This term comes from the terms med and tate. ‘Med’ is a term often used for medical, medicine, and medication. From this, we can infer that the purpose of meditation is to cure. ‘I’ can be referring to the recognition of the aspect of self. This tells us that in this process, one turns towards oneself and explores different aspects of oneself. It is located in the middle of both the terms. Let’s dig into what is meditation, its benefits and how long should you meditate everyday.
Hence, the whole process of meditation has emerged from and revolves around the self and the different aspects that it has. ‘Tate’ is a term that defines poets who are well-versed and excel at writing poetry. ‘Ion’, as known in Science, is an atom or molecule which contains an electric charge. Our bodies are scientific. In fact, they are a collection of mysteries that are yet to be fully discovered by science.
Many mysteries are unknown and a few others remain without touch. In this manner, meditation will be a medical process or activity that intends to cure. It explores many of the aspects of self and reveals some of its mysteries among many. This process leaves us recharged and helps an individual in honing her skills so that she can excel in her field of choice. It especially aids humans in all forms of art, creativity, and even reasoning. It can also mean that meditation is the skill to look within oneself, especially when we need help.
The process of healing starts with and revolves around the self. This process helps one in discovering the cure that one holds within oneself. All the issues may heal by looking within, thinking about them, working on them, at least those which centrally revolve around self and its aspects. Meditation tells us that the beginning and the end or the starting point and the destination are the same. The one who follows and practices the process of meditation is known as a meditator.
It helps in maintaining a psychological and physiological balance of an individual. It sometimes can be more effective than sleep. Not always when we sleep are we able to heal. Sometimes, dreams bring in more questions and traumas from our past. There are certain postures to be followed.
Some of the methods are fluid in rules but others are restrictive and even extremely strict to be followed. From a child to an old person, meditation helps all it is not gender specific or age specific. It is not confined to a geographical location to be practiced. The monks live in mountains yet they meditate over there. It can be practiced at any time of the day unlike some yog and exercise postures.
It helps in boosting metabolism, improves the interpersonal relationship,s and is healthy for the mind, body, and spirit. Also makes one a happy individual and that attracts good relationships, more happiness and abundance in all forms because when one is calm and happy and can work to the best of her abilities, she will excel professionally as well.
It spreads a smile on the face of the individual which remains for the rest of the day. Breakfast, water, and oxygen are essential but meditation is just as essential for a human to not just exist but live a happy life. It may also curb the feeling of existentialism or existential crisis in an individual if practiced properly. It helps to:-
- Gain a fresh perspective on a tiresome, tough, trying situation
- Building stress management skills to manage your stressful situations
- Increase self-cognizance.
- Focus on the present moment.
- Focus more on positivity
- Hone skills of imagination and creation
- Be more patient
It is commonly believed that meditation brings answers but sometimes, diving so deep brings out new questions as well. These questions may be of any type- general, personal, astrological or regarding something else. The effects of meditation are not just mental but physical too and this process is connected with spirituality directly. Read the article further to find out how.
The History Of Meditation
Who started the idea and practice of meditation?
The first yogi, also known as adiyogi, Shiv started the practice of meditation to raise his vibration so that he is able to remain in his absolute power and be ready for when her ultimate partner-Adishakti-will arrive in one of her human forms after she will manifest herself so that they can unite and more creations can be made after whatever is not needed is destroyed to create space for the new creation(s) to occur.
Through meditation, he acquired extreme wisdom and the ability to carry out the tasks provided by Adishakti (nature or the personification of the universe- from whom Shiv was manifested as her exact counterpart) to him in the best manner possible. He needed meditation to acquire awareness and to remain in that state of awareness to be able to use his discernment when it was needed the most and to be able to accept and live his union with his counterpart. So, he sat with his leg crossed, both of his arms resting on his knees with the help of his hands.
He joined the first finger and the thumb of each hand in abhay mudra, with his eyes closed so that he does not receive the outer stimulus and should be able to focus on his thoughts. This is the pose of meditation or the meditative pose. He has a lean figure due to yoga and meditation, a broad head that symbolizes extreme intelligence, fair skin, an elongated neck, and black and dark brown hair. He has gained his wisdom through years of deep meditation. The sects and groups of followers were created, named, and differentiated much later. Hence, meditation and yog are connected since the beginning of time and were first recognized in India.
How Did The Idea Become Popular?
This information was later spread, orally and then in a written manner, among the people and generations through spiritual texts and Vedas. Over eras, centuries and years, as more people started to gain more knowledge from these scriptures, humans developed the habit of meditation as well.
It helped them balance all of the chakras in their bodies and reach a state of oneness- with oneself and with nature. The earliest people who did this were identified as babas or gurus and reached the state of self-actualization where, as long as they bestowed their confidence on themselves and maintained a balance in themselves, they could practice the best of their abilities, often recognized as ‘blessings’ or ‘powers’. They lost control over these powers once they lost the balance within themselves or operated from haught.
Let us take a look at how the techniques of meditation evolved and spread to other parts of the world from India over the years.
- Meditation In Japan: Dosho was a Japanese monk. It is believed that he unearthed the practice of a form of meditation, Zen, and its benefits when he visited China in 653 (7th century) and observed the practices of the Tang Dynasty which in the eighth century, became a model for the world because of its magnificent art and culture. Zen is a kind of meditation that makes an individual healthy on spiritual, physical, and mental levels. Not following your thoughts while meditating is one of the original methods to do Zazen properly, another famous Japanese technique of meditation. This form of meditation is majorly practiced by the believers of Buddhism.
Nowadays, even art is considered one of the forms to practice meditation across the globe because meditation means to focus on one goal and for the artists, whatever piece of art that they are creating, regardless of the major category of the type of art that their piece of art falls into, is their object of focus until they reach the state of satisfaction. In the process of creating art, the awareness of mind increases, mind and body are relaxed an individual is able to accept her feelings and thoughts without judgement.
Many studies have been conducted on Zen meditation. It is proved to have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. It reduces stress levels and the probability of an individual developing psychological disorders like anxiety.
- Meditation In The West:
ParamhansaYoganandadeveloped a new category of KriyaYogunder Hinduism. He carried his beliefs and propagated about the benefits of meditation to America. Meditation poses must not be so uncomfortable that an individual is unable to sit in it. As his teachings mention, following the proper posture of body during meditation prevents an individual from the risk of dozing off to sleep, calms down one’s mind and shifts her mind from matter to spirit. After this discovery, he was known as ‘the father of meditation’ in the West. He also founded ‘YogodaSatsang Society’ which is now spread across the world. He also went to Los Angeles, California, USA, and found a non-profit organisation named ‘Self–Realization Fellowship’ to spread his teachings and lessons regarding KriyaYog.
Spiritual Texts Related To Meditation And The Knowledge They Impart
Since meditation is a historical practice that has begun even before the advent of humans, as per the scriptures, there is a mention of this practice in the earliest texts ever written by humanity.
- In Buddhism, meditation is practiced as a medium to achieve liberation from the cycle of human life. There are five spiritual powers, which are also known as ‘controlling faculties’ or the ‘five priceless jewels’. These are the five qualities of heart and mind which replace the hate, delusion and greed in the human mind with unlimited understanding and love. Sometimes, they intermingle with each other. I will explain them to you in detail in my words:-
- Faith: – Also interpreted as trust in some situations, it means that an individual cannot see the circumstantial evidence or concrete cues that their wish will be granted yet they somehow hold that belief anyways. Through meditation, not only does the human mind learn to trust itself but the people around the individual and the situations that she has to deal with.
- Effort: – It basically means ‘to attempt’ or to exert mental or physical power, also to put in work as we understand it today. During meditation, minimal physical power is brought to use by the individual but she is putting in her energy and investing it while working on herself. Meditation is work, if an individual sees it in essence, but since the society that we live in associates work with putting visible and exerting effort, meditation cannot be taken as a work that the individual is doing with the help of all of the organs of her body. So, the process of meditation demands and receives the effort of the individual practicing it but it does not appear or feel so.
- Mindfulness: – According to the Oxford dictionary, being mindful means being attentive, careful and not forgetful. It means using your mind to its full capacity at any given minute. Through mindfulness, an individual is able to register all of the sensory information of her exact present moment through all of her sensory organs. At this moment, the individual does not dwell in her past or think about her future but only works on the reception of the cues without having any thoughts of her own. She only focuses on all the information that she is receiving through her observation.
- Concentration: – Meditation is called ‘dhyaan’ in Hindi. The process of ‘dhyaan’ literally translates to focus or to concentrate. The meditator has to concentrate on her breath, the source of her life and the life of all living beings, and focus on how deep her breath is or how is the depth of her breath or the process of meditation is making her feel. Therefore, the eyes must be closed to not receive any major sensory data. Contrary to the popular belief, meditation does not mean to let one’s thoughts pass by or to observe them as a third person but to process them because when meditating, the meditator will be presented with the contents stored in her unconscious and she will need to clear the unnecessary ones among them so that it does not keep trying to hinder the process of her conscious thinking when these contents keep trying to come on the surface.
- Wisdom: – ‘Wis’ means to know well. Wisdom, as in kingdom, is to know well about a large area of themes. This knowledge begins from self and then, imparts from and about everything- especially the non-physical aspects and values of human life. It also includes the knowledge that one gains from and about living the material aspects of life. One does not need to leave the material aspects in their life to gain wisdom. With wisdom comes observance.
- Observance comes from ‘ob’ which means towards and ‘serve’ whichdepends on another person who needs help. It may come from ‘obs’ which can mean obsolete or an abbreviation of obstruction. Surely, the skill to observe is rare to find. The meaning of ‘vance’ means to describe or portray in words. It also sounds similar to whence which relates to the source or ‘from where. Observance, the process people use to gain wisdom, can interpret as a rare skill or ability to provide one’s service towards or to help the other person by identifying the source of their problem, being able to describe it through words, and removing the obstruction that they are facing. Wisdom is achieved once a person undergoes and masters over all of the faculties prior to this in the process of achieving liberation. Wisdom comes from experience, which brings in a lot of knowledge. Concentration helps in gaining and retaining this knowledge. and is a quality in which the meditator practices her discernment in the best manner possible. ‘Dom’ is a title which certain monks gain. So, when a meditator becomes wise or knowledgeable and is able to help the other person through the process of observance, she has achieved the power of wisdom.
- VijñānaBhairavaTantra:- Shiv and Shakti exist in various forms as consorts. This book explores their life together as Bhairav and Bhairavi. Vijnana means science. It puts forward information about the science of meditation. This book explores 112 Tantric centeringtechniques or meditation methods. It focuses on the practice of dharanaor concentration.
Types Of Meditation
The six types of meditation practices that are popular are :-
- Mindfulness Meditation
The first and foremost and the most important thing to do, even before starting this process, is to try to leave all sorts of judgements and to receive the cues but not let the mind start working on it or following the string of cues. It means detachment from reality but it is different from detachment.
Mindfulness v Detachment
Detachment is the state of being objective. The Oxford dictionary defines objectivity or the act of being objective as being free from the personal feelings or prejudice and judging on the basis of facts. This process includes consciously thinking about the subject, following cues, and then making judgments about the subject. So, the brain is not only receiving but processing and following the cues of the situation in consideration throughout this process.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, is limited to the individual observing the cues around her and living each moment fully. It means being fully in the present at the mental level. It helps in reducing stress and improving the health of an individual through its techniques, which we will discuss in the next section.
Techniques of Mindfulness:-
- Guided Imagery Or Katathym-Imaginative Psychotherapy (KIP):- This is how meditation is also psychological in nature. It is a major part of the science of psychology, discovered in the 1950s by Professor HanscarlLeuner. Apart from healing major issues from the past, this kind of psychotherapy can be effective on all individuals who consider themselves to be emotionally healthy and happy. Here, the event becomes the presence of the client that they need to observe. It can help them in the growth and development of their personalities, enhancing the creative skills that they possess, improving their problem-solving abilities, making them even more self-dependent. It is an effective method in helping individuals gain personal insights. The therapist asks the client to sit comfortably, close her eyes and imagine a scene that the therapist will describe to the client in detail. The perception of each client differs because each individual is different, so the experiences and the way of thinking of each client affect their perception of everything. The perception also differs based on how much and for how long has any incident left an impression or affected the client. The intensity and duration of the impact differ for each individual. As in all techniques in psychotherapy, it will not suit all the clients.
- Breathing Methods:-
- 4-7-8 Breathing Techniques:-
The individual needs to exhale through her mouth. Her lips should form a small O while exhaling. Once she has exhaled as much as she can in a breath. Then, she must close her mouth and count till 4 in her mind as she inhales another breath of air with the help of her nose. Now, she needs to hold her breath for seven seconds.
After this, she must exhale all the air that she has held in her mouth for the next eight seconds. The individual needs to keep repeating this cycle to implement this technique and to get its benefits successfully. Preferably, one must follow this twice a day in four full cycles if an individual wants to see better results. Strictness is nor necessary in a meditative posture but should practice at any point of an individual’s day and while carrying out other tasks of daily life.
Benefits of this breathing technique:-
This breathing technique helps in:-
- Decreasing anxiety
- Enhancing sleep
- Managing food cravings
- Control extreme emotional responses, for example, anger
- Soothing racing heart
- Calming the nerves down
- Getting out of flight-or-fright response
- Soothing the whole body
- Pursed Lip Breathing:-
This helps in opening the airways in the lungs of a human so that she is able to breathe properly. The air, which is carbon dioxide in the lungs, is finally able to release from the passageway of the diaphragm and the air in the lungs is able to escape through this technique. By slowing down the breathing rate of an individual, it helps in bringing back the balance in the breath. Through this, it helps in reducing the number of heart palpitations that may occur, almost making them disappear. This, in turn, reduces the possibility that a panic attack may occur and helps in regulating stress levels. This process helps in reducing anxiety. You must do it 4 to 5 times in a day.
Benefits Of This Breathing Technique:-
This breathing technique helps in:-
- Prevents premature air collapse
- Prevents alveoli
- Increases positive pressure in the airways
- Supports the small bronchioles
- Prevents premature air collapse
- Diaphragmatic Breathing:- It refers to when an individual breathes deeply from the diaphragm.
Benefits of this technique:-
- Helps in reducing the episodes of PTSD
- Lowers the blood pressure and balanves its levels
- Lowers the heart rate
- Reducing the level of cortisol in the body, hence, reduces the level of stress
- Breath Focus technique:-
Benefits of this technique:-
- Helps in disengaging from distracting thoughts
- Helps in disengaging from distracting sensations
- Enhances concentration
‘Simha’ means lion and ‘asana’ means pose. Therefore, it is similar to a lion’s pose because the individual positions herself as a lion who has her eyes wide open, sitting on her front legs and all the pressure on her paws and her mouth wide open, her tongue stuck out and the individual has to make a roaring sound.
Benefits of the Lion Pose:
- Tension relieves from the face and chest.
- Blood circulation improves
- Eyes become healthy because of their healthy nerves
2. Spiritual Meditation:-
Here, folklore goes by that there is a power higher than humans but what is it is not specific, especially not conforming to any religion. It is the practice of connecting to this highest energy. The meditators seek a deeper connection with the Universe. This is because, with the help of this meditation, the individuals raise the level of vibrations that they emit. It helps individuals understand who they are.
Benefits of Spiritual Meditation:-
- Increases an individual’s self-awareness and memory
- Regulates mood.
- Slows down the process of aging by reducing stress
- Boosts immunity
- Makes an individual emotionally strong
- THE AUM TECHNIQUE:- It is a type of spiritual meditation. ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’ as it is the sound of the universe. Usually, any mantra chant number is a minimum of 108 times, as believed by most of the faiths as their standard process to follow. Since aum raises the vibration that an individual is emitting to match the frequency of the universe, when the frequencies finally match, the individuals chanting aum start feeling calm and at peace. They can also feel cold air when it comes in contact with their skins.
Benefits of the Aum technique:-
- Detoxification of the human body
- Brings emotional stability to an individual
- Strengthening the spinal cord
3.Focused Meditation or Focused-Attention Meditation:- Unlike most of the meditative techniques, this meditation does not aim at removing or not following any of the cues that the mind wants to follow. Rather, it makes it more specific. It allows and directs the mind to focus but not on all cues, rather a specific goal. Here, the specific focal point that the individual aims at while meditating is an object, a sound or a sensation.
Focused Meditation and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep
When humans and mammals in general sleep, their eye movement does not stop. Their eyes keep moving. By studying these eye movements, the professionals of psychology like therapists can read and interpret the pattern of sleeping that an individual has and how do this pattern and the other details about the client received through the process of Rapid Eye Movement affect their mental health. The individual can have vivid dreams.
Meditation, particularly, has evidently helped people fall asleep twice as early as when they sleep without meditating before going to bed. In fact, when an individual sleeps after meditating, they transfer to the state of deep sleep. Rapid Eye Movement is the last of the four stages in which an individual’s sleep cycle occurs.
4. Metta Meditation:- It is also known as Maitri meditation which means philanthropic, amiability, amity, cooperation, warmth, and showing keenness in the people around. It is one of the four sublime states of being. It’s popularly is mainly in the Buddhist tradition. It is loving-kindness meditation. It inculcates the value of forgiveness that the individual first practices towards oneself, then his kin and friends and then, towards the society and the rest of humanity.
In this, one has to sit in a place and take deep breaths. When exhaling each breath, they should do it slowly. Deep, long breaths must be exhaled in a complete manner. It is practice saying positive affirmations to oneself like “May I Be Stress-free”. Now, this is the mettaof the individual. The individual may now direct it firstly towards oneself and then, towards the other people around her like her friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, employees, or even strangers.
After that, the individual needs to visualize someone that they feel neither positive nor negative but neutral towards. Now, the individual needs to visualize the one who she doesn’t like, who are making their lives miserable. Now, the individual needs to send love to them. It is important to make this individual feel empowered over the ones who did something wrong to them, inculcates forgiveness and a positive resolution of the trouble that they may be facing towards the feelings and emotions that they have towards these people and helps them release the hard feelings so that they can live their life feeling lighter at the emotional level.
Benefits of Metta Meditation:-
- Fosters kindness in an individual
- Love in an individual
- Compassion in an individual
- Reduces stress
- Reduces physical pain
- Increases positive emotions
- Decreases negative emotions
- Increases feelings of social connection makes an individual social and the individual is able to live as a social being
- Decreases migraines
- Is significantly effective in decreasing the traumatic episodes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Helps fight addiction or obsession
- Helps control or regulate the pain that an individual is feeling
Health- What Is It?
The Oxford Dictionary describes health as the sound condition of an individual’s body or a sound state of mind. So, if we see, as a whole, health relates to the proper functioning of all the organs of the body of a human and the psyche of a human mind.
There are seven aspects of personal health:-
- Physical:- There are five elements of physical health and wellness:-
- Cardiovascular and muscular endurance
- Muscular strength
- Body composition
- Emotional:- It encompasses:-
- Ability to share one’s feelings with others
- Social:- Here, the expectations that the society has from an individual to take care of by her and they have to keep up with their roles as social beings when they are interacting with the world. This includes:-
- Having good communication skills
- Developing intimacy with others
- Creating a network of support that includes friends and whoever the individual considers to be her family. It may also include other people who do not fall into this category but provide support to the individual.
- Spiritual:- It balances the physical, social and psychological aspects of an individual’s life. It includes:-
- Transcendence or a non-physical experience. It is an experience that is difficult to understand or explain based on the facts of physical reality.
- Purposeful Life:- Many people have sought meditation or are advised to meditate when they feel like they have no purpose in their lives. Meditation is one of the ways through which a person may realize their purpose in life.
- Actualization of the dimensions and capacities of human beings:- Human beings have four dimensions– body, heart, mind, and spirit. Only the proper integration of all can make the individuals reach their highest potential. Therefore, to reach the best of their potential, individuals need to work with all these dimensions.
- Intellectual:- This is the well-being of the brain and its ability to discern and use its judgment. It includes:-
- Seeking out new opportunities
- Responding to challenges in a positive manner
- Expanding knowledge
- Expanding skills
- Accepting new ideas and thinking upon them in a positive manner
Career:- There are many situations, evaluating which an individual can decide if a career is healthy for her or not. They are:-
Attracting more popularity
Benefits her monetarily
Makes her happy
Makes her satisfied
Does not make her worried
Does not feel like a burden most of the time or all the time
Not denying her basic rights as an individual, for example, respect
Does not demand more than her capacity
Gives her a zeal in life
Comes naturally to her
Even if she has to struggle, the result, in the end, is mostly positive and worthwhile
- Environmental:- This aspect focuses on how an individual can take care of nature. It focuses on the interdependent relationship between nature and the environment and the human and how one affects the other. When an individual meditates, firstly her vibration rises. Followed by it, the vibration of the place rises. This is because everything, in essence, is energy. When the individual vibrates at a higher frequency, this higher frequency helps the environment and its elements to not just heal but carry out its processes in a happier and healthier way through its positive energy. This is the way in which meditation makes the individual healthier and also cleanses the environment around her.
How Is Meditation Healthy?
Benefits And Positive Impacts Of Meditation On Health
- A few techniques of meditation help the individuals heal. However, meditation is not for everyone, especially not at a basic level, and can bring flashbacks of traumatic memories of the past. If the individual falters in the process, the calming effects of the meditative process may actually backfire and turn dangerous for the individual. Therefore, it is necessary that if one has some major traumas to heal, one should execute meditative practice under the guidance of a psychological professional, preferably a therapist so that in case a triggering cue may occur, the client does not feel helpless and clueless on how to deal with it or indulge in any kind of self-harm.
- If an individual is able to heal from meditation, there will be an increase in their compassion and positive attitude towards themselves and others. Hence, an individual who meditates is not only healthy for oneself but also for the others around her.
The different techniques of meditation bring with them their own benefits. However, not all of them are suitable to practice on a daily basis because they require a significant amount of time to able to benefit from their effective and rapid results and each individual does not has as much time to spend on them due to being extremely busy schedule.
One must try to meditate as often as they can, if it suits them, for a healthy and positive life.
How Long Should You Meditate Everyday?
In today’s society, the question: how often should you meditate per day and for how long, is a prevalent one. Some people believe that an hour a day is appropriate, others say it doesn’t matter as long as you make time for meditation, and some say it doesn’t need to be formal meditation by sitting still or hours on end. Find what works for you and go with that.
How often should you meditate per day?
This is subjective, and depends on a variety of factors, such as your schedule, your lifestyle, your goals, and the type of meditation you’re doing.
Some people advocate for a daily meditation, others are fine with a weekly or monthly meditation. Some people meditate every day and never miss a day, and others get busy and forget for a week or two.
It’s hard to give a hard and fast answer to this one, but I can tell you what works for me. I meditate once every couple of days. On those days, I try to do it before I go to bed. Usually, that means about an hour or more after I go to bed. When I do that, I will get up in the middle of the night, go to my shrine, and meditate for a few minutes. That usually helps me sleep.
On days I don’t get up and meditate, I usually don’t notice any difference. But, it is certainly not a matter of “if you do, you’ll get better.” It’s more a matter of the time of day that you meditate.
How Long Should You Meditate Try to Meditate For Each Day?
That’s going to be different for everybody. It’s a question of how much you need to focus in order to be able to do effective thinking and meditation. So, maybe one day you need to meditate for a couple of hours. Another day you may only need 15 minutes. And another day you may need 20 minutes. There’s no set timeframe. It’s a question of how much you can focus on meditation. And for many people, that will be 10-20 minutes. It’s also going to be different for each person. Some people can meditate for half an hour without needing to focus on their breathing or their thoughts. Other people may need an hour or even more.
Is 20 Minutes of Meditation Enough?
The short answer is no!
In most cases, 20 minutes is not nearly enough to create the long-term changes that you want to achieve.
If you want to see real and lasting change, you will need to meditate for at least 3 hours every day. If you have no idea of how to meditate, here are some tips:
Start with just 5 minutes of meditation every day, and build up from there.
For each meditation session, you should be concentrating on your breathing, and on your thoughts or feelings. It’s best if you can do meditation in the morning, just after waking up, or in the late afternoon.
If you don’t know how to meditate, it may be easier if you start with a guided meditation. You can find them on YouTube, and many have a guided meditation for beginners.
Most meditation sessions last 20-30 minutes, but if you are finding it hard to concentrate, then break your meditation into 5 or 10 minute sessions.
In conclusion, meditation is beneficial for people of all ages and abilities. So, how long should you meditate everyday? If you want to be happy, healthy, and productive- try meditating every day.
Meditation can be a powerful way to de-stress and stay in touch with your body and mind. On the other hand, some worry that meditation is difficult or time-consuming. If you’re new, start with 10 minutes a day. Surprisingly, it quickly becomes second nature!