To Think Or Not To Think? Discussing The Right Way to Meditate
Since one of Inite’s goals is to introduce the idea of meditation into daily life, we feel it is necessary to educate our users on this topic. And now we’re going to talk about the most vital question that comes up when you hear the word “meditation” — how do you do it correctly?
Not many people would answer this question immediately and briefly. If you google “Meditation guidelines” and open a few random articles, their instructions are likely to argue with each other.
“Meditation, in its simplest form, is intentional thinking”,- says Ceasar Barajas, a renowned coach of breathing and meditation practices.
“When there are thoughts, there is a distraction. When there are no thoughts, there is meditation”, — that’s the opposite quote from Maharishi: the Indian guru whose followers included the Beatles.
“Your goal is not to battle with the mind but to witness the mind”, — Swami Muktananda, another Indian guru, offers a compromise.
Yes, meditation is becoming an increasingly popular trend, but its apologists often attribute different purposes to it. For example, mentors and business coaches describe meditation as an opportunity to become attuned to the mind, reflect on important ideas, and recite positive affirmations. Such approaches include, for example, the “Priming” practice by the great and terrible Tony Robins. The famous coach suggests devoting 14 minutes every morning to the practice, which consists of breathing exercises, the mental utterance of gratitude, visualization of achievements, and filling with energy. According to his followers, this meditation is great for planning, achieving goals, and being in a good mood.
Yogis and spiritual guides (whose tasks are often at odds with those of business coaches) are more likely to use meditation as a technique for deep relaxation and quieting the mind. Rather than thanking oneself for the past, contemplating the present, and visualizing the future, meditation should instead be seen as a rest from restless thoughts.
Which of these instructions on how to meditate is the most valid? Let’s assume all of them at once because the meaning of the word “Meditation” allows for all options!
What does the term “Meditation” actually mean?
In the form in which we use it, the word “meditation” comes from Latin. “Meditatio” literally means “to think,” “to contemplate,” and “to work out ideas.” The interpretation is pretty clear-cut, right? But there is also a second meaning: the word “Medio,” which can also be seen as the root word for meditation, means “center.” That is, meditation can be understood as the process of putting something at the center of attention. This something can be anything from watching a sunset to saying affirmations.
But we should not forget that meditation, as it is most commonly understood, came to us from the East, mostly from India. And while in the Western lexicon, all methods of mind observation are united by one name, in Asia, there are different terms for different cases.
Take Sanskrit as an example: an ancient language that underlies a raw of religious and spiritual movements. Thus, fixation on something specific (whether it be an external object, a mantra, or breathing) is Dharana. Dhyana is contemplation and meditation on what Dharana is focused on. And the highest state of quieting the mind and merging with the world is Samadhi; this is where the yogis and spiritual leaders believe meditation should eventually lead. And these are just three concepts! In Buddhism and Hinduism, there are considerably more of these concepts, and each meditative technique has its own name.
But in this case, the English language differs from Sanskrit, Hindi, or Tibetan. We don’t have that variety of spiritual vocabulary (unless you’re a yoga practitioner). Thus, we refer to all mindfulness techniques in one word, causing so much disagreement.
So many methods with so much in common
It is easy to avoid these discrepancies if we conventionally divide all meditative approaches into two general categories:
- Concentration techniques;
- Mindfulness techniques.
Concentrative meditation suggests focusing on something specific. It can be, for example, breathing exercises or concentrating on a certain idea. During such meditations, you don’t let your thoughts wander. All of your attention is fixed on one thing, and your mind centers around it. Such methods include, for example, the aforementioned Priming meditation by Tony Robbins
“Energy flows where attention goes”, Toni Robbins.
Depending on which of the many techniques you choose, concentrative meditation helps you achieve various goals. For example, breathing exercises directly impact the body and improve health. Focused thinking about something specific helps you find a solution. And visualization helps to move confidently toward your plans.
Mindfulness meditation is essentially a compilation of Buddhist practices and their adaptation for Westerners. This is a process of non-judgmental observation of what is happening around and inside — with awareness and an open mind.
“Just be. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation”, — Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk.
For best effect, it is also worth keeping your attention on something specific, but without much effort. That is, if, for example, the concentrative techniques may require that you breathe in a certain way, then mindfulness meditation involves simply observing the breath. Instead of breathing, you can also witness the general sensations in the body or a burning candle, for example.
You can also help yourself with a guided meditation in the audio recording: with voice and sound effects, the guide leads you to the desired state of an open mind.
During mindfulness meditation, you should not cling to thoughts and emotions. On the contrary, try to reach for a condition in which thoughts simply float through your mind like clouds in a blue sky.
Mindfulness meditation reduces anxiety, improves mood, and shortens intrusive thoughts. This technique has proven effective in treating depression and certain types of phobias.
And in any case, both concentrative and mindfulness meditation contribute to developing attention and mental health. You learn to better recognize your feelings, explain your thoughts, and manage your state. The mind becomes “cleaner,” and there is literally more room for creativity!
Universal meditation rules
To compile this short guide, we’ve filtered out from the various meditation techniques everything that separates them and gathered the most essential things that they have in common.
1st Rule: Engage in the present moment Meditation is not about floating in the clouds but rather about attuning your mind and body. Whether you choose to focus on some idea or on your breath — don’t let the daydreaming distract you. At the same time, don’t try to stop the thought process completely: it’s impossible. Just calmly bring your attention back if you notice that it has wandered.
2nd Rule: Take care of physical comfort If someone knows how to meditate sitting on nails, it is not necessary to follow their example. To make it easier to immerse yourself, you should take care in advance about silence and a comfortable posture. Be sure to turn off notifications on your phone. To avoid distraction from checking the remaining time, set a timer.
You may choose virtually any pose for meditation; the only necessary rule is to keep the back as straight as possible without overstraining it. If it is difficult for you to sit still and you constantly fidget, it is worth doing some physical exercises and stretching before the start.
3rd Rule: Make it a habit! It is scientifically proven that regular meditation improves the brain at the neural level (we will talk more about this in our future articles, so stay tuned). But to feel these changes, you need to meditate not once every couple of weeks, but every day, step by step. The further you go, the easier it will be for you to engage in the moment and manage your thoughts. And that sooner or later, it will definitely be reflected in your daily life, relationships and career.
That’s when Inite comes to help!
At Inite, our goal is not to promote any particular meditation method among the hundreds that exist. We do not focus on specific philosophical concepts, yogic techniques, or modern-day coaching. You can use our tool in the way that suits you best.
Inite rewards you for the time you spend in the company of your own mind and without a phone in your hand. Then you can record your state or summarize your thoughts by creating “Ideas” and sharing them with others. The game becomes your extra motivation for simple but daily practices.
How exactly you use the game time is your choice! We can only give you simple advice: try different ways to find the most comfortable one by your own experience.
And we will help you turn meditation into a daily habit, the benefits of which are not doubted by the followers of either system.
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