Meditation is not merely popular in countries like India, Sri Lanka or China, but now, also in various Western ones like the US, Canada and UK as well. Tagging behind the growing craze for yoga and the quest for spiritual and mental peace, people are rapidly turning to meditation to cure modern ills like stress, hypertension and depression. The following are 10 ways to meditate. Enjoy!
Many a professional runner has described running as a rather normal form of meditation. When you focus wholly on the activity your body is undergoing, with no distractions elsewhere, your mind delves deep into your being, allowing you an experience that borders on the subconscious. Running helps channeling the pent up frustration or heat in one’s mind and transmute it into safe physical therapy. The other reasons why running is so favoured a method of meditation are that in addition to helping hone concentration, it keeps one in top form and burns much needed calories far better than any amount of gymming can.
Stress relief by way of musical pursuits is not uncommon, especially in today’s world of easily accessible music. Meditating with the aid of music can be done by different ways – it can be done by listening to music, while playing to music, or by even doing both together. Music is often described as a “drug” for many, and that it is used to calm one down, energize one up or keep one going through a tiring day is not surprising. Be it Bach or Yo Yo Ma, Edith Piaf or Eminem, Bob Marley or Jack White, listening to music is a real help and solace for most. A common misconception people labour under is that the “meditative” kind of music has to necessarily be that of the flute, sitar or piano. That however, is not the case. Electronica and trance music serve the same purpose, as does other genres like rap or even death metal.
Playing music is just an upgrade to the aforementioned form of meditation. When you become one with instruments and the melody they exude, there is a inexplicable harmony that carries you beyond the realms of perception itself.
And if that is not meditation, what is?
While it may be an unusual entry in this list, taking a long shower or tub bath does totally qualify as a method of meditation. There probably isn’t a single being on the planet, who after a gruelling day, doesn’t wish for a good scrub all over. The warming or cooling effect of water on the body does wonders on the mind, helping it relax and rejuvenate almost simultaneously. When you take some time out, in the bathroom while bathing, to think deeply about cleansing your entire being, or even better leave your thoughts blank and think nothing at all, you are elevated, if only for a short period of time, to a different dimension altogether.
Don’t be surprised. Sleep actually happens to be one of the most productive forms of meditation. And that’s partially why it is so necessary for us to carry it out without interruption each day. The perfect way of meditating by sleeping is by shutting tight your eyes, lying in a comfortable position, and purging the brain of all preoccupying passions.
6. Stare at an Object
To blankly and constantly stare an object in your vicinity may also qualify as a form of meditation. The benefits of meditating in this manner is that it can be done anywhere – be it in an office, in a train or even during a meal at home. In order to master this technique, you have to learn to keep aside all thoughts for a temporary period of time, and put in all your mental faculties into your activity – which comprises occupying all your visual capacities unflinchingly on the aforementioned object. A point that needs to be mentioned here, is that if you broaden your definition of object to real people, it might just prove a tad risky, considering that nowadays, one can easily be labelled a creep for leering at a co-passenger or fellow worker.
Another facet of this very technique, developed specifically while travelling is that of staring at the horizon when in a moving vehicle. You may not be wholly successful in doing this if your journey is through a crowded city, but more often than not, one is able to look at the cityscape at meditate in this very manner. It really doesn’t matter what you stare at. The thing of significance is to set your eyes on the object (or horizon, or cityscape, or even a cloud on the sky) and focus on it until it moves away.
Writing is a joy for those who’ve discovered it’s endless possibilities. While this may not stick to the conventional yardsticks set down for meditation, it most certainly can be categorized as a method of meditation. When you put pen to paper and feed through the nib your turbulent thoughts, you not only are maintaining a dairy of sorts, thus making yourself more accessible to you, but also ensuring you distill out all volatility that threatens to affect your actions and decisions and ultimately, the internal solace which keeps you sane.
Writing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to scrawl into a book something extremely meaningful. Writing may construe simply doodling or repeatedly penning down a single word, line after line, page after page. Believe it or not, such a practice can calm you down to an unbelievable extent. I have personally known elderly people who maintain books full of nothing but a single word like “Ram” written over and over again.
Conventional meditation needs no introduction. Being the most famous type, and practiced most extensively, conventional meditation involves simply sitting with knees folded and back straight, in the typical “aasan” position. You then shut your eyes and repeat a (usually) monosyllabic word like “Om”.
The one feature that differentiates dancing from the other entries into his list is that is combines two kinds of meditation methods – music and physical therapy.
Now that we live in a world of openness and free expression, it is a shame if people still have their reservations about indulging in dance for fear of being judged or laughed at. Males specially wallow in such unsubstantiated fears, which is a major reason why depression and suicidal tendencies are so commonly diagnosed from among members of the sex.
Dancing is both liberating and rejuvenating. Salma Hayek is quoted to have once said that if you feel yourself going down in the dumps or becoming a self-contained wreck, you must stand in front of a mirror and dance the ugliest, most unattractive dance you’ve ever danced. And if you don’t laugh or open up after this, you probably never will.
Dancing, as a form of meditation, is even better practised with eyes shut and radio off. That way, you’re only concentrating on your steps and your movement.
While praying may seem a tad bit similar to sitting erect and chanting, it differs in the sense that it doesn’t need a fixed position or religious jargon to follow. Anyone believing in a higher power can revert to it, while giving himself up for the period during praying. Praying may typically constitute praise for a God, salutations to him/her, a plea for forgiveness and a entreaty for help. An essential detail to worth noting is that prayer must always be done on a personal level, with minimal pretence and maximum sincerity. While puritans say that a belief in God is necessary for prayer to be meaningful, many also believe that a mere acknowledgement of there existing a higher force that keeps the universe in order is sufficient. The merit of prayer as a form of meditation is that no one is excluded from carrying it out; religion offers no restrictions and Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists can all pray with the same fervour and sense of purpose. The same rules of focus and total submission to the activity at hand apply for meditative prayer as well.
1. Mind Games
I’ve saved the most debatable for the last. While many may disagree, mind games like crosswords and Sudoku, and even chess or checkers have been put forth by theorists to be forms of meditation. This is specially in light of statements by various figures like Vishwanathan Anand and Magnus Carlssen describing their experiences in chess as “spiritual” and “transcendental”. So next time you have the ” Connect 4″ kit out, and are ready for a game, put in your mental all into the activity, analyse deeply every nuance and move, and you’ve completed your quota of mediation for the day.