"Quiet the mind and the soul will speak,” is a quote from Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, as she promotes the practice of meditation. Many of us struggle to do this at any point during the day and often lay awake at night, unable to calm ourselves from the inner dialogue casting doubts and throwing out judgment.
The old Zen quote from Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon tells us, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day—unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” It’s realizing just how much noise the mind is making that becomes your turning point, and knowing you can learn to let the thoughts and the emotions pass. You can value the impact stillness can have on one’s life.
There are a few ways to define meditation but perhaps the simplest is expressed by best-selling author Gabby Bernstein: “Meditation is a practice that trains your mind.” Think of it as exercise for your brain. There are also several ways to do it and some have a more spiritual base than others.
- Mindfulness meditation often involves paying attention to your breath, your physical sensations and your environment. When your mind wanders, you gently bring it back to the present.
- Transcendental Meditation is practiced twice a day for 20 minutes. During this time, you sit comfortably with your eyes closed and silently repeat a mantra.
- Kundalini meditation uses mantras, breath work, mudras (hand positions) and even physical movements.
- Guided meditations are great for both beginner and experienced meditators. During a guided meditation, a teacher guides you (in person or via audio or video) through a practice.
Mindfulness teacher Jennifer Innes, the Founder of Ottawa Meditation & Wellness, explains the following: “To get the great benefits from mindfulness and meditation you need to practice consistently. It’s no different than the consistent effort needed in other areas where we want to develop and grow. A skilled meditation teacher will have the ability to properly guide and support students toward greater understanding of their own experience.”
There are also some useful meditation apps to get people started which offer lessons, guidance and reminders for daily practice. Headspace, Calm and Ten Percent Happier are well-recognized apps with guided meditations.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, but there are tools to help like meditation cushions, scents, beads and singing bowls.
Technology is also part of the meditation practice now with a device called Muse (The Brain Sensing Headband). It uses advanced signal processing to interpret your mental activity to help guide you.