Contemplating and discovering the inner worlds is probably almost as old as humankind. It is about finding the inner nature of things and, thus, the unity to oneself and the environment – according to the actual meaning of ‘esotericism‘ (from ancient Greek esōterikós), ‘inwardly, belonging to the inner realm.’
And since no master falls from heaven, and indeed no meditation master, everyone can learn meditation. With a little willpower and perseverance, you will make your meditation practice routine and find balance with your inner being and your environment.
What does it mean to meditate?
The western term ‘meditation’ is derived from the Latin meditārī (meaning ‘to think about, reflect, prepare for, and reflect on sth.’). Similar practices have been developed independently in different cultures. For example, there are old European-Christian as well as Far Eastern meditation techniques.
Meditation is a state beyond thinking.
Essentially, every meditation direction is about coming to rest, throwing off the ballast, and discovering what lies beneath the ballast. In the best case, you find out there a connection to yourself and the environment and the realization that everything forms a unity. Especially rushing from one appointment to the next and the current flood of information can be such ballast.
Your first meditation exercise
Learning Meditation is quite simple; you can’t expect too much.
- Choose a place that seems suitable for you to come to rest. It should be clean and tidy, there should be no disturbing noises, it should not be too cold or too warm, and in general, there should be a pleasant atmosphere.
- Take a pillow, a blanket, a seat cushion, or only a chair and make yourself comfortable. Your legs should not fall asleep, nothing should hurt, your spine should be straight, and your head should be pointing upwards. Don’t tense up and find a relaxed position in which you can imagine staying in for several minutes.
- Set an alarm clock to 10 minutes. You can also try 5 minutes in the beginning. It does not matter. Meditation has nothing to do with compulsion or pressure to succeed. Whatever you create is useful. What you do not make is also good.
- Now breathe deeply into the abdominal area. Just observe the breath and how it flows through your body. Feel it on the wings of your nose or your lips.
- When thoughts come, just let them pass. Imagine that you are thinking of an uninteresting TV program that you don’t want to watch anyway and keep zapping. The only television program that interests you now is your breath.
Find and learn the right meditation.
As already mentioned, over time, a wide variety of meditation techniques have developed, each of which takes a different path to peace and unity. We want to briefly describe some of them to you because once you get the first idea, it is easier to choose your favorite technique afterward.
Meditations with a focus on silence, mindfulness, and insight
This branch of meditation is the one that is best known. It is all about throwing off ballast by consciously omitting the stimuli. Thoughts are let go, so the mind and the body are ‘slimmed down’ from all movements that could burden it.
Buddhist Meditation Traditions
Meditation and mindfulness practice are central to Buddhism. For example, Vipassana means “insight” into things as they are, and the corresponding meditation tries to find these in different ways. The well-known Zen meditation is also part of Buddhism and – to put it – leads to the experience of absolute silence.
Christian meditation techniques
Who would have thought it? The western Christian tradition has also practiced meditation. In the Middle Ages, for example, there were the four pillars Lectio (mindful reading), meditation (non-objective view), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (objective statement). Today, for example, one can still find the heart’s prayer, which is practically also based on a mantra and the regulation of breathing.
Hindu or Vedic tradition
We owe the different directions of yoga to this current. We know some of these directions from the yoga courses, where the body is strengthened, cleansed, and connected with the mind through various asanas (i.e., postures). Other yoga components, like Dhyana- or Jnana-Yoga, are more oriented towards mental exercise.
Active or dynamic meditation
Interestingly enough, meditation has nothing to do with sitting still. The unity with the body and the environment and the simultaneous detachment from the ‘I’ can also be achieved through moving exercises.
Take Qi Gong, for example. This practice is one of the five pillars of traditional Chinese medicine. It consists of various, mostly flowing movements that stimulate the so-called energy gates and meridians so that the body energy Qi is no longer blocked.
Laughter meditation, according to Osho.
When you wake up in the morning, stretch every single fiber of your body for about 3 or 4 minutes. Keep your eyes closed and when a few minutes have passed, start laughing. In the beginning, you might force yourself to laugh and find it absurd, but that’s precisely how it is. Laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
The first thing in the morning you should laugh, because that determines the course and mood of the whole day.
The eyes always remain closed. Lose yourself completely in laughter. Laugh at yourself, at everything that seems ridiculous in life. Make your worries and frustrations seem silly. At some point, you may reach a point where you observe yourself laughing.
After a few days, this laughter will become natural, and you can start the day with a whole new feeling.
To a good end
Meditation is much more versatile than you might think. Yet, most of the techniques have the same effect: to throw off the useless heaviness of everyday life and create clarity and unity about the essential things. It seems necessary for beginners to know that this should never have anything to do with coercion or success because this only creates new ballast. It is important for you to learn meditation to lead a successful and happy life.
However, you do it: We wish you much pleasure with your found inner center and your balance.