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How To Practice Meditation: Methods, Classes and Principles To Get You Started

January 16, 2015

Health websites and blogs are full of testimonials and recommendations from people talking about the benefits of meditation, the enlightenment they received or the simple changes to their health; they are quick to talk about why people should join them in taking it up but they sometime neglect to mention anything about where to begin. How to practice meditation is an overlooked topic but this guide will look at the principles, styles and classes to help make the starting point clearer.

Where to start?

The first question that people ask when they consider how to practise meditation is where to start and, before you start going through directories and guides to different methods, it is important to understand the basics of the art. Once you appreciate the underlying principles and techniques you can figure out what you really want to achieve and narrow down the best course of action. With meditation you need to need to have an ability to block out thoughts, an awareness of the body and mind, mantras and focal points to concentrate on and a quiet, comfortable setting. With this in mind you can then decide if you want to specialise with a certain style, join a class or learn on your own.

Guided or personal meditation?

Once you have grasped the basic principles of mediation you then need to consider whether you practise alone at home or with guidance. Guided meditation is not just a case of having a teacher on hand to show you how to start – although there are beginners classes than help in this way – instead you will be talked through the experience, made to visualise relaxing places,and given a full sensory experience through pleasant scents and sounds. This can be replicated to a degree in your own home through your own visualizations and a suitable home environment and the personal approach is often preferable because of the nature of the experience and the ability to fit it into a day more conveniently.

What types of meditation classes and approaches are there?

There are many different types of meditation; it is not a simple case of one method for all and it can take time to find the most suitable style for your lifestyle and health needs. Yoga is not always considered as meditation by those that use it for physical health and exercise but it shares many of the principles like breathing and concentration on a single point to reduce negative thought. This method is similar to Tai chi and Qi gong, alternative eastern practices with links to meditation and martial arts.

Mantra meditation is pretty self-explanatory and leads into to transcendental meditation, where the use of chanting and deep focus are key. Most of these forms can be achieved at home or in classes but the basic principles can be applied to any situation. Walking, for example, is a great form of meditation while exercising because you can block out external thought and focus on the steps taken.

Buddhist and religious meditation

The final area to consider with meditation options is that of religious and Buddhist meditation. Many people make the automatic link between meditation and Eastern religious because of the spiritualistic element and the style of the methods. For some people this can be a turn off, particularly if they prefer the idea of secular meditation for health only but others will embrace the idea and perhaps even use Buddhist meditation as a way into the teaching and deeper enlightenment. Of course it is not just Buddhists that can use meditative actions to connect to a higher being . Meditation is a great accompaniment to prayer and there is no limit to the type of mantra you can repeat.

Summary: there are many answers to the question of how to practice meditation – all of them right

Meditation has many potential benefits for health and well-being and is attractive to many different people thanks to its range of styles and applications. Meditation could be as simple as trying out some breathing exercises once a day or as complex as learning Tai chi and using mantra to connect to your chosen deity. There is no wrong way to do it if feels right and helps you achieve your goals and it does not matter whether you use guided meditation classes once a week or pray once a day – the choice is up to you.

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