Meditation introduces us to ourselves on all levels. Regardless of religious beliefs, meditation can offer anyone peace of mind, calmness and a sense of well-being. It can improve our relationships, promote better physical and mental health and provide spiritual insights.
Focusing on your breath while sitting quietly can be a great start to the practice of meditation. There is much to be said about breathing. Catholic writer and monk Thomas Merton said, "I pray by breathing." In the teachings of yoga, it is considered the most important element of our body energy. We know that by breathing we are supplying our bodies with oxygen, but do we realize that the brain, which is only 2 percent of the body’s weight, sucks in over 20 percent of the oxygen it takes in?
What about the significance that proper breathing has on our energy, the positive charge to the electromagnetic force that flows through our body? Our life force or prana, as described in Yoga, can flow freely through our bodies and mind, or it can become blocked and deplete our activities. When we tense up, our breath pattern speeds up and, in turn, we are gasping more than breathing.
People often ask me what meditation practice I subscribe to, to which I respond, "My own." I feel as with any other spiritual practice, there is not a right way or a wrong way; there is only your way. You are the way to your truth. Once we learn how to focus energy, meditation can occur throughout the day no matter what we’re doing.
There are many schools of thought on how meditation should be done, but I don’t think it matters so much how you practice – just do so in a way that is comfortable to you. I believe the most beneficial element is one’s individual commitment to the practice, because fundamentally the principles are the same. The details and beliefs may differ, but it is our personal belief that helps us to incorporate it as a habit. I suggest finding a comfortable fit that is congruent with your spiritual beliefs. Find a method that you are interested in, and then seek a teacher, group or guru with whom to practice. This beginning is advantageous in laying the ground work and creating a support system.
Meditation is generally for the purpose of going within. One of the best definitions of meditation is provided by Anselmo and Kolkmeier in which they state, "Meditation is the practice of focusing and concentrating one’s attention and awareness while maintaining a passive attitude, and is a road to spiritual transformation." David Fontana, Ph.D., defines it as an "experience of the limitless nature of the mind when it ceases to be dominated by its usual mental chatter."
Although many other emotions may come up in meditation, if practiced regularly it can bring us to our primary emotion which is love. The more we experience the feeling of divine love the easier it is to create a memory of that space to return to when we’re challenged by other people. We can then respond to them by giving the energy which emanates from the higher self.
Our true nature is calmness and serenity. Meditation is the gateway to a deeper understanding of ourselves; it stills our emotions and re-introduces us to our true "self." Understand, I do not say this lightly. This practice does not come without patience and commitment. Most often it is the thing we struggle with the most that offers the biggest rewards. We are given a lifetime to practice, and with that practice we can reach advanced levels of mental strength, clarity and power to our thinking ability, to deal with life’s challenges. Any activity that allows us to lose track of time is the healthiest state we can ever be in. In this state, we know we are living our truth.