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How to get the most out of meditation

brenda Brenda Howell Tuesday, December 31st 2013.

The goal of meditation is to silence the mind. To achieve a state of stillness and peace even as outside ourselves the world continues to exist in turmoil. This inner peace is elusive to most of those who are not experienced in the art of meditation. Like anything fine, achieving a successful meditative state requires constant practice. But once there, once we have reached that place of silence, we can start seeing our thoughts and our emotions as thoughts and emotions and not necessarily as intrinsic parts of ourselves. Thus, we can judge our thoughts and emotions as objective observers who can decide whether said thoughts and emotions are beneficial or not. This heightened sense of self-awareness is hard to achieve without the practice of spiritual meditation.

Today, the benefits of meditation are widely recognized by the medical community. A 2006 study by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found that daily meditation thickens our brain?rsquo;s cerebral cortex, which is responsible for our decision-making, attention and memory. Leading businessmen, like renowned analyst Walter Zimmerman, begin and end their day with meditation sessions. Companies like Google and Hughes Aircraft offer meditation classes to their employees, because they know that meditation improves morale, alertness, good health and low stress levels.

To get the most out of your meditation sessions, it is important that you approach them with dedication. Set aside a specific time and a specific place for them, and with practice you will begin to see a profound change in the way you feel and think.

Posture

Regardless of what meditation technique you are using, it is important you keep your back straight. You do not have to be in the lotus position. A chair or a bench is fine, but do not rest your back against the backrest. Do not meditate lying down either. It will lead to sleepiness and lethargy. Remember that meditation involves relaxation, but it is also a state of heightened awareness: you mind is constantly alert, not asleep.

Keep your head straight and bent slightly forward. Keep your teeth slightly apart and your tongue pressed against your upper pallet. Keep your eyes half-open, if you can. Or if this is too distracting (the case for most beginners) close them completely. Relax your shoulders. You may place your hands on your lap. And try not to move too much. Breath not from your chest, but from your belly.

Preparing the Body

Do not eat before meditating. If you do, your body will be heavy and lethargic because it will be in the process of digesting food. If you can, shower before meditating, as it will make you feel fresh, both physically and mentally.

Place

You should meditate in a quiet place, somewhere far from the outside noise of traffic or people. Some people like to have music on when they meditate, however many practitioners advice against music, as it is good for relaxing, but it can be distracting when you are trying to achieve inner silence. Turn off your phone.

The place where you meditate should be the same every time, if possible, or at least, similar. It establishes a continuity of setting, which gets you habituated, makes it easier to meditate when you are in this place.

As with music, burning incense while meditating is optional. Some people like it. Some don't and find it distracting.

Time

Try to meditate around the same time each day. Again, continuity helps habituate you to the process of meditating. Early morning is best, as this is when your body is awakening and fresh and your mind is new and not yet tired by the day’s travails.