Beginners Guide to Meditation – Meditation 101: The Basics – Before you can begin practicing meditation you do need to understand what it is and why you need to use this method of relaxation.
The brain is the primary tool that you’ll use to define this process. But, you may not realize that when the brain is in a “normal” state that it actually is very abnormal in what it is doing.
To help you to understand meditation, we must first break down the different stages in which the brain functions so that you can see the state of mind that you are functioning in most often.
The Stages of the Mind
There are three unique stages in the brain that depict how it is functioning at any one time. When you consider meditation, only going through these three stages can actually get to you achieve the serenity that you are after with meditation.
Stage One: The Normal Mind
In the “normal” state of mind, your mind is working in various directions. It is functioning as it usually does, which means it is bouncing from one idea and thought to the next. In fact, this is quite an abnormal activity for the brain because it needs to focus on a lesser number of ideas if it is to be successful in resolving problems.
Stimuli from all over the place are coming in at the brain. When something new stimulates your mind, it moves from its previous thought to the new one.
Although you feel like you are completely in control of yourself during this type of brain function, you likely aren’t.
You have very little control over the way that you behave and think during this type of situation. Not only do your thoughts move from one thing to the next thing quickly, but your physical being is doing the same thing too. Your emotions follow suit, too.
An example of this type of brain activity can be as simple as seeing a child playing. If you see that child while you are driving, your mind goes from control of the vehicle to the child. She’s cute, playing and riding her bike.
Then, your mind moves to thoughts from your own childhood. You feel good and smile at the happy memories.
Of course, it doesn’t always play out so innocently. You can go through these same thoughts and emotional processes with negative images too.
Consider if that child was a teenager, doing something that they shouldn’t be. Now, you are wondering about your own children, what they are doing that you don’t know about. And, your emotions follow you too with thoughts that are fearful and tense.
In a negative situation, you are likely to become distracted by the thoughts playing through your mind which then directly impacts the way that you drive your vehicle. Perhaps you run a red light or you narrowly miss a car accident.
As you can see, in your normal state of mind, your emotions as well as your physical being are at stake. Each plays their own role in the outcome of these events.
Often, stresses build up during this process and since it is our “normal” state of mind, they pile on over time. You can find yourself unable to concentrate on anything and overtime you can have trouble balancing all that you have to do in your everyday life.
For the most part, your “normal” way of thinking may be one of the worst things that you can do for yourself.
Stage Two: Concentration
When you enter into concentration, you enter into the first state that will lead you to meditation. Yet, don’t confuse concentration with meditation. It’s very much something quite different.
During the second stage of meditation, you can begin to get control of your mind. When you learn to keep yourself in this type of mind frame, chances are good that you’ll improve the quality of your life considerably.
In concentration, your goal seems simple but it is actually quite difficult to master to any degree. You need to concentrate on one sole thing or object.
To be successful, you need to keep your mind focused on that one thing and not be distracted by any type of diversion that happens to spring up. Focus on it, without allowing your mind to wander. It’s very difficult, actually.
During concentration, although the process of focusing on one element is simple enough, the problem is the mind’s ability to trick you back into its “normal” state of being. By pulling off the actual concentration topic and focusing on another, it pulls you back.
For example, if you need to concentrate on a paper for school, you could be sitting down thinking and working. You’ll allow your mind to focus and relax on the topic at hand. You think to yourself about the topic and can really clearly see what it is.
Then, you think of what your teacher had to say about the paper. That leads to thoughts of what your friend said next to you while the teacher was talking. Within a matter of minutes, you are thinking about something completely different than the original thought.
The end result is that you are distracted so much so that you are back at the “normal” stage of thinking, having accomplished little in way of concentration. That’s not what will help you.
The goal with concentration, though, is to realize what’s happened. When you realize that you’ve been distracted and that your mind has fooled you into making its own decisions then you can come back and actually concentrate.
When you can master the art of keeping your mind focused and concentrating, you will experience a new type of thinking. You’ll be able to relax more and you’ll be able to actually feel better about life. That’s an amazing feeling!
Stage Three: Final Meditation
In meditation, the third stage of the process, you enter a completely different realm. Now, you are able to fully concentrate on the object or thought that needs to be accomplished without falling for any type of distraction. Here, no distractions or mind tricks happen to you during the process.
It’s a stage that you should strive for because it really can offer you a new way of looking at things. In many ways, you’ll be able to fully focus so much so that you can better understand and educate yourself. You make better decisions that are focused.
During concentration, your mind is only really concentrating on the objects you present it in a minimal way. Distraction breaks the continuous stream of concentrating thoughts. This leaves you with having to recognize the problem and to go back and change it.
In meditation, though, this is no longer the case. Now, you are keeping an ongoing stream of thought moving. There’s nothing breaking it and nothing that is able to pull your mind from it. This is the ultimate experience in meditation because of the amount of focus it provides you.
In an example of what meditation can do for you, consider this. If you think about just one topic, over and over again, anything and everything connected to that topic will come to you in one form or another. Let’s say that the word that you use is that of love.
If you think of love in a meditation stage, you concentrate on that one word which leads to other love terms. You love something, you love someone, different types of love, and so on.
Eventually, you have connected virtually every way possible to love. You physically feel it, you emotionally feel it. You have thought about everything about it. And, eventually, you have connected everything you can to love.
When you have achieved this type of meditation, you’ve elevated yourself to a new enlightenment. You’ve gone far beyond the simply level of concentration.
Now, you have entered the final stages of meditation which is called contemplation. This part of the final stage of meditation is the very best level of consciousness that your mind and body can enter.
Although it takes some time to work through these various processes to achieve this level of understanding, the end result is well worth it.
Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist
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