Is Meditation a Skill or an Exercise?

Interesting! Right?

When a person heard about meditation, some obvious questions come to mind: what is meditation? How meditate? Is meditation a skill? Is meditation an exercise? Is it a practice to turn off thoughts and feelings? blah blah..

So, in this article, I’ll answer these questions and make you intellectually clear.

Meditation is an exercise for mind to live in a present moment with total awareness and learn to observe things, thoughts, and feelings without any judgments. However, focusing the mind during meditation requires certain skills and control. 

From your side, learning meditation and handling external factors is a skill that you’ll master after putting in enough hard work. 

And from your brain’s perspective, meditation is an exercise of cultivating concentration and awareness (mindfulness). Actually, mindfulness a nature of mind over which we lost control.

But having some practice, patience, and persistence, these inner faculty will be developed in your mind. 

You can think this way, meditation is like building mind muscle that you haven’t worked out yet. It requires time, effort, and skills.

Before we go deep into this topic, let me break some common myths about meditation.

People ask, How to stop my mind during meditation? Or How to stop thoughts while meditating? These questions are most popular and often misguide the practitioners.

The simple answer of this, you can’t stop it and don’t need to stop it or not even think to control it, because when you try to do so, it becomes more fierce and difficult to direct, so the only thing you should do is just learn the art of concentration and redirect the thoughts onto an object of meditation.

For instance, you have started meditating, and one thought comes to mind. If you start fighting why it came in or it shouldn’t, you are distracted from practice and indulging in conflict.

So when you realize that you are carried away, simply regain your focus and concentrate your mind again on the meditation. No matter how many times your mind wanders away, you have to do the same.

As I said before, learning meditation requires skill and patience. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t meditate with no skill of mindfulness; skills will gradually develop through practice.

Here, I would like to mention some skills that can support your meditation practice. If you are very serious about meditation, you must try to build these faculties as much as possible. 

Required Skills for Meditation

1) Mindfulness

It’s a quality of mind to be aware of the present activity or present moment without making any judgments. It’s like an open-eye meditation where you just observe things or events attentively without reacting to them. 

Once you start becoming more aware of things and activities, you will notice that thoughts and feelings are going away, and you can able to concentrate more. It doesn’t mean you will become emotionless; rather, it enhances your ability to control them than they control you.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness, 

First and most popular technique is to be aware of your breathing, concentrate on inhalation and exhalation by sensing the touch of air at the nostril and inside the nose. Keep your breathing normal and natural no need of deep and forceful movement.

Second, you can practice mindfulness while eating. When you eat notice your jaw movement, hand motion, tongue movement, sound of chewing, etc. Bring your attention to chewing and make it longer.

Third, try to walk mindfully; when you walk, draw your attention to different body parts. Notice the movement of legs, hands, thigh, and knee one by one. Feel the sensation happening at feet and other body parts.

I think you got my point and now you can practice mindfulness anywhere at any time. It’s just about observing things with more awareness. 

Perhaps, this is the most valuable skill to learn. If you could master this, meditation will become effortless for you. 

This practice looks very simple and doable, but it may take a long time to learn. For some beginners, it could be difficult, but practice will make it easy. 

2) Avoid multitasking 

In today’s world, multitasking becomes a part of our day. Using a phone while eating, listening to songs while doing daily activities, etc. these are some common examples of multitasking, but one big problem that comes with multitasking is that “it ruins our cognition and ability to concentrate.”

Concentration is necessary in meditation without concentration, it is just an act of sitting. You must avoid multitasking where it isn’t required, this way, you will develop more concentration that eventually helps you during practice.

You may think that doing many things at a time makes job faster, it may true in some cases, but It can lower your efficiency and involvement. In most cases, multitasking is not really necessary, so you must avoid it. 

3) Stay away from negativity

Negative thoughts and feelings are energy-sucking vampires that drain your positive energy and make you sorrowful and miserable. 

So, you must avoid negative deeds such as anger, hatred, envy, resentment, etc., and involve yourself in joy, gratitude, kindness, love, and peace as much as possible. With the positive feelings in your heart, you will be able to meditate easily. 

These were 3 skills which you should cultivate to get success in meditation. If you know more skills, then let me know in the comment section, I will mention them here. 

Make yourself clear, why you want to start meditation? The reason behind asking this question is to set a goal in mind that will entice you to practice meditation regularly and form a habit. 

Let me reveal some benefits that meditation can give you from regular practice.

Meditation can help you in many ways.

According to Healthline and Mayoclinic, these are 14 scientifically proven facts that Meditation Helps to:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Control anxiety 
  3. Increase self-awareness
  4. Enhance mental well-being
  5. Lengthen the attention span
  6. May reduce age-related memory loss
  7. Generate kindness
  8. Improve sleep
  9. May help to fight addictions
  10. Control pain
  11. Can decrease blood pressure
  12. Increase patience and tolerance
  13. Increase imagination and creativity
  14. Enhance mindfulness

However, there are several different meditation techniques, and each one could give similar or different outputs, although they met somewhere at some points and provide mentioned health benefits. 

Now, you may ask what these different meditation techniques and which one should I choose?

So let me give those names, guided meditation, mantra meditation, vipassana meditation, loving-kindness meditation, object-focused meditation, Japa meditation, and mindfulness meditation; these are popular meditation practices. 

But if you are a beginner, then I suggest you start with the first or second meditation technique. 

Easy meditation techniques for beginners

Guided meditation: it’s the simplest way to start meditation journey, in which the meditation teacher instructs you directly or in the form of recorded audio or video. 

You just need to listen to those instructions and have to follow them. These guided instructions would be some kind of imagination or directing your attention to different parts of body or sensations. 

Follow these steps to practice guided meditation:

  • Sit on a floor or chair comfortably with spine erect, use a cushion if needed
  • Slowly take 5-7 deep breath 
  • Use meditation app or recorded audio or video
  • Follow those instructions vigilantly

Simple right!

Mantra meditation: It’s an ancient technique that involves constant repetition of mantra, which is a sacred phrase or word or godly name. 

You can repeat the mantra loudly or silently or recite it into your mind. The most beneficial practice is to recite the mantra in mind (according to scriptures)

Some famous mantras are Aum, Om, Hari om, Om Namah Shivaya, Hare Krishna, So Ham, Buddho, Aum mani Padme hum, etc.

Choose one mantra with which you can resonate the most and could pronounce easily. 

You don’t need you to find the meaning of the mantra. Just try which one you like most.

Follow these steps to practice mantra meditation:

  • Sit on a floor or chair comfortably with spine erect, use a cushion if needed
  • Slowly take 5-7 deep breath 
  • Set a timer of 10-15 minutes or more
  • Repeat mantra loud enough that you can hear it or recite the mantra in mind

Mantra can help to tame your mind and force it to concentrate on the sound. 

This is a simple yet powerful meditation technique that may benefit you physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

During the meditation, your mind can be distracted and wanders away. In that situation, accept the rumbling nature of mind and refocus it without being frustrated or finding reasons of occurrence. 

Learn how to meditate and persistently follows one technique. Once your skills improve through practice, you will start receiving benefits in abundance. 

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