To meditate is to be in the consciousness of the present moment, of one’s sensations. This millenary discipline of Indian origin is presently of interest to neuroscientists and psychologists because it promotes a mental state that allows us to overcome stress and find inner peace. By freeing the mind from stressful or harmful thoughts, meditation helps us discover who we are and reconcile with ourselves.
It is frequently esteemed that meditation is about clearing the mind. The reality is completely different. “To meditate is to learn to pay attention to the present moment as it is with the whole of one’s being,” sums up Fabrice Medal, philosopher and founder of the Western School of Meditation. In short, the opposite of the current stressful and exhausting trend. Because we are always in a hurry, we constantly mobilize all our senses and have a critical look at everything, including ourselves. Meditating is, therefore, taking the time to abandon and capture direct and benevolent attention to what is happening within and around us.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Meditation represents a state that can be accessed through various techniques. It can be practiced in the “lotus” posture, legs crossed, but also standing, sitting, walking, with eyes open or closed, silently or repeating a syllable or a sound, the mind focused on an image or an idea… Whatever the technique, the goal is the same: to train to maintain one’s attention without getting carried away by useless or harmful thoughts, even if it means concentrating first on one specific thing (one’s breathing, body, etc.). “To begin with, the simplest way is to use a CD,” advises the expert, who recommends starting on your own to be able to move forward at your own pace. One condition: maintain an assiduous practice.
If the calming effect of meditation is experienced from the first session, the objective is above all to make us see the world as it is and to accept ourselves as we are. This causes repercussions on our quotidian life: fewer ruminations, more confident feelings (joy, curiosity, enthusiasm, pride, etc.) better concentration, increased intuition, and creativity… But contrary to popular belief, meditation does not necessarily make us more Zen. Above all, it confronts us with our difficulties and invites us to take charge of our life as it is right now.
How to meditate ?
IN A ZAZEN POSTURE
You can meditate in a suit in a so-called lotus position (legs are crossed.) or more simply in a suit or sitting on a chair. In all cases, you must adopt a balanced posture, neither too tense nor too relaxed to avoid falling asleep. Your neck and back are straight, your stomach are supple, your shoulders relaxed. Your chin is tucked in. Your gaze is lowered. Your eyes close gently. In this posture your right hand is resting on your left hand, palms facing the sky.
Try to clear your mind by concentrating on your breath. Let your ideas, your thoughts pass by, as if small clouds were passing through the sky.
BY THE BLOW
To initiate you can practice breath meditation. This exercise helps to maintain attention and relax the mind. Our breath represents a point of reference that invites us to remain anchored in the present. Little by little your thoughts will become more fluid, and your mind will calm down, you will be better able to control your thoughts and emotions.
Inhale and exhale slowly. Focus all your attention on your breathing; mentally count “one” at the end of a completed cycle of the breath i.e. inhalation and exhalation, then “two” at the end of the next cycle and so on until you reach ten, and then start again from one. As soon as an external thought arises, enable it to pass as clouds pass through the sky.
This meditation consists of focusing on an object: a pebble, a flower, the flame of a candle or any other element at your convenience provided it is not unnecessarily complex.
Focus your attention on the chosen object and to return to it as soon as you are distracted by other thoughts.
As time goes by, the minutest details of the object being observed become significant and can gradually fade away parasitic thoughts.
To maintain your attention, you can associate a word with the object you are observing; for example, if you are contemplating a rose, you can associate the word “beauty” with it and thus acquire a particular awareness of the object.
I advise you to use the same object for several days to prepare and reinforce the impact of this contemplative practice.
Mantras obtain formulas that are repeated for several minutes with closed eyes to channel thought. Originally “the mantra” is a Sanskrit term related to Buddhism and Hinduism. The traditional mantras that are chanted reflect a sacred character, OM being the most famous. Deepak Copra, the famous Indian doctor recommends that we repeat the mantra “So ham” (I am.) several times to strengthen our self-confidence.
But nowadays, apart from any spiritual consideration, psychologists use mantra meditation to induce a state of relaxation in their patients.
It is the repetition of a sentence or a word that allows you to clear your mind and you can use an incantation, a poem extract or a sentence that you like.
This technique is brilliantly simple and does not require any precise posture. It can be practiced standing, sitting and even lying down.