Meditation can seem like a bit of a mystery. You have quit likely heard it is good for you but you might not know what it really is all about. Or how to actually practice it. In this article I answer all the common questions about meditation. So you can save yourself the time and effort of trawling the internet.
Why is Meditation Becoming Popular? 📈
There are three main factors that have made meditation more popular.
One is travel. Meditation is rooted in Buddhist traditions from Asia. Ease of travel has allowed the message to travel from the East to the West. Teachers from the East have travelled to spread the word. And people from the West have travelled to learn about meditation and brought this knowledge back.
The other factor is the internet. The internet has connected everyone and is by far the largest knowledge repository in the world. Whatever you are seeking an answer to, the internet has an answer.
The third factor is the general explosion of interest in health and well-being. Physical exercise, diet and yoga are all booming industries because people are interested in improving their lives. And meditation has lots of benefits that are starting to be uncovered and gain attention.
Can Anybody Meditate?
The short answer is yes, anybody can meditate. All that is required is consciousness and the ability to bring your attention to the present moment.
If you are reading this article, you certainly have all the capabilities to meditate. This shouldn’t be a concern.
I believe I started meditating in the easiest possible way: Using guided meditations on a free meditation app. To see exactly what I did and still do, check this out.
What is Meditation Exactly? 🤔
Meditation is the action of bringing your attention to the present moment. Typically, meditation is associated to a form of practice. Of which there are two types:
- The first and main type is formal, timed meditation. Which is usually about being still but can also be walking.
- The other is informal or open-eye meditation. That is bringing your awareness to your senses when doing an activity. For example, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings when brushing your teeth.
Why is Meditation Important? 💭
Meditation is important because it is about understanding and experiencing the true nature of life. As human beings, the reality is we can only live life through the present moment. And meditation is about bringing your attention to this.
Unfortunately, our minds are not naturally designed to be in the moment. We think about and analyse the past. We reminisce. We think about doing something else than what we’re currently doing. And we day dream about the future.
If you are wondering why we are wired to be this way do checkout this post.
Will Meditation Make Me Happier? 😊
Generally, yes. Meditation helps you to slow down and see things as they truly are. With practice, you learn to observe life rather than perceive it through your own beliefs, thoughts and feelings.
A great example is practicing loving kindness meditation. This type of meditation has you think of a person you dislike or hate. Then it forces you to develop an understanding that this person is a human being just like you too.
Practicing loving kindness meditation is a fantastic way to form a deep-rooted connection with all types of people.
I recommend trying the Loving Kindness on the Go Meditation by Manoj Dias on the free meditation app, Insight Timer.
For more meditations on Insight Timer checkout our guide here.
Does Meditation Help with Depression or Anxiety? 😶
Typically, yes. However, it should be noted that depression and anxiety can be very serious health issues. And meditation is not an ailment. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety it is best to consult a health professional.
What should be noted is that national health services around the world do recognise the benefits of meditation and mindfulness when it comes to stress, depression and anxiety.
What Do I Need to Meditate? 🎧
You do not need a specific object or environment to meditate in necessarily. Having the ability to pause and bring your awareness to the present moment is all that is needed.
Unlike doing physical exercise, meditation does not require any special equipment or clothing. However, for formal or timed practice, it is best to have a comfortable place that is isolated.
If you want to do guided meditations it is also advised to use headphones but it’s not necessary.
Where Should I Meditate? 🏠
You technically can meditate anywhere. For formal meditation practice, however, it is best to meditate in a quiet comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed.
The ideal situation (space permitting) would be to setup a meditation zone in a quiet room in the home that can be used at any time.
When Should I Meditate? ⌚
There is no right time to meditate. Many people prefer to do their formal meditation practice in the morning. This way it can form part of a routine.
Just pick a time for your formal practice that suits you. And ideally stick to that daily. Forming the habit to meditate is often where the difficulty lies for beginners.
Doing informal meditations should not be neglected. The more you practice mindfulness the greater your skill.
How Long Should I Meditate for? ⏱️
This is completely up to you. When I started I did very short guided meditation of less than 5 minutes.
How Should I Meditate? / In What Position Should I Meditate? 💺
It is a common misconception that in order to meditate you have to sit with a straight back on the floor with your legs crossed. But that’s not the case.
You should meditate in what feels comfortable to you.
This could be sitting on a chair or on a cushion on the floor or even lying down.
I personally prefer to meditate lying down. But I do this after my morning coffee to ensure I don’t just fall back asleep.
Why does Meditation Focus on the Breath so Much? 🌬️
The breath is used as an anchor in meditation. Because the breath is always with you, you can always bring your attention to it to bring your awareness back to the present moment.
Other common anchors include listening to sounds and paying attention to feelings in the body.
Why is Meditating so Difficult? 😵
[bctt tweet=”If you have tried meditating and found it to be difficult then you are not perceiving practicing meditation in the right way. It is not about judging yourself.” username=”mindfulchiggs”]
If you get drawn into your thoughts for nearly your whole practice that is completely fine. You have learnt something: That you are too absorbed in your head right now.
People that meditate do not possess some special quality you do not have. They have all gone through the same difficult feelings and questions of whether meditating is worth it. They all have days when they are wrapped up in their own thoughts. You can take comfort in this.
The key thing is not to judge yourself. Because meditation is not about emptying your mind.
If you do not want to be in your head so much then try counting 20 breaths. Feel the sensation of air entering your nostrils, your belly filling and the air leaving your nostrils. Counting 20 breaths this way will pattern interrupt the tendency to fall straight back into thinking. Keep restarting the count until you can get to 20.
When you next practice meditation, recognise that formal meditation is not about wanting to do anything. It is about bringing attention to what is really happening now. Tell yourself this right before your next practice.
Do I Need a Teacher to meditate? 👨🏼🏫
The short answer is yes but whether you need to pay for a teacher is subjective.
What I cannot comment on is whether mentors and coaches are worth paying for. Because I haven’t actually had one. What I do advise is to initially try meditating for yourself using guided meditations. And from there you can make a more informed decision whether you should get mentor/coach or not.
The main thing I have paid for is an 8 week MBSR course. I’m now 5 weeks in and I have to say, the knowledge I have gained so far, has certainly been valuable.
Can I Meditate with Other People? 👥
Yes but formal meditation, in general, is not a group activity. It is a solo act of coming to a better understanding of yourself.
If you wish to practice with a teacher, then a class can be a real cost effective way to do this. Right now, there are many free or donation-only classes running throughout the world.
Silent retreats are another way you can experience meditating with other people. Again I have not actually been on one so I cannot comment on them.
If you are interested in finding out what silent retreats are like then checkout Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier.
Want to Find Out How I Meditate? 👣
Any More Questions?
I hope this article covers all the niggling questions you have surrounding meditation. If you have any more, please do comment below. I’d be super happy to help you out.