Meditation: Best Techniques, Benefits and Dangers
Smart people want to change their lives for the better. They are looking for recreative practices and psychological tools to achieve inner harmony. To become smart and get balance of mind, seekers are turning to religion and meditation technique as a part of the world religions. Such a method is liked by some people and hated by others. Let’s try to figure out the benefits and dangers of meditation and the ways of using it without harming mental and physical health.
Meditation: Definition and Techniques
Meditation is a thoughtful thinking and concentration. It started to be popular in European culture just in the middle of last century. It is a part of yoga. In reality, it is not only a Buddhist religion is making impact on the inner world via observations, thinking and concentration of attention. Christians are usually concentrating during prayer telling the beads. Buddhists are using 108 beads to calculate mantras (it is a key word, prayer or wish) and frequency of breath. Repeating the keyword is typical for human being, he is pronouncing it as an incantation concentrating on «own» object as follows:
- Child is very important for mother;
- Business is very important for businessman;
- Health is very important for sick person;
- Win is very important for sportsman;
- Power is very important for politician.
Focusing on achievement of set goals reflected via words, human being achieves desired result. Yogis are using different techniques if they have set several tasks or wish to achieve a certain state of mind and develop self-protection against external aggression. If you separate meditation from mystery, then you can successfully use it to improve yourself and develop stamina and character.
Researchers of modern meditation techniques assume that there is no difference between meditation and creation of thorough mental conclusions. Analytic psychology only implies use of something unconscious during meditation such as human instincts and intuition. Thus, our conscience is using instinctive programs which strengthen concentration of attention on something. This mechanism is used in traditional medicine. In scientific literature, there are data regarding favorable impact of meditation on functioning of internal organs.
Correct Meditation Technique
Gurus have elaborated many rules to make very simple exercises and each guru has own vision of how to make them. But the truth is that they all are working in a similar way. One should concentrate on right words and breathing during meditation. He should choose one image on which he should focus his attention only without thinking of other objects. It is not so hard thing to do. Just imagine yourself a blue ball. Make it a center of your imagination. Soon you will realize that there is nothing else existing in your world except of this ball. Now make this exercise more complex: focus on a whole image without thinking of anything else. Your wishes can also be represented by means of different symbols which can be abstract or related to something.
Meditation techniques are based on the following principles:
- Objective and imaginative meditation. It is done using yantra which is a geometric picture with hidden symbol or meaning.
- Meditation based on own idea. For example, you want to become a strong person. Relaxing, you are convincing yourself that you are strong person complementing this statement with colorful pictures on which you are focusing your imagination. You are observing the way your image is forming in your head and experiencing certain feelings which you should remember.
- Meditation using sound. You can choose Indian mantras or invent your own mantras which you should repeat in a singing voice. You can also use beads during this doing. There is special music that helps you to gather your thoughts such as nice sounds of nature or birds singing.
- Breathing meditation is based on a deep free breath using the formulae «one – four – two»: 1 second – breathing in, 4 seconds – breath hold, 2 seconds – extended breathing out.
Meditation should be done immediately upon awakening in a position «Lotus» with crossed legs sitting on the floor. Static positions can differ: one can sit in chair, office chair or lay down. Meditation on the move is called dynamic and suits for sportsmen. One meditation set should last for 15 to 30 minutes.
Meditation in Sport
Sportsmen quite often experience maximum loading and happen to be in stressful situations. Sportsmen should be very resilient and with a stamina, therefore sports shrinks and coaches recommend meditation to relax. Such a method is very popular in Russian sport especially among sportsmen that practice martial arts:
- Tae Kwon Do;
- Karate-Do (Kudo);
Professionals on martial arts note that sports meditation implies concentration, attention and wisdom which are united by psychological impact of the environments and impact itself. This combination helps sportsmen to gain inner strength, develop stamina and become strong with their mind. Research has shown that people, who practice meditation, develop emotional state of mind to achieve best results. Sportsmen are usually calm and in balanced state of mind after meditation and before competitions.
When sportsmen should use cold gun, meditation helps fighters to stay focused. In «Zen», archer should exercise meditation using imaginary target learning how to become one with target and arrow even in full darkness.
Meditation implies participation of sportsmen as a student and a coach as a guru. Relationships between coach and sportsmen should be trustworthy. Guru should be experienced in life and smart, he should know how to affect person in a certain mental way. Professional psychologists or sports coaches are a very good fit for this process. The most important thing in meditation is for the student to believe into collaboration and close connection with his teacher and coach. One can’t achieve anything without such a belief.
Professional recommend to act in the following creative way:
- One should observe his way of behavior without thinking that this thing was done in a good or bad way. It is good to think that the state in which you are in is the right one.
- One should try to stick with certain images and elaborate them further.
- One should practice conscious breathing using the following pattern: breathing in – pause – breathing out. Meditating person should focus on movement of front abdominal wall during this breathing pattern.
- One should completely relax and concentrate on certain object, idea or sound.
- One should not concentrate on anything else and enter so-called empty state of mind. This is a very good thing to learn as it helps sportsmen in situations which require immediate decision to be made.
Positive Impact of Meditation on Sport and Life
Depression, tiredness and stresses negatively affect health and personality. It has been proven that meditation can turn negative thoughts into positive and it helps sportsmen to develop certain qualities such as:
- Concentration of attention;
- Mental power;
- Sympathy and love;
- Wish to win.
Empty mind is a very good thing when fighters, pilots or racing car drivers should make important decision. Right way of breathing helps to relax and regain power after tiresome workout. Meditation kills stress and adrenalin does not evoke any bad changes in cardiovascular system in this case.
Recent research has shown that meditation positively affects the following things:
- Interpersonal relationships;
- Replenishing energy resources;
- Healing insomnia;
- Decreasing biological age;
- Metabolism regulation.
Physicians have identified the therapeutic effect of drugs after meditation sessions. Anesthesiologists noted cases of immersion into “anesthesia” during meditation, that is a lack of activity of central nervous system and brain as it usually happens during coma or anesthesia in a course of surgery.
Myths and Prejudice
Neuropsychologists “lure” people with promises to teach them during 2-3 sessions how to meditate. They state that they know how to reach an empty state of mind very quickly. Others use the principles of transcendental meditation based on Buddhist practices such as Zen, Chan, Sri Bhoagavan and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. These represent the highest stage of meditation, which is not required for solving everyday problems the average person is coping with.
Psychics and sorcerers preach meditation wealth of love. Ostensibly, you can get a lot of money through meditation and win back your sweetheart’s love. But it is a myth. If you are practicing meditation, then you will become a confident person, who is not affected by external circumstances and you will become closer to reaching your goal, but you won’t get back love or become rich this way.
Another mistake is to forget about everything and meditate for hours trying to achieve the “nirvana” state of mind. Don’t be like Buddhist monks, who are engaged in such practices for a life time, they have different goals in life following their own spiritual path.
Meditation is not a way to “scrounge” some benefit from the unknown “higher intelligence”. This is a tool to become better and develop certain mental qualities, which help to control body and mind. Contemplation is not any magic key that will open the chest with untold wealth. Everything is up to you. You can live wealthy life or experience poverty, love or hate somebody. Meditation is an opportunity to make a difference and become spiritually richer, more tolerant to the shortcomings of other people.
Good luck with your meditation endeavors!