Today, millions of people meditate around the world – 18 million in the United States alone.
There must be a reason why such a sizable chunk of the global population is resorting to the calming art of meditation. Before commencing this practice, many beginners wonder: what is the goal of meditation? Is it simply to relax and calm the mind, or is there more to it than meets the eye? Delightfully, meditation has a wide array of mental and health benefits that anyone can enjoy. For instance, this practice has been proven to improve anxiety, stress and depression. It also eases the symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), improves your sleep and enhances concentration.
The Essence of Meditation
Although we may speak volumes about how to practice different meditation techniques, this wouldn’t have any meaningful impact to us if we didn’t comprehend the true goal of meditation. Here’s a question we should all ask ourselves: what do I intend to gain from this practice? Do I want to enhance my overall health and wellness, or is it simply a matter of changing my entire perception of the world and living a happier life? There’s so much we can learn from looking within. According to Trinlay Rinpoche, a revered meditator, there exist a rich gold mine within each and every one of us. Everything we seek – health, wealth, happiness and genuine well-being – stems from deep within us. Using meditation, you can tap into these abundant reservoirs and experience a tremendous difference in your life.
That is essentially the true goal of meditation: to tune our minds away from the clutter of thought that frequently occupies our mind and get in synch with our inner conscience. We develop a deeper awareness of ourselves as well as everyone (and everything) around us. However, every meditator knows that the mind is the biggest obstacle to achieving this self-awareness. It is unruly and undisciplined. It doesn’t like being guided towards a clear, disciplined path. That’s why many newbies end up getting frustrated after the first couple of sitting meditation sessions. However, the goal of meditation is to be consistent and persistent.
How Can You Cultivate Stillness?
After identifying a specific goal of meditation that you wish to pursue, it’s important to create a conducive environment for practicing your daily meditations. If you prefer being in a group, you can always join any guided meditation class around your area.
Here is a simple guide on how you can achieve the stillness required to meditate:
- Get a simple, serene place where you can meditate without any interruptions. You could choose a quiet room around the house, your bedroom for instance.
- Pick a convenient time. Choose a period when you’re not too busy, preferably early morning or later in the evening when you get home from work. Remember: the ‘busier’ you claim to be, the more time you should set aside to meditate.
- Time yourself. For starters, take 5-10 minutes to meditate. Use a timer to track your minutes when meditating.
- Get a comfortable sitting position. You can sit on a meditation mat, a cushion or even a chair. The goal of meditation is to get comfy enough to avoid pain and other distractions. Use the posture that you prefer most.
- Straighten your back. Your spine should be completely aligned with your neck and head. Picture a stack of coins and aim to maintain your back as straight as that stack.
- Concentrate on how you breathe. One goal of meditation is to concentrate on any object you desire. The breath is the most popular object. Start off by taking some deep breaths, then bring your awareness to your inbreaths and outbreaths.
- Shift your attention to the body: notice how you’re feeling at that precise moment. Feel the sensations pulsating through your body. At the same time, let go of the tensions that exist in certain muscle groups.
- When you notice your mind wandering, gently refocus it. Often, your mind will inevitably wander and deviate from meditation. You might suddenly start thinking of what you’ll have for supper or how much office work is pending. When this happens, don’t be hard on yourself. Rather, refocus your mind to your breathing.
- Don’t be rash in concluding. Since the goal of meditation is largely step-wise, avoid rising up too fast when the session is over. When the timer buzzes, gently open your eyes and be aware of your surroundings. Then slowly get on your feet and conclude everything.
An Invaluable Gift
Apart from offering a wide array of health benefits, meditation has been scientifically proven to enhance the quality of life of regular meditators. What would be your main goal of meditation? If you’d like to start meditating, there’s an assortment of resources at your disposal.