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Getting started with Meditation 🙇

Gyanesh Mishra
November 8th, 2020 · 8 min read

Meditation has been around for centuries. Its one of the oldest practices that has been used by people to attain peace, mindfulness, relaxation, and connection to a higher power. If you live in any health obsessed city like me, you’ll notice that a lot more mindfulness/meditation camps have popped up to accompany the the hot yoga, gym, and crossfit industry.

I personally enjoy living and plan on being on this earth for a whole lot longer so I very much love to explore any fitness/health trend to see what the pros/cons are and if it’s something that falls within my values. I’ve meditated on and off since grade school but never really paid attention to the benefits it brings and never really researched. About 2 years ago, I discovered that my understanding of it was completely wrong and that there is more than one way to meditate.

What is meditation❓

Ofcourse once I knew I was wrong, I had to go look for answers! What exactly is it? How does it work? Does it even work? I always love starting from scratch and once I had the confirmation that I indeed didn’t know anything, I could only go up 📈

So after a bit of research I thought to myself that this must be how smart people on earth stay so sharp! All I have to do is meditate everyday and before I know it I’ll be exhibiting the big brain energy. Perhaps I was a few weeks away from becoming

Professor Charles Xavier and controlling/reading minds like nobody’s business. However as I researched more, I was disappointed that I can’t be Professor X 😦. But it became clear to me why this practice gets so much credit.

Meditation has been described in many ways throughout the years! Here’s a couple of my favorites:

“Meditation nourishes the mind in the same way that food nourishes the body.”

“Meditation is taking ourselves a little less seriously.”

“Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight.”

Basically it provides you with the ability to keep a level head at all times. In a world where everyone is running all the time, it helps you to slow down and take a minute. Meditation doesn’t make you a better person, a different person, or even a new person. It helps you gain more clarity about your true self and THAT in turn will help you with the rest of your life.

How does it work? ✨

“Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard this quote in different forms at various points in our life. We’re all humans, if you’re reading this and you’re not one, then ermmm… I come in peace, DM me?

For the rest of us humans, we make mistakes when we’re emotional, and we get emotional, A LOT actually! Which in turn leads to making great/poor decisions based on it. There’s also plenty of studies done about the connection of Emotion and Decision making! That isn’t the focus of this article so I’ll refrain from discussing them, but I liked these 2 while researching if you’re interested: Study 1 and Study 2.

“But we can’t just stop being emotional, Gyanesh!!!” I know! I hear you! That is definitely not the lesson here. People who meditate or appear to be calm or have been training for years aren’t machines. You don’t suddenly start controlling your emotions, you just stop letting those emotions control you. That’s it, this mantra will change your perspective, your behaviour, your actions in such a formidable way, it’s almost unreal.

When we can look at a situation for what it is instead of what we perceive it to be, we allow ourselves to understand and process it better. You will still feel, you will still get hurt, dazed, confused, etc. But you will have the toolset to stop, process, understand, and act accordingly. Daniel Goleman talks about how anger is a secondary emotion in his book Emotional Intelligence. He explains, that whenever we feel anger, underneath we’re actually either afraid, scared, or are being driven by some other primary emotion. That’s why people always say not to make a decision when you’re angry!

Practises like meditation implores you to sit down with yourself and truly understand what is going on within you without any judgments. You’re not expected to stop any thoughts from entering your head, you just sit there observing them. You try to find out if there are any patterns or the root cause if something’s truly bothering you and how you can be free of it.

I’d also like to touch on two important points before we proceed with the types of meditation:

  1. Meditation can be frustrating at times if you’re not in the right headspace or just not feeling well and that’s OK. What’s important is to remember that its called a “meditation practise” and not “meditation perfection” because we’re all out here just trying to Do our best 😄.
  2. YOU are not your thoughts. Your thoughs can/will/should change as you learn more things. Your mind and your spirit are different and you should not judge either as you continue this journey of self.

Different types of meditation. 📊

When I was first starting out, the most famous way of meditation that was popularized by the media for me was the the act of sitting in silence with no thoughts going through your head. That is far from what most of actual meditation practices are like. I loved it when Kunal Nayyar on this podcast said something along the lines of “You can’t silence your mind, it has a billion thoughts a day. Why would you want to silence your mind anyway, it’s a beautiful thing” and my mind went “You’re g-dang right it is”.

To sorta repeat what I wrote in the section above, the core of meditation is non-judgement! By not judging, we can focus on facts and circumstances and take mindful steps. I’ll also briefly touch on the word “mindfulness” as it’s generally tied together with meditation. Simply put, meditation is an excercise while mindfulness is a state of being. When you’re more mindful of your surroundings, you are able to act better on it. Checkout post on Deepak Chopra’s website that may help elaborate more on it.

As it generally happens with older traditions, meditation has been adapted by many in many ways across the world to “fit” different needs. I will write about the ones I personally practise or have closely observed.

  • Mindfulness Meditation

    This is the most famous form of meditation and excellent to start off with. You get in a comfortable position, close your eyes, take deep breaths and observe your thoughts. You don’t judge em, you don’t stop em, you don’t even try to figure out why they’re there. You simply train to understand any patterns between them and learning more about how your mind works.

  • Focused Meditation

    This one’s quite common in religious groups but also a bit hard. You focus on a singular thing and maintain focus for as long as possible. You can either count beads on your fingers, focus on a certain sound with a certain pattern, or observe your breathing. I generally just sit there and count my breathing slowly, inwards and outwards. Everytime my mind wanders or some thought takes my focus away, I restart the count and try again.

  • Movement Meditation

    Have you ever walked around the park and seen people slowly move around practising a certain set of martial art movements? They’re practising this kind of meditation. Many people argue that Movement meditation is just Mindfulness meditation with an activity and I do agree with that statement to some extent. So if you prefer that over sitting in one spot, definitely give it a try. The aim is to bring all your attention to each movement you are doing and staying in the dynamic present.

  • Mantra Meditation

    This one’s a lot more famous in the Eastern culture. You repeat a certain phrase, word, or sound over and over and bring all your attention to it. In Hinduism, people chant the word “OM” and it is believed to have major physical, mental, and spiritual significance.

  • Incremental relaxation

    By far my favorite while for when I’m having a sleepless night. You slowly start to tighten and relax different body parts starting from top to bottom and then you do the same with ALL your muscles. Not only does it slowly help relax and increase awareness of your body parts, the tensing and relaxation of entire body part is perceived to be similar to an orgasm to help you relax.

  • Visualization Meditation

    This one’s also a favorite one especially with the whole world in lockdown. You sit in one spot and slowly build up and image of where you want to be! For e.g. if you were thinking of a beach, you can start off with imagining the sand, then the water, the air, the birds, the water touching your feet and so on. Once you get a bit good at it, it’s nothing less than a mental teleportation 😍

  • Love/Gratitude/Forgiveness Meditation

    At last, the meditation I do everytime I want to feel good about life, or when I’m feeling any emotion towards someone I’d like to free myself off. The theme is simple, you sit down and imagine being in a room with someone and execute a mental conversation with them. If you love them it’s good to describe in detail what about them you love and how grateful you are about the impact they had in your life. If you’re angry at someone you can talk about your feelings and how you feel. This practise sometimes gets discouraged by people with the justification “People who have these conversations in their head, won’t be having these in person.”.

    In my experience, I have not found this to be true! Quite the opposite actually! Once I was comfortable telling people I love them more often in my mind, I began to do it real life as well. You can even do it at a smaller scale where when you wake up you attribute gratification to the earth, the air, the nature, your god and see the difference it makes in your mood 💚

I continue to explore more practises, and will update y’all as they do/don’t work for me. You can accompany any of these with external motivators such as peaceful sounds, incense sticks etc.

Recommendations and Resources. 📚

Ofcourse I didn’t get here on my own! I had lots of research and resources and amazing humans to help me through this journey. Here’s a few podcasts and books that helped me get there.

I will update this list as I read/listen more.

Final words 🙏

First of all, thank you so so much for reading it so far! I am full of gratitude and I thank you for your time and interest 🙏. If you are beginning to look into meditation or deciding to come back to it, I have all the respect and admiration for you to putting in the work to Do Better.

I hope this post has helped you and If you have any feedback or would love to get in touch, please reach out! I’d LOVE to hear about your experience with meditation and any practises you’ve followed that I missed. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for our newsletter by entering your email to get notified on new posts or follow us on social media if that’s more your speed at Instagram or Facebook.

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