Meditation is very simple but finding complete peace and acceptance in silent practice can be a great challenge for many people. We have created cultures of living that do not allow for self reflection and moments of peace and we all need time and space to unwind our minds in order to remain happy and healthy.
Meditation is a state of complete peace and oneness. In order to move towards this state we use techniques such as mindfulness, the breath, mantra, mudra and visualisation. These techniques are often very simple and aim to create a way of working through the barriers that we may have to finding complete peace and well-being in our meditative practice. Mindfulness is focusing one's awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It can be practiced any time of day and there is plenty of research to support it's positive effects.
Meditation and mindfulness is suitable for anyone but needs to be tailored to suit age and emotional/mental well-being. Young children are to practice fun and more lively visualisation with more active involvement and even physical movements. As we progress into the teen age group breathing techniques are introduced and personal practice is encouraged. Adults are able to engage in a full range of approaches and will hopefully be more disciplined to deepen and further their own practice.
People suffering from stress, anxiety and any emotional imbalance will potentially find (with dedicated practice) that meditation and mindfulness can reduce these symptoms and create a more balanced self. Key areas this kind of practice can help with is exam stress in teens and work/family challenges for adults.
Results will vary from person to person and mindfulness is very much a practice of self discovery. It is not something that is directly taught but more facilitated, with the best results achieved from a personal interest and desire to reach a greater state of peace.
With persistence mindfulness and meditation can potentially influence the following:
Increased relaxation and feelings of being at peace with yourself and the world
Improved focus and concentration
Better understanding of your emotions and anger management
Increased self awareness
Reduced anxiety and stress levels
Increased compassion for yourself and others
Dealing with outer and inner-conflict
With openness and acceptance mindfulness and meditation can complement other religions and belief systems. It is however not recommended if you have any severe emotional or mental heath issues (in this case you must seek the advice of your doctor or related health care professional first).
Meditation is often best practiced in the morning when the mind is rested from sleep and provides an excellent way to focus and calm the mind before beginning your day. Evenings are also an excellent time to practice and will allow the mind to unwind and process the day. It is always better to find a safe, warm, quiet and comforting space to practice meditation although it should be understood that it is not about escaping the world. Meditation is more about finding peace with your surroundings whatever they are and being able to focus even when there are distracting sounds around you.
Mindfulness can be practiced any time of day as it is a technique of conscious awareness. For example, imagine whilst out walking you practice a greater connection to your breath, the steps you take, the sounds you hear, scents you smell and things you see. Your natural senses are engaged much more deeply and you aim to achieve a greater connection to the immediate/present moment. People often find that they become more aware of habitual patterns and the things we do without thinking and through this become much more focused, calm and productive.