Which type of meditation does your mind need? Usually, we treat our minds differently than our bodies, often avoiding taking care of the mind.
How do you take care of your body?
The answer would comprise of one or more of the following elements: exercise, a healthy diet, physical hygiene, and taking proper medicine when required.
But that’s just scratching the surface.
Let’s take the example of exercising. People don’t just perform a single, universal set of exercises. They have various preferences, for different physical needs.
This can range from improving cardiovascular function and stamina, to improving muscle tone, gaining muscle mass, weight loss, and so on.
Now let’s concentrate on the physical hygiene. There is no one aspect of physical hygiene. Different parts of the body require different type of attention.
Take oral hygiene (brushing our teeth, flossing, mouth wash, etc.), bathing, and other grooming exercises.
In both cases (exercise and physical hygiene), every aspect requires a different set of tools and type of care. Simply put together the different tools and techniques we use just for taking care of our oral health and hygiene.
Now think of your mind, and mental health and hygiene.
How many exercises, techniques, and tools do you use to take care of it?
The most commonly known and popular tool, technique, and method is, well… meditation.
Now, does it strike as strange? How we have left the care of our mind to the fringes of our thought?
Similar to how our bodies require different techniques for a single aspect of its care, so does our mind.
Meditation is used to make us more aware of our thoughts and emotions, and rise above the clouds of wandering thoughts, so we can live a healthier mental life.
It’s a practice dating back to the earliest human civilizations and various types of meditation exist specifically to work with different parts of your mind.
We will discuss three.
#1 Concentration Meditation
A recent study found out that the attention span of any average human has reduced to 8 seconds. It means that we cannot hold a coherent thought for more than eight seconds, which creates a lot of clutter in the form of unstructured ideas.
This is where concentration meditation comes into play.
This technique involves focusing on a single point. Prominent focus points include the breath, counting beads, repeating a mantra, focusing on candle flames, among others.
The steps are similar to the normal meditation practice. You take a comfortable seating posture with your back straight, taking a few seconds to become aware of your body weight, sounds and smell in the surrounding, and then closing your eyes.
Start breathing normally. Whenever your mind wanders, refocus your awareness back to the focus point.
Start with 5 minutes in one sitting, and increasing your duration and the number of times you can perform it per day.
#2 Mindfulness Meditation
Random thoughts are your mind’s way of informing you of what you are most concerned with on a day-to-day basis.
However, when these thoughts compete for our attention, they prevent us from focusing on the tasks. This often drains us of focus, a scarce resource that each of us has in limited store at the start of each day.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to become capable of simply observing thoughts and feelings, and letting them go instead of becoming involved with them.
While meditating, instead of refocusing your attention to a single point, you simply make a mental note of the thought and feeling by labeling it as either ‘thought’ or ‘feeling’, followed by ‘pleasant’ and ‘unpleasant’.
Over time, an inner balance is created as instead of reacting to the thought’s essence, you simply observe what it is and let it go.
#3 Walking Meditation
Sir Ken Robinson once pointed out that people often use their body as a transport for their head. We are so often lost in thoughts and become unaware of our bodies.
This is where walking meditation comes into play. It allows you to focus on your body during motion.
Stand straight, taking a few seconds to become aware of your body weight and surrounding. Focus on your feet and start walking at your natural pace.
While walking, become aware of how your feet touch the ground (when the toe lifts, or when the foot is flat on the ground).
When your mind wanders, gently refocus the attention to your feet.
This is a great exercise that allows you to remain present and in control of attention during work, especially during times of stress.