What is meditation?

According to ancient teachings, meditation is a method of changing our minds from within. Simply put, meditation is a way of quieting one’s thoughts.

Where does meditation come from?

Meditation originated thousands of years ago, long before Buddha – yet his teachings have influenced its widespread practice in Eastern culture. Meditation was first introduced to the West in the late 20th Century.

Why do people meditate?

People meditate to free the mind, to find peace within, and to obtain a deeper understanding of their existence. People also meditate to develop compassion and harmony within all existence, using meditation as a gateway outside of the self.

How do I begin meditation?

Meditation is a practice with no right or wrong methods. However, the most basic forms of meditation begin with sitting calmly for an extended amount of time, closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and reciting intentions, mantras or prayers to establish focus in your thoughts.

What should I focus on?

Once you’re seated and breathing comfortably, you could attempt an inside-out approach – allow your thoughts to dwell on the physical sensations you feel, then drift to the compassion and happiness you wish for your life, then to the love you might wish for others in your life, and at last for others throughout the world. (This last part is called Loving-Kindness Meditation, or LKM).

My mind is racing all over the place, is this normal?

Many beginners experience feelings of “racing mind” when they first meditate – this may be a natural result of modern life, with many of us never having time to really stop and think! When this happens use your breathing as an anchor – and slow the body down before attempting to slow down the mind again.

What meditation tools do I need?

The only thing you really need is commitment. However physical aides are available to ease and enhance your practice. Meditation is an old tradition with rituals and many tools. Japa malas (rosary beads), are perhaps the most common meditation tool, used to count mantras. Meditation singing bowls, incense, cushions, and other items can be also help you but are never required – your practice is more important than the tools you use!

How can meditation affect my life?

With time, meditation creates greater mental awareness and thus makes pathways for change in our lives outside of our practice. Essentially, meditation helps reduce unnecessary thoughts so we can focus on what really matters on our journey.

How can meditation help others in my life?

Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh describes meditation as a path of both seeing and action – the journey within enlightens the mind, and this greater understanding enables increased compassion and understanding with all people we encounter.

What are some other reasons I should meditate?

Many report feeling more relaxed, more peaceful and more natural after meditating regularly for some time. Meditation is also associated with lowered blood pressure, improved immune system, and better balance, energy and emotional wellness.