Meditation & Learning to Pause
People are often confused by the concept of meditation because it tends to be inextricably linked to the content being meditated upon. It’s important to understand that meditation is nothing more than a technique. It’s a tool that we can use to help in a wide variety of tasks, including attaining mindfulness, reducing stress or pain, and practicing spirituality. Meditation itself is not necessarily related to any of these goals, other than the fact that it can help us achieve them.
What is Meditation?
To meditate is to use focused effort to calm the body and mind. Every moment of our lives, we are exposed to a plethora of information that is generated from within ourselves. A train of thoughts and sensations constantly plows through our heads, most of which is not important to whatever we happen to be doing at the time. This background noise can be extremely troublesome, distracting us from our lives and potentially becoming a source of negative emotions. Meditation helps us to pause the chaos and allows us to focus primarily on what is important at the time.
How to Meditate
The concept being meditated upon can sometimes require or recommend a specific form of meditation, but we can find similarities among most meditation techniques. The first step in meditation is to achieve a calming of the body so that it doesn’t interfere with the mind. This is usually practiced by sitting in a comfortable position, closing one’s eyes, and concentrating on relaxing the entire body, piece by piece.
When the body is relaxed, we can move on to the mental tasks required by our content. For example, mindfulness practitioners would concentrate on things related to the present moment, like their own heartbeat or sensations on their skin. Alternatively, someone meditating to reduce pain may focus on a visualization of switches and dials that they can manipulate to essentially “turn down” the pain signal. Meditation is a valuable tool that can assist in many tasks by teaching us to pause our lives for a moment so that we can focus on what matters.