Meditation: 5 basic rules
In a world constantly on the move, meditation offers a soothing escape to inner tranquility. Whether you're a novice or an experienced practitioner, knowing the basic rules of meditation is essential to cultivating an effective practice.
This article will guide you through the fundamentals of meditation, helping you to create a serene space where you can reconnect with yourself. Discover how these simple rules can transform your meditative experience and enrich your mental and emotional well-being.
Meditation is an age-old practice, highly developed in certain continents such as India and Asia.
It has gradually evolved from a spiritual practice to a veritable "technique" as it made its appearance in Europe. More and more people are practising and using it for the many physical and psychological benefits it is capable of bringing.
But with this article I'd like to take you a step further, because true meditation goes far beyond the physical and psychological aspects we talk about here and there.
Meditation is not a hobby, one more activity in our lives that allows us to relax from time to time, only to fall back into the frantic rhythm of our daily lives without really transforming them.
True meditation is a new orientation in life, a choice, an art of living, a breathing of the soul that enables us to take back the rudder of our life and steer it in an upward direction, in harmony with the deepest aspirations of our true being. Meditation is an open door, a path to awakening, a communion with the depths of the self, a journey into the unknown, an opening of the heart, a living experience of transformation. It gradually takes root within us as a new breath, a new rhythm of life, a new way of looking at things, another path in communion with higher consciousness.
To engage in the practice of meditation is to choose to intensify our inner, subtle life so that it becomes a new basis of perception, a new guide, our force of inspiration, the new master within us. Meditation is something natural and simple; it's the movement of turning our awareness and sensitivity inwards, the door that opens the direct perception of another world within us.
The different meditation techniques
There are many different meditation techniques, each with its own objectives and approach. Here's an overview of some of the most common meditation techniques:
1. Mindfulness meditation: This technique involves paying conscious attention to the present moment, observing your bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts without judgment.
2. Transcendental meditation: Involves the silent repetition of a mantra (a word or phrase) to achieve a state of transcendental awareness and tranquility.
3. Guided meditation: A guide or audio recording leads you through a visualization or series of thoughts to facilitate relaxation and concentration.
4. Visualization meditation: You create positive mental images to calm the mind and stimulate creativity.
5. Breathing meditation: You concentrate on your breathing, observing its natural rhythm to calm the mind.
6. Loving-kindness meditation: You cultivate feelings of kindness towards yourself and others by repeating phrases of love and compassion.
7. Walking meditation: You practice mindfulness by walking slowly, paying attention to each step and to your sensations.
8. Chakra meditation: Focus on the body's energy centers (chakras) to balance and revitalize your energy system.
9. Zen meditation (Zazen): (za)zen meditation is a Japanese Zen spiritual practice born of the fusion of Buddhism and Taoism. It involves sitting in silence, observing breathing and passing thoughts without reacting to them.
10. Vipassana meditation: You carefully observe physical and mental sensations to develop a deep understanding of reality.
11. Group meditation: Practicing meditation with others can reinforce discipline and create a supportive atmosphere.
12. Silent meditation: You sit in silence, allowing thoughts to calm naturally and connecting with your inner essence.
Each technique and type of meditation has its advantages and meets different needs. You can experiment with different methods to find the one that suits you best at any given moment in your life. The key is to practice regularly and with positive intention and positive feelings.
What are the benefits and effects of meditation?
Meditation offers a multitude of scientifically-proven benefits for mental, emotional and physical health. Here are just a few of the virtues most commonly associated with the practice of meditation, even for just a few minutes a day:
1. Stress reduction: Meditation helps to calm the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety levels, as well as brain activity (you pause your brain and it feels good!).
2. Improved concentration: Meditation improves your ability to focus and concentrate, which can translate into greater productivity in daily tasks.
3. Managing emotions: By observing emotions without judgment, meditation can help you better understand and manage emotional reactions.
4. Increased self-awareness: Meditation encourages deep introspection, leading to greater self-knowledge.
5. Enhanced resilience: Regular meditation practice can increase emotional resilience, enabling us to cope more effectively with life's challenges.
6. Improved sleep quality: Meditation promotes relaxation, which can contribute to deeper, more restful sleep.
7. Reduced blood pressure: Some forms of meditation have been associated with a reduction in blood pressure, thus contributing to cardiovascular health.
8. Boosting the immune system: Meditation can stimulate the immune system, helping the body to better resist disease.
9. Reduces chronic pain: Mindfulness meditation can help manage chronic pain by altering the perception of pain.
10. Promotes emotional well-being: Meditation encourages a positive attitude and a general sense of well-being and inner peace.
11. Improved time management: Better stress management and concentration as a result of meditation can help make more effective use of time.
12. Spiritual growth: For some people, meditation can contribute to a deeper connection with their inner self and to spiritual exploration.
It's important to note that the benefits of meditation can vary from person to person. The key is regular practice and patience. By integrating meditation into your daily routine, you can begin to feel these positive effects in your life.
However, people suffering from psychiatric disorders are advised to seek advice from their doctor on the most suitable meditation for them.
Practicing meditation: a look back at my 1st experience
I still remember it like it was yesterday! And I'd like to share it with you, because I think I've accumulated all the things you really need to avoid to meditate well.
It was in 2008.
The atmosphere was sacred. The silence was palpable in the group.
At the time, I had a zafu that I'd never really used, except for a few minutes.
And so the work began... and I soon began to feel a terrible ache in my legs. A word of advice: if you're not flexible, stay away from the meditation cushion!
And when you're concentrating on these problems, I can tell you that in meditation, you're not there at all! You start fidgeting to find the right posture, your thoughts scatter, you create noise and confusion around you.
In the following sessions, I tried other ways of posing my body.... Sitting on my knees.... Never again !!!! Sitting against a wall.... I think that's the best way to doze off!
And then I try out the meditation bench. THE revelation! Finally, the tool that suits me perfectly.
Once I'd found the right posture, the work was finally about to begin..
Learning to meditate or the art of meditation for beginners
Rule 1: to begin meditation, find the right posture
As you've already guessed, meditation doesn't have to be torture or gymnastics. The best posture is the one that suits you, the one in which you feel most comfortable.
However, there are a few rules to follow.
Which position for meditation?
A basic criterion is that you should be seated, in the lotus position for example, as this posture allows you to be alert and awake.
It's also important that the sacrum and coccyx, which carry the memory of who you are, are in contact with Mother Earth.
The spine needs to be straight, but without strain or tension. When the posture is right, the back is naturally straight, without effort. A straight back brings dignity, promotes awakening and connects you to the energy of the sun.
If you're sitting on a chair, you'll need to position yourself on the edge to find the right balance, so that your back goes straight effortlessly (otherwise, beware of dozing off!)
If you're sitting on the floor, you'll need to elevate your body slightly, so that your back goes straight naturally. Place yourself on a meditation mat if necessary, in the lotus position for example.
The lotus position is a posture commonly used in meditation, but it may not be suitable for everyone due to its demand for flexibility and joint comfort.
The secret of the right posture lies not in the posture itself, but rather in inner attitude and awareness. It's important to sit on the ground with gentleness, love, respect and awareness.
The more your consciousness is awakened, the more you'll find the right posture.
Find the right posture that will allow you to enter deeply into the experience of meditation. Your meditation will become real, alive, intense and effective.
Rule 2: Breathe to meditate
Meditation requires silence and calm in the mind. Before you begin, take a few minutes of deep breathing to bring peace to your mind. Breathing is also a good support throughout meditation.
Breathing in by filling the body with air from the belly to the collarbones, and breathing out by emptying the body from the collarbones to the belly, is effective. But if you're not comfortable, you can adopt abdominal breathing, which consists of inflating only the belly on inhalation and retracting it on exhalation (without exerting yourself).
Concentrating on breathing is also an excellent exercise for calming the mind.
Rule 3: achieve stillness and emptiness
When you think of immobility, what comes to mind first?
Body immobility, of course! But you'll see that it's not quite as simple as that!
Putting your body down, placing it in immobility, are the keys to meditation, but the simple fact of wanting to do so is enough to bring out in us all the things that want to move.
Remaining in immobility is difficult; it requires training, and we're not trained.
If you manage to keep your body perfectly still for 20 minutes, in an upright posture, placing whatever is coming towards you on the ground - in other words, all the tensions in your body, all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the moods, all the forces inside you that are disturbing you - everything will become clear to you, and your body will disappear.
Enter into a state of external immobility by observing yourself.
And now, try to find inner stillness. Become an observer of what's going on inside you.
Observe the thoughts that run through you. Sometimes it's chaos inside. The problem with our contemporary lives is that we don't take the time to sit still at all, and we never stop to observe our own inner state.
Even if you see bad thoughts, don't dismiss them, don't judge them.
As you stand still on the ground, direct your attention inward, to the center.
Remain centered and be observant of what you perceive: a sound, a noise outside, an emotion, a state of mind... whatever manifests itself, do the exercise of remaining in your center, maintaining stillness.
By not allowing yourself to be off-center, by not moving outwardly or inwardly, you'll reinforce this state of inner stillness more and more.
My advice: Imagine you're a lake. Anything that comes towards you - thoughts, feelings, anything that doesn't conform to harmony - put it on the bottom of the lake. And let the silt fall away on its own, so that the water in your lake is clear and pure.
Rule 4: use mantras to meditate
A mantra is a set of sacred words or formulas with spiritual meaning and power. This combination of words is invested with the power to protect, purify and transform the one who repeats them, and can be initiatory and secret. The repetition serves as an auditory support for the vibratory transmission of the idea or symbol through the word.
The best-known mantra is certainly Om, or Aum. For the Hindus, it is the primordial sound that corresponds to the first creation of the universe (sound before matter), which contains within itself all the vibration of the universe and whose repetition puts us in harmony with universal consciousness. The most frequently used sound, Om (Aum) is the root mantra from which all other mantras derive.
- The letter "A" stands for Brahman, the creator god. It represents the earthly world, creation, the beginning, birth.
- The letter "U" represents Vishnu, the protecting god. This is the intermediate world, the dream, continuation, life.
- The letter "M" represents Shiva, the destroyer. This is centrifugal force, sleep, the end, death. "M" is the state of deep sleep, the celestial world.
Chanting A-U-M harmonizes the psyche and relaxes the whole body, gradually restoring calm. The repetition of the Om mantra occupies the entire field of consciousness, leaving little room for the formulation of parasitic phrases: concentration is improved, the state of consciousness refined, thanks to better control of the mind.
Rule 5: use a visual aid to meditate
The mandala, or sacred geometry symbols in general, can be used as a visual support for meditation to avoid distractions. But a photo that makes sense to you, a statue, a stone... can also take the place of the mandala to guide you in your meditation. You focus your attention exclusively on this object, observing its lines and materials, and associating the ideas it suggests to you.
The simplest and most accessible way to focus your attention is to observe without judgment.
When you stand before your mandala, your symbol, look at it with your childlike eyes, without putting any concept on what it represents or on the virtue it carries.
Tell it, or think inwardly, that you wish to make contact with it, to forge a bond, to understand how to approach it. Ask it to accompany you throughout your day.
Fill the center of your chest with his light and gentle atmosphere.
During the day, mentally visualize your mandala. If you have the opportunity (depending on the medium you've chosen - the harmonizing disc is ideal for this), take it with you wherever you go and look at it as often as you need to throughout the day.
And finally, before going to bed at night, look at it again, let its beautiful energy fill your whole being and ask your mandala to accompany you as you sleep. If you wish, you can light a candle and enter into meditation to consciously connect with your mandala.
And if you're a yoga teacher, therapist or simply looking for a Mandala for meditation or a Flower of Life for meditation, you've come to the right place! For this, we recommend a printed canvas that you can hang on the wall. The larger the sacred geometry symbols are printed, the more powerfully they radiate.
And if you're on the move, prefer smaller supports, such as harmonizing discs, on which you can easily concentrate.
When you meditate, what do you think about?
When you meditate, the aim is not necessarily to think about something specific, but rather to cultivate present awareness and detached observation of your thoughts. This depends on the type of meditation you practice and your intention.
The general aim of meditation is to train your mind to stay present, to be aware of your thoughts without becoming attached to them, and to cultivate greater mental and emotional clarity. However, it is normal for thoughts to arise during meditation. If this happens, simply observe these thoughts without judging yourself, then gently bring your attention back to your point of focus (breathing, mantra, etc.). Let the meditation evolve according to your personal practice and needs.
Meditation is suitable for everyone, including young children. You can do simple meditation exercises with them, even for just a few minutes.
More than just a practice that you can integrate into your life, meditation can be not only a tool for reconnecting with our inner being, finding calm, serenity, the right inspiration and guidance, but it can also become an entirely new way of living.
There are different degrees of interiorization. Meditation can be more or less profound, bringing us to different states of inner awakening and awareness, and truly enlightening and transforming our lives.
But beyond the practice itself, which may only take a brief moment, meditation can be seen in a broader dimension, and integrated permanently into our lives as an art of vigilance, concentration and inner mastery.
Mastering wakefulness, uprightness, the right posture, silence, calm, clarity and serenity can be achieved through regular meditation practice. But beyond these time-limited experiences, we can develop these virtues on a daily basis, gradually giving them a greater place in our lives.
"Quelques règles pour la méditation" (Essenia Ed.)
Ooreka for the "benefits of meditation" section