a relaxation technique that has been around for thousands
of years. While it has been more formalized as a spiritual
discipline in the East, in recent years thousands of people
have been using it in the West as a method to reduce stress
levels and maintain mental focus.
Meditation is a focused contemplation and relaxation of the
mind and body that promotes inner awareness and reduces stress.
While many people do use meditation as part of their religious
practices and prayers, it can be used without any mystical
attachment as yet another tool in the arsenal against stress.
The first literature to mention meditation was the Rig Veda,
the earliest recorded literature of northern India, which
was composed around 1000 BC. It mentions the ecstasy that
is achieved through meditation, but no formal techniques.
The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, achieved enlightenment
while meditating under a bodhi tree around 500 BC. The history
of meditation may be rooted in religious and spiritual movements,
but this doesn't make a practitioner of meditation an automatic
adherent to any one of these religions
The first written evidence of formalized
meditation appeared in the fifth century
BC in the Taoist work, the Tao Teh
Ching. This text, still in wide circulation
today, emphasizes breath control and
presents meditation as a skill to be
acquired in stages. The final goal
of Taoist meditation involves "fetal
breathing", in which one breathes without inhaling or
Hinduism and Yoga
Most of the meditative techniques in practice today in Yoga
come from a highly creative period in Hinduism as a response
to Buddhism between 200 BC and AD 200-400. These techniques
and the psychology of meditation are mentioned in the Hindu
texts called the Upanishads.
The most detailed Buddhist meditation guide is the Visuddhimagga
(Path of Purification). This text is a guidebook to meditation
and includes how to prepare the surroundings for meditation,
specific meditative states, and the consequences of reaching
nirvana. Specifically, the text recommends fixing the mind
on a single object to assist with focus. The student uses
this focus to master meditation to where they reach eight
jhanas, or states of absorption. The master meditator, in
Buddhism, reaches nirvana for longer successive periods by
burning away ego and desires. This path of meditation can
allow the adherent to become an awakened being, or arahant,
who is freed from the wheel of rebirth.
The very first Christian monks of the fourth century were
hermits who lived in the Egyptian desert. They used to
meditate on top of stone pillars in the desert in order
to purify their bodies and become closer to God. They were
called the Desert Fathers, and instead of mantras they
used phrases from the Scriptures.
In the Catholic tradition, the path to God is through purification,
asceticism, prayer, and contemplation, most of which are
Judaism also features contemplative techniques in its worship,
but it has a sect who call themselves practitioners of
the Kabbalah, who practice meditative techniques specifically.
Many of their exercises are built upon those of the Eastern
Sufism is a mystic sect of Islam in which meditative techniques
are also practiced. Ritualized dhikr ceremonies, or sema,
often feature some kind of meditation.
Modern Day Western Practice
Yoga is the most widely practiced form of meditation in
North America, with many practitioners taking part in classes
and at-home exercises in order to realize the fitness and
stress reduction benefits. Yoga became popular in the sixties
through the hippie or counterculture movement's fascination
with Eastern religion and "tuning in and turning on".
"Yoga" is a Sanskrit word derived from the root "yuj",
which means to harness horses to a chariot. Through Yoga, the practitioner
is taking conscious control of their bodies in order to relax them. Yoga is
experiential and often anti-intellectual. Unlike Buddhist techniques where
one is supposed to focus on a particular object or thing, Yoga instead encourages
practitioners to relax and let go in order to relax the mind and capture the
true essence of the self.
Hatha Yoga is specifically the most popular Western form
of Yoga. In Hatha Yoga, one practices thousands of postures
known as asanas. Other forms of yoga are centred around
spiritual and intellectual focus. Mantra Yoga, for example,
is the path of sacred sound through the use of mantras,
a technique that is also frequently used in yogic meditation.
Tibetan yoga takes the practice even further as a method
to cure illness, prepare oneself for death, and recall
Physical Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is being increasingly used hand-in-hand with
Western medicine to alleviate chronic pain, reduce stress,
and for its psychological benefits. While there have not
been any conclusive studies into the efficacy of meditation,
it can be argued that it is simply not possible to quantify
the benefits of such an internal practice. Practitioners
of meditation often ascribe massive benefits to the practice,
including a healthier emotional life, ability to deal with
everyday stress, and a deeper mind/body connection.
control is a huge part of meditation
and as such meditation has been shown
to produce lasting benefits for asthmatics
or anyone else who suffers from a respiratory
illness. Western doctors are beginning
to advise patients with respiratory
issues to follow a regular course of
meditation with breath control exercises.
In essence, meditation can help those
who have trouble breathing to re-learn
how to breathe properly.
Beginners who are just getting into the practice of meditation
often find it easier to use the assistance of a teacher
or audio recordings in order to follow along to something
during the course of a meditation. Simply performing one
hour of guided meditation per week can have huge effects
on your breath control, fitness level, and general emotional
Frequently Ohmed Questions
Is Meditation a Religious or Occult Practice?
While many religions use meditation as a method of prayer,
devotion, and spiritual searching, western Meditation
practices have been developed to be entirely non-religious.
You may hear the Hindu blessing "Namaste" used
by various different Yoga instructors, but this is merely
a tip of the hat to the origins of meditation and by
no means a religious practice. Remember that the first
Christian monks, the Desert Fathers, used meditation
as part of their religious devotionals.
Will Meditation Help Me With Anger Management and/or Depression?
Experts say definitely. This reporter
for a British newspaper agrees; read her story if you are
interested in using meditation as an anger management tool.
According to her article, recent studies suggest a 48%
decrease in depressive symptoms among practitioners of
transcendental meditation™. Meditation is a drug-free
way to get a handle on your inner emotional turbulence.
Will Meditation Help Me With Stress?
If you can take just a few minutes out of your day to meditate,
you will greatly reduce your stress levels. Ten minutes
in the morning or at lunch is all you need to calm your
mind for a hectic day of work. You will find that you
have greater focus, less stress and increased productivity.
Do I Need Special Clothes to Meditate?
You don't need any special clothes or workout gear to meditate.
You can perform your guided meditations in your shower,
bathtub, or regular workday clothes using just your iPod
to help you.
Can I Meditate Without Looking Weird to My Colleagues?
You don't need to assume special postures with 1
Hour Guided Meditation, you can do it all sitting in your chair at
your desk. If you can meditate in more serene surroundings
than an office, it is recommended, but not necessary.
Do I Need to Meditate for 1 Hour?
Absolutely not. You can just do the first five, ten, or
twenty minutes of the 1
Hour Guided Meditation; whatever
you are most comfortable with.
What is the Best Time of Day to Meditate?
Most agree that early morning, before the day begins and
your mind is cluttered with obligations, is the best
time to meditate. You will realize the benefits of meditation
if you meditate at any time of day, so don't worry if
you miss a morning window. With 1 Hour Guided Meditation's
audio program, you can meditate anywhere, anytime.
What are the Physical Benefits of Meditation?
While the benefits change from person to person depending
on the frequency of meditation, benefits include reduced
blood pressure, lowered pulse rate, and increased metabolism.
Do I Need a Teacher to Meditate?
No. All you need is our 1 Hour Guided Meditation audio
recording, put together by a professional yoga instructor.
Teachers are for more advanced meditation techniques
than you would be employing as a beginner.
I Feel Soreness After Meditating; What's That All About?
Chances are good you were feeling the soreness before you
meditated. Meditation brings an increased awareness of
the body. Keep a meditation diary if you are doing it
on a regular basis and note any soreness that is repeated
in a particular spot; then bring it up with your physician
or other medical professional.
Why Guided Meditation over Meditating to Music?
If you are a beginner, guided meditation helps you to focus
your mind on the various muscle groups and areas of your
body in order to relax them. Meditating to music may
help to calm you, but you won't be making the most of
your time if you are just going it alone.
Where Can I Go for More Advanced Resources?
Meditation™ website contains a long list of resources, studies
and facts, including studies from the American Medical
Association, the American Psychological Association, and
the National Institutes of Health.
While the following describe standard meditation techniques,
all you need to meditate is an iPod and a few minutes per
day. That being said, some of the techniques listed below
will help you to focus and achieve the benefits of meditation.
Muscular and Mental Relaxation
Most Western meditation focuses on relaxing the mind and
the body. One starts off by relaxing the body, and then
moves on to relax the mind. One usually moves mentally
through each muscle group, relaxing them one at a time,
and finally returning to the mind to relax the thought
processes. This simple yet vital exercise is at the root
of the 1
Hour Guided Meditation Technique.
Physical Postures for Meditation
Yoga has given us thousands of different physical postures
for effective meditation and stretching, which are called
asanas. These are just a couple of the more popular ones.
The most famous of the asanas, this involves the adherent
placing their feet on the opposite thigh while cross
legged. The position gives physical stability while encouraging
deep breathing. This pose is the best pose for extended
meditation, and is a great pose to master while listening
Hour Guided Meditation.
This pose is a basic pose that has the adherent standing
on one foot with the other foot on the inner thigh of
the opposing leg. This pose stretches the spine, improves
balance and tones the leg.
Concentration on an Object
In Buddhism, the person meditating focuses on a particular
idea or object in order to maintain a sense of focus.
This form of meditation is more about mental focus than
it is about physical relaxation, but any form of meditation
has benefits. Some religions, such as Catholicism, use
beads as a meditative focus for prayer.
This technique requires quiet surroundings and a lack
of disruption. Focus on a simple object such as bowl of
water or the plain cover of a book. This will allow you
to empty your mind of all distractions and focus on your
This exercise is especially effective if you are trying
to break a creative logjam or come up with a solution to
a problem. Think about it by not thinking about it and
give yourself a whole new perspective.
These are sacred names and symbols used in meditation.
While they are traditionally Hindu or Buddhist terms,
deity and other names from Christianity, Judaism and
Islam are also invoked as mantras for meditation.
The most common mantra that Western practitioners are
familiar with is "Om". This is the most sacred
Hindu mantra, which represents the Supreme Reality, or
the sound from which the universe was created. Many popular
mantras incorporate this powerful word. The Krishna sect
of Hindusim is characterized by its "Hare Krishna" mantra,
which is sung loudly by its devotees.
Mantras may be used verbally, semi-verbally, or silently.
The semi-verbal mantra is one in which the vocal chords
are vibrated, but no sound is heard.
Breath Control, or Pranayama, is a method used to relax
the body through beginning and arresting the breath. "Pranayama" is
a Sanskrit word meaning to restrict the prana or breath.
There are various techniques for breath control used
throughout different meditative school, but the Hindu
one is the most used in Western meditation. Breath control
encourages complete use of the lungs; those with respiratory
problems tend to engage in "high breathing",
which doesn't allow air to reach the alveoli or deep
in the lungs.
The "Complete Breath" uses "Low Breathing" and "Middle
Breathing" in addition to "High Breathing" in
order to utilize the entirety of the lungs and diaphragm.
Once one masters breath control, one will be able to even
expand the lungs to use more than you would in traditional,
Would you fly without a pilot? If you are a beginner, don't
consider meditating without an audio recording. Our 1
Hour Guided Meditation audio recording was recorded by
an experienced yoga practitioner and will walk you through
everything you need to do.
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May also be burned to audio CD.