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There meditation is a practice aimed at making us reach a state of physical and mental relaxation, with benefits proven by numerous scientific studies, the latest of which from the prestigious Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in collaboration with the University of California and Harvard Medical School.
But let's go in order and start by understanding how you can approach meditation and how to do meditation.
The best way to start practicing meditation correctly is to start with the guided meditation which provides a path in the course of which a teacher explains how to perform exercises of increasing difficulty in the correct way, managing distractions, such as background noises or thoughts that emerge and distract from meditation.
Usually we start with an exercise focused on breathing, an ideal starting point to approach meditation.
You sit in a comfortable position with a relaxed body and begin to focus on your breathing. However, it is necessary to clarify that meditation is NOT an exercise for learning breathing techniques, breathing is instead an instrument used to start meditation.
On the net there are a number of free audio tracks to get closer to meditation and even some app specially made.
What I'm using is "10% Happier"Which you can download for free at this address and which includes a 7-day course with audio tracks created by Joseph Goldstein, a meditation teacher since 1974 and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society.
After 7 days, you can decide whether to continue the path using a dedicated coach in exchange for a monthly fee of US $ 9.99 / month or to continue on your own or ... to abandon meditation.
This is instead an audio track with background music by Niccolò Angeli:
The official site of Niccolò, who has been practicing meditation for over 12 years, where you will find other interesting ideas and other traces is http://infinitemandala.com/
The practice of meditation allows, over time, to have a series of benefits, which as I wrote at the beginning of this article, are proven by authoritative studies.
The main benefits I'm:
- a decreased stress
- the mood improvement
- the improvement of self-control skills
- a greater ability to concentrate
- the memory improvement
- a decrease in anxiety states (according to a study by Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore)
Some tests have also shown that meditation helps decrease pain perception.
All of these benefits contribute to an "overall level of happiness".
Meditation: types and differences
The purpose for which you decide to practice meditation is dependent on the individual and can be the simple improvement of psychophysical conditions or a goal of a spiritual, religious or philosophical nature.
Let's see some types:
- Transcendental Meditation: involves the repetition for a few minutes, twice a day, of a specific sound, called "mantra“, Which according to supporters would allow to reach a state of deep relaxation of the body and mind, a state in which the mind relaxes without thoughts, called“ transcendence ”.
The techniques and practice of transcendental meditation have been the subject of 524 scientific researches, published in 160 scientific journals (data updated to 2012). Among these researches, 364 were peer-reviewed and published by leading scientific journals, such as "Science and Scientific American“.
The positive results of this research have meant that transcendental meditation has been introduced as a teaching subject in various schools around the world: in the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, South Africa and Israel.
To deepen the theme of Transcendental Meditation you can find several resources on the net and some books, including: "Introduction to Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation. A technique for living life in happiness, health, success and fulfillment“, Written by Franco Canteri and Andrea Bianetti and on sale on Amazon for 9.27 Euros.
- Zen meditation: performed in a sitting position with the aim of gaining control of breathing, control of posture and control of the mind. It is typical of Japanese Buddhism: Zen is in fact the Japanese word that means "contemplation". The full name of this type of meditation would be "zazen" where "za" means "sitting".
The main positions are Lotus Flower, Semilot, Burmese, on a mat, Seiza, on a chair, depicted in the image below:
- Buddhist meditation:is the type of meditation used in the practice of Buddhism that includes any method that has theenlightenment or mental development (bhavana) as a goal. The closest word to express this concept in the Buddhist tradition is bhavana or mental development.
The main methods of Buddhist meditation are divided into vipassana meditation (meditation of intuition) esamatha meditation (tranquility meditation) of which you will find more details below.
- Vipassana meditation: is a meditation technique born in India with the aim of developing full awareness of all sensory and mental stimuli. The term "vipassana"In fact means"see things as they really are”.
Vipassana meditation allows you to face the problems of daily life with calm and balance, eliminating the sources of negativity and suffering.
The technique of vipassanā meditation is taught by Tathagatha Shakyamuni in Talk on the fundamentals of mindfulness (Satipatthanasutta) and is divided into the following moments:
- Contemplation of the body
- Contemplation of sensations
- Contemplation of the mind
- Contemplation of mental objects
- Samatha meditation: it is a technique aimed at achieving a state of inner peace throughstates of absorption divided into 8 levels (jhana): four of fine materiality and four intangible.
Meditation of the 8 different levels requires you to focus on an object among those indicated by the Buddha. For immaterial Jhanas, one usually meditates on colors or elements. For Jhanas of fine materiality one can also use i Brahma Vihara, contemplations of death, of the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, meditation on the body and on the breath.
- Christian meditation: involves focusing on specific thoughts (for example, a passage from the Holy Scriptures) to reflect on their meaning in the context of God's love.
The main goal is to gain awareness of God's revelations, applying greater concentration and reflection than vocal prayer.
Reference figures in Christian history who have dedicated their studies to Christian meditation are, for example, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila and Francis de Sales.
Meditation and Yoga
Meditation is an integral part of traditional Yoga but it should be emphasized that today the term "yoga" often means the practice of a varied set of activities that include gymnastics of the body and breathing that can considerably move away from traditional Yoga, while being aimed to meditation or relaxation.
The "authentic Yoga" must however be understood as a path to be carried out under the guidance of a teacher with the file to reach one's own spiritual realization.
Meditation to sleep
Meditation is often used successfully by people suffering from insomnia. The relaxation of the mind induced by meditation makes it possible to facilitate sleep and above all to induce a peaceful sleep without negative thoughts.
Our other related articles that may interest you are:
- 5 Tibetans: benefits
- Mindfulness Meditation
- Children meditation
- Music for meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Meditation app