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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

3 Tips For Meditation Every Beginner Must Know

3 Tips For Meditation Every Beginner Must Know

The right tips for meditation are crucial for the success of your meditation practice. More and more people start to meditate every day, searching for peace, solace, and personal improvement.

Many beginners of meditation are wrongly guided and, as a result, there are thousands of courses available for meditation, teaching meditation in various ways—some in a week, other in 10-days course. There are weekend seminars on meditation, most of them making the initiation of your meditation practice even more confusing.

You don’t need to read books or any courses on meditation that go for days or weeks. Use these three tips for meditation, and you’ll experience a quick and proper initiation in the practice of meditation.

Regardless of your knowledge about meditation, if you apply these tips as shown, you’ll experience a meditative state of mind and understand what meditation really is and how to meditate properly.

As a Raja Yoga Teacher, I study and practice meditation for 19 years and my in-depth research into the philosophy and psychology of yoga has given me the knowledge embedded in these tips I’ll show you here.

Meditation Is an Intrinsic Activity

The concept of meditation has developed in the ancient wisdom of the Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishad, dating back to the earlier part of the 1st Millennium BCE.

Chandogya Upanishad opens up with the sutra:[1]

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“Let a man meditate on OM.”

Later on, the concept of meditation evolved in traditions as Jainism and Buddhism having various kinds of definitions and techniques. However, all of the definitions aim towards the same purpose and that is to attend and inquire into the human mind.

To give you an easy reference when sharing information about meditation, I’ll refer to the definition of meditation from the original texts of Yoga—the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

“Tatra Pratyayaikatanaataa Dhyaanam”

This means that meditation is the constant focus on an object, subject, image, or thought.

One of the most important things to mention before giving you tips for a successful meditation process is that meditation is not something you can learn outside of yourself—it is a process of internal communication between your ego and your intelligence, happening inside of you.

1. Knowing

For the very beginner of meditation, the first and most important tip on meditation is to know that you attend your mind.

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This tip goes before the tips on how to sit right or meditate at the same time (early or late) at the same corner of your home. Know that meditation can be done at any time (morning, noon, evening), at any place (bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, park, etc.), and in any position (lying, sitting, or standing).

The mental activity of meditation, which has a psychological and spiritual purpose, can’t be conditioned by time, place. or form. This means that before you get busy with the physiological aspects of your meditation practice, you know that you attend:

  • your knowledge,
  • your memories,
  • your imaginations,
  • your misconceptions, and
  • your sleep.

These five mental fluctuations create your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. As a result, you end up in a certain mood—a state of being, that either advances or detriments your progress of meditation.

One of the most common mistakes that beginners do in mediation is getting engaged in the aspects of their body and mind. They have their concentration on those distractions practically throughout the whole meditation exercise where they generate:

  • constant feelings of discomfort;
  • thoughts of inability to perform the practice; and
  • emotions they don’t understand and try to get rid of.

To omit this mistake, pay close attention to this first tip and make it the fundament of your meditation exercise. Make sure you know that you attend your mind so you’ll start meditating.

2. Adjusting

Being a beginner, you can only last a few minutes in the proper meditation process, so it’s inefficient and ineffective to get occupied with your body position, location, place, and time before the realization of the first tip for mediation—the knowledge that you are attending your mind and knowing that this work is intrinsic and instantaneous.

If needed, adjusting can take care of your:

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  • Asana (body posture which can enable you to sit firmly and comfortably for an extended period of time);
  • Pranayama (control of breathing);
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses); and
  • Dharana (concentration).

By the above four, I explicitly mean:

  • Asana: Your body feels firm and comfortable—able to remain in that preferred position for the assigned period of time (5, 10, 15, or even 30 minutes). Don’t think this is a big deal here; this step can take only a few seconds until you have adjusted your body position. For preparing your body to sit firmly and comfortably you can use certain yoga postures (especially the squat pose).
  • Pranayama: Your breathing is flowing smoothly and you follow the streaming of your inhalation and exhalation. Also, this takes only a second. Use breathing exercises to help you feel what pranayama means.
  • Pratyahara: Your senses are withdrawn during the exercise. This doesn’t mean you attempt not to feel your body (hands, legs, skin), like ignoring your sense of touch or some sounds coming from the outside. These attempts are simply distractions for your practice. What you do is just let all the coming signals from the external stimuli flow and pass through your mind without identifying them. This way, the signals will gradually vanish and you won’t notice them anymore. That is a withdrawal of the senses.
  • Dharana: Your mind gets fixed on a certain object. This involves activation of the sense of sight (this makes Pratyahara impossible). Hence, I recommend fixing your mind on your breathing. This ensures the execution of the last three criteria at once (Pranayama, Pratyahara, and Dharana).

Sometimes in your meditation exercises, you’ll need to adjust these four elements more and sometimes less. Once you’re advanced in the practice of meditation, you’ll execute the first and the second tip so perfectly to the point where they are simply a part of you.

3. Observing

After the knowledge you’ve gained from the first tip and the adjustments that you’ve made from the second tip, now you have only one thing left to do: observe. By this, I mean internal observation as introspection.[2]

Dwell in a state of observation of your mental state of being, whatever it is. Meditation is the right thing for you to analyze and focus on yourself, especially when you’re surrounded by negativity.

It is more likely that your mental state of being shifts in the early stage of your practice. Here is the most important confusion between concentration and meditation that practitioners struggle with:

When your state of being shifts, the meditation ends and changes from one subject matter to another, and a new meditation process begins—here the mind concentrates on the new subject matter. If the need for concentration shifts too often and too quickly the practitioner is caught up in practicing concentration and not meditation.

But observing and being aware of that shift, through diligent practicing, the mind will gradually become more and more stable up to the point where you’ll be able to dwell in a mental state of a continuous flow on one subject matter only.

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Marcus Aurelius stated in his book, Meditations, that a diligent practice will make your life happy:

If you do the job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions, and keep the spirit inside you undamaged, as if you might have to give it back at any moment—If you can embrace this without fear or expectation—can find fulfillment in what you’re doing now, as Nature intended, and in superhuman truthfulness (every word, every utterance)—then your life will be happy. No one can prevent that.

Conclusion

Only the effort of observing can make sure you recognize if you’re concentrating or meditating. Once you have mastered that moment, your concentration becomes effortless. Just imagine the beauty of being able to master concentration. This goal stands on everybody’s wish-list.

By mastering meditation, you’d not only master yourself, but you’ll also master life and death. Knowing is the result of rational observing and adjusting makes the process between observing and knowing compact and efficient.

Use these three tips and you’ll see the beauty in meditation and the beauty within you!

More Tips for Meditation

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/S6UT8dEsLMU via unsplash.com

Reference

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Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Published on May 25, 2021

How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

Have you ever had chills, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, a cough, or perhaps even a fever? More than likely you must have experienced at least some of these symptoms at one time or another in your life. You knew that you were sick, perhaps with a common cold, maybe the flu, or possibly a viral infection of some sort.

Either way, no matter what the diagnosis might have been at the time, you didn’t feel well, and therefore, you probably took some form of action to help alleviate the symptoms so that you could feel better, perhaps some medicine, followed up with maybe a little chicken noodle soup, a glass of orange juice, and some bed rest. Nevertheless, when it comes to seeking treatment for symptoms of mental illness, there seems to be a big difference between the way that we look at healing the body and the mind.

First of all, there are some common stigmas associated with mental illness. People, in general, seem to have a hard time admitting that they are having a problem with their mental health.[1]

We all want our social media profiles to look amazing, filled with images of exotic vacations, fancy food, the latest fashion, and of course, plenty of smiling faces taken at just the right angle. There is an almost instinctive aversion to sharing our true feelings or emotionally opening up to others, especially when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. Perhaps it has something to do with the fear of being emotionally vulnerable, open, and completely honest about our true inner feelings—perhaps we just don’t want to be a burden.

Additionally, throughout history, many people with mental illness have been ostracized and subjugated as outcasts. As a result, some may choose to avoid seeking help as long as possible to elude being ridiculed by others or presumably looked down upon in some way. Furthermore, rather than scheduling an appointment to meet with a board-certified psychiatrist, many people find themselves self-medicating with mood-altering substances, such as drugs and alcohol to try and cope with their symptoms.[2]

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We all want to have a sound mind and body with the ability to function independently without having to depend on anyone—or, for that matter, anything else for help. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, you may just have to find the will and the way to reach out for help before the symptoms become unmanageable.

Lastly, although we may all have the ability to gain insight into any given situation, it’s almost impossible to maintain a completely objective point of view when it comes to identifying the depth and dimension of any of our own symptoms of mental illness given the fact that our perception of the problem may in fact be clouded by the very nature of the underlying illness itself. In other words, even though symptoms of mental illness may be present, you may be suffering from a disorder that actually impairs your ability to see them.

As a professional dual-diagnosis interventionist and a licensed psychotherapist with over two decades of experience working with people all over the world battling symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse—combined with my own personal insight into the subject, perhaps now more than ever—I am confident that you will appreciate learning how to recognize a variety of symptoms associated with some of the most common types of mental illness.

1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent flashbacks and nightmares associated with previously experienced or witnessed life-threatening or traumatic events.[3] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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  • recurrent and unwanted memories of an event
  • flashbacks to the event in “real-time”
  • nightmares involving the trauma
  • a physical reaction to an event that triggers traumatic memories
  • avoiding conversation related to the traumatic event
  • active avoidance of people, places, and things that trigger thoughts of the event
  • a sense of hopelessness
  • memory loss related to traumatic events
  • detached relationships
  • lack of interest in normal daily activities
  • feeling constantly guarded
  • feeling as if in constant danger
  • poor concentration
  • irritability
  • being easily startled
  • insomnia
  • substance abuse
  • engaging in dangerous behaviors

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent unwanted thoughts followed by urges to act on those thoughts repeatedly.[4] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • anxiety when an item is not in order or its correct position
  • recurrent and frequent doubt if doors have been locked
  • recurrent and frequent doubt if electronic devices and appliances have been turned off
  • recurrent and frequent fear of contamination by disease or poison
  • avoidance of social engagements with fear of touching others.
  • hand-washing
  • counting
  • checking
  • repetition of statements
  • positioning of items in strict order

3. Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a persistent depressed mood that impairs the ability to function. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

4. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that may be characterized by uncontrollable mood swings ranging from severe depression to extreme mania. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

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Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • easily distracted
  • racing thoughts
  • exaggerated euphoric sense of self-confidence
  • easily agitated
  • hyperverbal
  • markedly increased level of activity
  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

5. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a thought disorder characterized by a breakdown between beliefs, emotions, and behaviors caused by delusions and hallucinations.[5]  The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • delusions with false beliefs
  • hallucinations with a false sensory perception
  • disorganized thought with a meaningless unintelligible pattern of communication
  • disorganized behavior with catatonic appearance, bizarre posture, excessive agitation
  • flat affect
  • lack of eye contact
  • poor personal hygiene

6. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat and excessive exercise. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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  • extreme loss of weight
  • emaciated appearance
  • eroded teeth
  • thinning hair
  • dizziness
  • swollen extremities
  • dehydration
  • arrhythmia
  • irritated skin on knuckles
  • extreme food restriction
  • excessive exercise
  • self-induced vomiting
  • excessive fear of gaining weight
  • use of layered clothing to cover up body imperfections

7. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight due to a distorted body image where large amounts of food are consumed and then purged. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • consuming abnormally large amounts of food with the intent to purge
  • the constant fear of gaining weight
  • excessive exercising
  • excessive use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight
  • food restriction
  • shame and guilt

Final Thoughts

From bipolar disorder to bulimia, major depression to dysthymia, there is a mental health diagnosis to fit any combination of symptoms that you may be experiencing. There are also a variety of corresponding self-assessment tests circulating all over the internet for you to choose from.

However, if you are looking for a proper diagnosis, I strongly suggest that you make an appointment to meet with a well-trained mental health professional in your community for more comprehensive and conclusive findings. Similar to cancer, early detection and treatment may significantly improve the prognosis for recovery.[6] And like I said, it’s impossible to be completely objective when it comes to self-diagnosing the condition of your own mental health or that of a loved one.

Furthermore, although the corner pharmacy may have plenty of over-the-counter medications that claim to help you fall asleep faster and even stay asleep longer, at the end of the day, no medication can actually resolve the underlying issues that have been negatively impacting your ability to sleep in the first place.

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Just like in business—and in the immortal words of Thomas A. Edison—“there is no substitute for hard work.” So, try to set aside as much time as you can to work on improving your mental health. After all, you are your most influential advocate, and your mind is your greatest asset.

More Tips on Mental Wellness

Featured photo credit: Sydney Sims via unsplash.com

Reference

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