually have a dramatic effect on your stress levels.

The idea of using certain scents to relax and relieve stress is referred to as aromatherapy, and it’s been shown to work fairly well. There are a wide variety of oils with different scents that you can use in aromatherapy, all with different unique effects.

Some are good for helping you relax, while others might invigorate you and help you get more work done. All of these can help you relieve stress in different ways. For example, if you’re stressed out because you’ve had a long day and you just need to unwind, then lavender might be a good option for you.

It makes you feel less stressed out, but also helps you sleep better, so don’t use lavender if you still have a long day ahead of you, because it may end up making you a bit sleepy.

On the other hand, if you’re in the middle of your day and it’s just not going well, then you can use rosemary instead. Rosemary also helps lower your levels of cortisol, but doesn’t have quite the same effect of making you tired.

Instead, it just boosts you up so that you can get the rest of your day accomplished. Similarly, lemon can have just about the same effects. Perhaps you’re a bit stressed because you’re not working as efficiently as you know you can.

In that case, a peppermint scent might help a lot. Peppermint has been shown to make you more alert and productive, which can help a lot of you’re just dragging through the day not getting much work done.

Cinnamon can also have this kind of effect. Different scents can have different effects depending on the person, so it may take some trial and error time to figure out which scents work best for you.

You might really not like the smell of cinnamon, so it wouldn’t have the same stress relieving effects on you that it would have on someone else. Try to sample a few different common scents and figure out what works well for you and what kind of effect it has and then use it throughout your day to combat stress and get a pick-me-up whenever you need it.

How Pets Can Help You Keep Stress at Bay

There’s been a significant amount of scientific research conducted around the idea of pets helping relieve stress in people. As it turns out, it’s been proven to work very well, for a variety of reasons.

Additionally, it was shown that the results tended to be best with dogs. The most significant factor in the stress relieving effects of dogs was all in our hormones. Petting and playing with a dog was shown to lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes the fight or flight syndrome with increased heartrates.

Petting dogs also increased our levels of oxytocin, a hormone that can relieve stress. This was an astounding discovery to many, and it probably relates to human’s early interactions with and domestication of canines.

So, when you’re playing with a dog at the park or with your own dog at home, that relaxed feeling you have is actually very scientific. Due to the fact that it works so well, many institutions have begun having days where dogs are brought in for stress relief.

For example, some universities have days throughout the semester where you can go visit a bunch of dogs in the library. This is used to relieve students’ stress, especially around the times of exams.

There are a few different ways that you can get in on this stress relief phenomenon. First, you could adopt your own dog or other pet. As long as your pet has ample space to move around and you have enough money to take care of them properly so that it doesn’t add to your stress, it’s worth the investment.

Just make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibilities of owning one before you make the leap into buying one. If you don’t feel ready to get a pet just yet, there are still many other ways that you can get to play with some animals.

Check around and see if you have a friend who might own one and hang out with them and their pet. You can also visit dog parks, where many pet owners are okay with you playing with their pets, as long as you ask beforehand.

Strangely, some cafes recently have begun to open up with a variety of animals in them, such as cat cafes or puppy cafes. There you can go get work done, order some coffee, and still play with a bunch of little animals running around the place.

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