Meditation Techniques Overview
As I indicated in my previous post Meditation Changes the Brain, there is scientific evidence that meditation has beneficial effects not only on your mood and outlook on life but actual physical changes in your brain that increase your capacity to think and reason. Then question then becomes, "How do I meditate?" or even, "What is meditation?" Merriam-Webster defines the act of meditating as engaging in contemplation, reflection or a similar mental exercise. Some of the simplest exercises can be considered meditation. Many people subscribe to the simple 5-10 minute breathing meditation where you simply focus all of your attention on the act of breathing (usually focusing on the breath entering and leaving your nose) and counting those breaths with one count being an inhale and an exhale. Another meditation for those that have trouble sitting still is paying attention to the act of walking--when your foot hits the ground; what parts hit first, next and last. Another meditation technique that helps those that are easily distracted is lighting a candle and focusing on the flame. A good addition to this exercise is to have a paper and pen ready and just mark down each time your mind wanders. When your mind wanders, simple put the mark on the paper and refocus on the flame. Do this for as long as you can muster. With this technique you can keep track of your focusing progress and how disciplined your mind has become.
These practices can help us understand our own minds. With the fast paced nature of modern western culture, often times we don't have time to examine who we are as human beings and our relationships with others around us. As you grow in your meditation practices, more advanced techniques can be employed involving mantras and focusing on ideas instead of physical objects. You might even find you can meditate on your morning commute (if you don't drive and take a train!) filled with the hussle and bussle of people. Outside distractions will no longer bother you. Good luck on your practice!