Self Improvement Meditation
'self improvement meditation'
This is quite likely the keyword combination you punched into a search engine to get here.
If it is, or if you in-putted a similar keyword or keyword combination with the intention of reading an article that discusses how to use your own body and mind to IMPROVE your own body and mind, then stick around, because I suspect you'll enjoy the ride! Before getting to that, however, here's a brief preview of the route you'll be taking...
1 - What Meditation Is
2 - Why You Would Want To Meditate
3 - How I Believe Meditation Works
4 - Why I Believe Mediation Works
5 - How I Meditate
6 - A Thought I Almost Always Meditate On
7 - Some Other Ways Of Meditating
8 - The Most Important Aspect About Meditation
What Meditation Is
I can’t remember when I started meditating, or why I started meditating, but it’s a technique I have, for years, found invaluable in my life.
I have never meditated from 'a recipe' though, or from what another person has told me; I’ve gone purely with what makes sense and feels right, so I could actually be doing it partially, mostly, or totally wrong. That said, I have read books that have discussed meditation, but they have never taught me anything of value that I didn’t already puzzle out by myself beforehand through reason alone.
My meditations are in no sense attached to any religious or spiritual beliefs; they are, SIMPLY, logical ways of bettering oneself with one’s own built-in tools.
For me, meditation is a science of the body and mind (both the conscious and unconscious mind) and I use the word ‘science’ in the sense that I never believe I know everything on the topic of meditation, and, through the process of elimination, I have often improved upon a meditation technique through trial and error and with time; and other techniques I have merely thrown away for they yielded little or no obvious betterment. Some might have wished me to put the word ‘spirit’ somewhere into the previous sentence, but I’m personally unsure about such things, for I have never had a spiritual experience, so will leave such matters to those people who say they have.
People meditate all the time in life; I just believe it is far more-often-than-not unintentional.
If you love a person, and constantly think about them, that is a form of meditation. When meditation, in this sense (not in this specific situation though), is unintentional, that is when it can also sometimes be harmful to yourself and others. For instance, if you constantly dwell on how much you hate a person, that thought will become so real with time that eventually everything you see in them will be layered with negativity, and you’ll not be able to stand in their presence without a boiling inner-conflict continuously being on the verge of bursting forth. Other people will sense this (not in a mysterious way though; rather via body language and with other subtle non-verbal and verbal clues, like the tone of one’s voice or stiffness in the lips as a person speaks) and they will feel uncomfortable, but they won’t entirely know why. For this reason, I believe meditation is a practice everyone should incorporate into their lives, if not to better themselves, then at least to put an end to other meditations they may be unknowingly performing that are destructive to themselves.
In as few words as possible...
I believe meditation is a way of CONSCIOUSLY creating certain beliefs to better your life - with the tool of your unconscious mind - by way of RELAXING your body, FOCUSING your thoughts, and REPEATING specific ideas to yourself until they become a reality... until you have effectively 'brainwashed' yourself with an idea/ ideas of your own devising.
Why You Would Want To Meditate
Through meditation, you could potentially improve on each of the following aspects of your life...
* Thinking more clearly
* Remembering facts with less of a struggle
* Falling asleep more easily at night, and sleeping more deeply, and waking up with less effort
* Creating or reinforcing an inner strength to break a certain bad habit/ habits
* Dealing with others with more confidence
And the list goes on.
How I Believe Meditation Works
For me, I’d have to describe meditation as a conscious form of sleep. That’s an oxymoron, I know, but I’ll explain why I said it.
When you meditate, you relax your body so greatly with your mind that I believe it enters a state so at rest it is as if you were physically 'passed out'. You’re still conscious, however... particularly in an inwards sense. And when you begin focusing and repeating a certain idea in your mind, it reaches your unconscious mind with more definiteness in this ‘frame of mind’ which is the entire point of meditation: to 'brainwash' yourself EFFECTIVELY and POSITIVELY.
While your unconscious mind is your ‘computer mind’ - having no feelings or desires, but rather merely holding the ability to compute - it’s also the mind that makes you who you are. If you have addictions, fears, desires... if you need something or desperately want something... then it's because your unconscious mind has been programmed this way by your conscious mind.
Your unconscious mind - again, like a computer - furthermore stores all the long-term data you accumulate in your life. Have you ever tried desperately hard to think of something, but can’t... but once you give up and turn your thoughts to another line of contemplation, that’s often when the previous item of information you were attempting to remember comes back to you? Well I believe this happens because a stress has been eliminated in your thinking pattern - a stress which had been working AGAINST the recall process. As soon as you put a halt on stress, when trying to remember something, your conscious mind and unconscious mind work better together. And that’s what meditation is firstly about... letting go of stress and relaxing. Meditation basically allows you to do what you can already do, but not when you’re in a CERTAIN STATE of consciousness.
Why I Believe Meditation Works
I just think it does.
No scientific proof, just conjecture on my part, but based on MUCH personal experience and experimentation.
For one thing: after meditating, situations in one's life, and one's feelings and abilities, won’t necessarily change drastically for the better, and when things do change as one wants them to, they won’t necessarily change immediately, quickly, or even with a certain observable haste.
In other words, while I approach meditation as though it is a science, I admit that this is NOT because substantial evidence supports my meditational efforts. Maybe I’m just convinced it works because it suits me to believe this. I am human, after all, and admit that I might therefore see what I want to see.
That said, now to the specifics of how to meditate.
How I Meditate (... at this point in time)
Firstly, I don't believe you need to sit with folded legs, having your hands rest palm-up on your knees when meditating. I do meditate like this, however, but only due to preference, not because it's the correct way or most correct way. It’s just the most correct way for me. You see, this is the best possible position for me to rest in because it's a balanced position between lying down and standing up. If I meditate while lying down, I sometimes run the risk of falling asleep depending on the sort of day I’ve had. And if I meditate standing up, my body is too tense to relax, because my muscles all feel as though they are being used to keep me from falling over, so that's no good either. Thus sitting in a folded-legs position is a nice medium between being too relaxed and not relaxed enough.
Secondly, I sometimes meditate in the morning and night, but mostly only at night. This is peculiar, as I know many people who meditate only in the morning so as to ‘kick the day off’ on a positive note. Additionally, I usually meditate JUST before going to sleep. That said, I mean that I make sure I’m ready for bed before I meditate, as I want to be able to go straight to sleep directly after having gone into 'my zone'.
And now, may I kindly present to you the process (my process) of meditation...
1) Before getting to the meditation, I relax my muscles by doing something physical. Either I’ll go for a run, or do some form of working out, but I need to make sure the muscles in my body have first laboured a bit before doing anything else. Tiring your muscles out (but to a point where you’re NOT exhausted) relaxes them.
2) I then stretch. When I say this, I mean that I make sure to further relax my muscles through a limbering process, and I don’t have any specific stretches I’ve learnt when I do this. The one thing I always do, however, is to stand fully upright with my feet slightly apart, then hold my arms directly out to the side, and pretend I’m being pulled in opposing directions at the same time... as though two invisible ropes, attached to either wrist, are pulling me almost into two pieces. I do this because when I sit, my arms very naturally then rest easily by my sides, with my hands palm-upwards on my knees. I sometimes touch the right index finger to the right thumb on my right hand, and the left index finger to the left thumb on my left hand, but not always. If I do this though, I usually push my fingers to my thumbs tightly at first, then also let them relax.
3) I continue the process by setting a timer to go off after 30 minutes or so, because I might otherwise find myself distracted with how long I’ve been meditating for instead of focusing fully on simply meditating. Time seems to always slow down when I meditate, and I’ve often therefore been convinced I’ve been in a meditation for far more of a length of time than I have. Have you ever experienced lying in bed with your thoughts, and afterwards felt as if quite a while has passed, then turned around and seen it's only been a few minutes? It's kind of like that.
4) I focus on my breathing. I breathe in both deeply and slowly, then release deeply and slowly. I repeat this process over and over again. Breathing is a topic one could easily write an article on just by itself though (an article that 'one' most likely WILL write at a later date) and you should make sure not to proceed too quickly to the next step until your continuously exaggerated slow breathing feels natural or at least mostly natural.
5) I make no non-verbal utterances, but know that many people do: the sound of 'om' being a very popular one. For me, I see no point in this. I’ve experimented in the past with trying to focus on the sound of my own mumbling choruses, but apart from feeling the sudden urge to give myself a standing ovation, there is no effect (productive or otherwise) in doing this. Occasionally I will speak real words aloud, a few times over, but not generally. Sometimes hearing yourself speaking a meditational thought can make that thought stick more clearly in your mind. Simple as that.
6) Generally I’ll close my eyes after a short while, but I do occasionally like to visually meditate on something in particular. If I meditate on a burning candle, I normally look just above it because I don’t relish the after-effects on my vision if I stare directly at the eye of a flame for too long. Recently I’ve taken to watching my bird when I meditate though, because when she’s deeply asleep (with her eyes wide open and standing up, with one leg pushed up against her body) I love how composed she is, and how her breathing is so incredibly slow. I suppose I am, in essence, following her lead. Whatever the case, it calms me immensely to watch her. Even when I’m not meditating, truth be told. But you can focus on anything that will steady your mind as completely as possibly. I’ve sometimes centered my attention on a picture of a person I think highly of, or - more bizarre than that - I’ve even gone so far as to simply focus on a piece of paper with said person's name on it.
7) Only when I feel quite relaxed do I then close my eyes (I ultimately always close my eyes) and start repeating a certain thought over and over in my mind. The thought can be anything I wrote down earlier in the day, and more often than not I repeat more than one thought. Sometimes, when I’m out and about, I’ll have what I think is ‘a clever idea for a sentence to meditate on’, so I’ll write it down, just in case I forget later what that thought was. The question, however, that you may be wondering about is ‘How often should you repeat a sentence in your mind?’ The only way I can answer this is by telling you that - from my perspective - reinforcing a thought, to make it a belief (a mental habit), sometimes entails my repeating that sentence 10 times in a row before I imagine it to be resonating truthfully and firmly in my mind (if I’m quite focused and not too tired), but sometimes I will repeat another thought 50 times (if it’s a thoroughly important idea I wish to embed into my unconscious mind, and if it’s a wildly new sort of thought relative to my usual mode of thinking). It’s like learning lines in a play over and over until you’ve conditioned yourself to say them automatically. Some people can do this quickly, some people can’t, for whatever the reason or whatever the circumstance. But it probably goes back MOSTLY to relaxation. Trial and error (and eventual success) is ultimately what it will all come down to though.
8) When I’ve 'spoken' my last thought over and over in my mind, I slowly open my eyes, then hop gently into bed. My last meditated thought is usually my most important one, therefore. But making sure I don’t come too quickly or roughly out of a meditation is also important.
Throughout this whole process, I have the lights off, because that’s my preference.
I also avoid listening to music (even when it’s supposedly mesmerically calming) as I’m personally more comfortable with silence when meditating. But because I'm currently on this particular topic: if YOU would like to listen to some meditational music - because 'each to his own' - then I'd suggest you simply browse a video-sharing website that will have self improvement meditation music on it, or something to that effect. Maybe even simply try a keyword like 'meditation music'.
Being indoors is also usually my preference; although if I lived in a mountainous area, my thinking on this matter might be swayed.
Basically I prefer to be in an environment with as few distractions as possible when meditating; and a quiet, dark, still room usually provides this sort of comfort space for my body and mind.
Lastly - and it may sound somewhat ridiculous - if I ever develop an itch while meditating, I scratch it, regardless of how far into the process of meditation I may be. As the old adage goes: if you have an itch... well, you know the rest.
A Thought I Almost Always Meditate On
My one meditation, before ending almost every meditation is...
‘I sleep well, I wake easily'
At first it began as ‘I will sleep well, I will wake easily, I will have plenty of energy the next day’.
I modified it for the following three reasons...
1) I find that if you keep a meditation as short as possible, it’s easier to repeat it in your mind.
2) When I use the word ‘will’, I’m telling my unconscious mind that ‘at some stage’ I am going to sleep well and wake easily and have plenty of energy; and because the unconscious mind is similar to a computer, taking everything it absorbs literally, if you ‘program’ it with words that are too specific, it may be to your own detriment. As an example: the more words you put into a Google search query, the more limited your search results will be. By leaving out the word ‘will’, I’m making the statement of ‘sleeping well and waking easily’ to be at any time, as opposed to a future time sometime.
3) I took out the bit about ‘having plenty of energy the next day’ because I came to realize that it’s an unnecessary thought to meditate on when my first two thoughts will basically make 'having plenty of energy the next day' happen anyway. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t even need to meditate on the idea of waking easily, because if I sleep well, I will probably automatically wake easily as a result too, and in having slept well, I will obviously have plenty of energy ‘the next day’. Hmmmm.
So be very mindful with your thoughts, using words that won’t limit you, and that mean exactly what you want them to mean, and discard what's unnecessary.
Depending on how creative you are, and how much time you choose to spend thinking about what thoughts to meditate on will determine how much of yourself you can change or at least improve on.
Some Other Ways Of Meditating
Because meditation is ultimately about ‘RELAXING, FOCUSING, and REPETITION’ you can meditate in any way and at any time.
Yes, at any time!
You could even meditate while walking down the road (as I’ve occasionally done) or as you’re free-falling out of a plane (as I’ve never come close to doing). Whatever works best for you is the ‘rule of thumb’.
And don’t forget: the only way to discover what will work best for you is by not limiting yourself to one style of meditation 'just because it feels right' or limiting yourself to just one school of thought on the matter. Some other style (or another person's advice on the topic) might feel more right, but you won’t know unless you’re prepared to shake things up occasionally by tackling your meditational habits differently.
The Most Important Aspect About Meditation
Use everything that you read about meditation as a guideline.
If something in this article ‘rings false’ to you, then don’t incorporate it into your system of thinking or doing. Or do incorporate it, but modify it to your own specifications.
We are all VERY different in our physical structure and thinking, so, as a result, none of us will do things in exactly the same manner, having exactly the same feelings and reactions. If someone tells you the definitive way to meditate, therefore, they are quite likely mistaken (so you perhaps shouldn’t listen to them) or they're lying to you (so you most definitely shouldn’t listen to them).
Just to reiterate, therefore: when it comes to meditation, this is the number one rule...
Do. Whatever. Works. Best. For. You.
OTHER RECOMMENDED ARTICLES
* The Mind
* The Power Of The Subconscious Mind
* The Heart Of Self Improvement
* Self Improvement Gyming
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