Meditation may seem to be a strange and mysterious process; for many people, the first thought that comes to mind is someone sitting cross-legged in a yoga studio making “Om” vibrations. While that can be part of it, right now we’re going to dispel the myths and discover “what does meditation feel like?”
What is meditation, anyway?
It sounds so simple, meditation, but what does this tiny, little word actually mean? The answer is, it is a way of training the mind and body towards mindfulness by learning to focus on a specific objective.
Almost every person will tell you a different story about their experiences during meditation; the experience is as unique as the individual. However, there are some common phases that everyone goes through when learning the practice.
Just starting out
When you’ve just begun to meditate, you may find yourself in the traditional pose mentioned above, humming an “Om” as smooth as honey, and still not experiencing that expected “meditation feeling.”
This is because when we first start out, we expect too much––to be able to relax, to feel the benefits we’ve heard about, and immediately. But this doesn’t always work; it is a practice which takes time and dedication to master.
The experiences you’re likely to have on the first few tries may be anything from encountering boredom (totally normal), feeling silly (quite naturally), and even getting a little bit agitated that it’s not working (again a totally typical experience).
But practice makes perfect, keep going, and you will soon see changes.
Steps to take when you're starting out:
- Find a time when you will be free to meditate.
- Choose a mantra that works for you.
- Practice combining your breathing, mantra and relaxing your body.
- Try meditating for five minutes at first and then increase the time.
- Keep practicing and don’t give up.
No longer on step one, you’ve crossed the threshold and are now having tangible meditation experiences. Your sessions are now longer, more productive, and dare we say it, more enjoyable.
At this stage, you will likely notice that you are able to concentrate on your practice for longer and may start experiencing physical sensations during mediation, such as your body relaxing and letting go of the tension it has built up.
All this is positive progress, and you should give yourself a big pat on the back.
Next steps for meditation-pros:
- Keep up the great work.
- Increase your sessions; no longer five minutes, think 15 and maybe even 30.
- Enjoy the success you’ve had so far and note the benefits you feel.
Now you’ve entered guru territory; your mediation skills are showing benefits during your session and, even when you’re not actively practicing, in your everyday life. This is amazing progress.
At this point you’re probably experiencing lots of changes, such as becoming unaware you are meditating and having time pass without you realizing it, your breathing may slow, and you feel that your muscles are a lot less tense than usual.
Even once you’ve stopped meditating, you will find the benefits flow and continue beyond the session––you are better able to deal with problems, you find it easier to manage your thought processes, and control your behavior. Leading to a calmer, more composed you.
All these are signs that meditation is working, and your dedication hasn’t been in vain.
What comes after the Zen-level guru stage:
- Now you’ve mastered the technique, all that’s left to do is improve and direct all that energy where you want it to go.
- Keep practicing meditation and concentrate on focusing your thoughts on your goals.
Simply, enjoy the benefits that come with having peace of mind and body, and ensure that you keep up the good work.