Meditate and rid yourself of stress

  • One of the best ways of coping with stress, improving your immune system, living a happier more successful life is through meditation.

There are different families of meditation. They all have similar physiological and psychological effects.

Most meditations are best done while sitting (on a mat or chair) with back straight so there is very little effort in the posture and yet you remain awake. It is possible to meditate lying down and some types of meditation like yoga nidra ask you to lie down. The drawback of meditating while lying down is that you may well go to sleep.

Today I want to write about different types of object meditation.

The concept of object meditation is simple.

One concentrates on an object (say light of a candle). One’s thoughts move away from the object that one is concentration on. One notices that. Without any blame one goes back to the object one was concentrating on.

Here are some types of object meditation:

Mantra Meditation:

Mantra is a short phrase or word which is repeated over and over again becoming the object of concentration.

Thus once you chose your mantra you sit with your back straight in an easy effortless posture and close your eyes. You start repeating the mantra. Soon you may notice that you are no longer repeating the mantra. You may notice you are thinking. At other times you may notice a part of your body is itching. At times I end up dreaming. I have noticed a conversation between two people neither of which is me.

Anyway, once you are aware that you are no longer repeating the mantra. Just note that without any blame or beating yourself and go back to repeating the mantra.

How to chose a mantra:

Some people believe that you have to be initiated by a guru or a master and receive your own individual mantra. Modern research has shown that the beneficial health effects of all mantras appear the same.
I learned from one of my mentors that it is best to select a word or phrase from your own spiritual or cultural background.
Thus Catholics may use “Hail Mary,” “Our Father” or something similar. At the other end of the spectrum seculars (or nones) may select mantras like “Peace,” “Love,” “one.”
One of my own favorite mantras is “I don’t know.” I learned it from an audiobook by Ram Dass.


Breath Meditation:

This is based on Zazen (sitting meditation) of Zen Bhudism. Sit with your back straight and close your eyes and start counting your breath. So on the inbreath you say one and on the outbreath you say two. You continue in the same way until you reach ten and then return back to one. Each inhalation will have an odd number and  the exhalation will have an even number.

Eventually you notice that you are not concentrating on your breath. The following are some possibilities:

  • You count higher than ten.
  • Thoughts intrude.
  • You lose count – that is to say you notice an odd number while breathing out or even while breathing in.

Whatever happen you note it and on next inhation go back to one.


Candle Meditation:

In this case you light a candle in a safe way (so you will not start a fire if it falls down) and you concentrate on it. You may blink or even close your eyes at time. If you notice that you are thinking, looking away, eyes closed for a long time just take note of that and go back to the candle.

I don’t practice this often so cannot comment on it very much.

Mirror Meditation:

This is a difficult and powerful meditation. Sit in a semi-dark room in front of a mirror and stare at you reflection.

At times all sorts of things may happen. Chances are you may get uncomfortable and self conscious.

No matter what happens continue to stare at your image for the allotted time.

I just practiced this for five minutes. As I mentioned it is a difficult meditation. I nearly went to sleep twice. I saw my head as a skull and often I felt tired sleepy and uncomfortable.

Expand Awareness Meditation:

I actually discovered (remembered this one) while doing the mirror meditation. Sit as usual. Keep your eyes softly open and gaze at whatever you see with expanded peripheral vision. One way to do that is to stare to a point about 45 degrees above you. Now, allow your vision to become peripheral. Next allow you hearing to do the same. You may notice you hear sounds near and far. Just listen and look with no judgement. At its best you can have an expanded awareness with no commentry (inner thoughts).

You can practice this as a walking meditation as well.

I just did that. I was aware of sounds and sites I’m not normally conscious of. The expansion really does work. While doing it and walking I kept dropping out of peripheral vision and hearing. I would do the same as in all other meditations. Note that I had droped out and go back to this time to not concentrating on anything.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic there were fewer car noises and much more happy birds singing.

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