Is it necessary and why?

Meditation can be best described as, “A family of complex emotional and attentional regulatory training regimes developed for various ends, including the cultivation of well-being and emotional balance.”

It always sounds so simple and so promising; but when we’re all pressed to perform on the money-train devoutly driving western society, it’s hard to find and take the time to dedicate to ourselves, independent of outside expectations.

Yet for this very reason, the driving pressures, fast-paced performance and constant concerns that come with our way of living, we could desperately do with any opportunity that might cultivate ‘well-being and emotional balance.’

At the very least, meditation at its most basic level, can offer a calm mind.

If we consider tracking our thought-process just for a few minutes, we’d quickly notice how frequently we jump from one thought to another, diverted and distracted almost simultaneously. We are continually bombarded with stimuli every second of our waking hours. Even sleeping involves dreaming, and with our limited understanding this too is the processing of the thought and stimuli we experience when awake.

With a calm mind, at best we can aspire to better control our thoughts for better use. Science is beginning to explore connections in cognitive processes of sustained focus of attention with those cognitive processes produced by meditative practices. Achieving a ‘laser focus’ will enable us to make better decisions in our lives.

So here we’ve selected a few tips on how best to successfully meditate:

General advice suggests that it’s best to practise meditation in the morning when our brain is still in what’s called ‘the alpha wave stage,’ this is before the onset of the day when we become affected by the commotions of daily life. In order to get good results we need to shut out our senses, (as realistically as possible). Start with closing the eyes to shut out any visual distractions; sit in a quiet environment and switch off mobile phones and any other electronic devices that may be distracting; finally, adopt a comfortable position, again to lessen the possibility of distraction. Now all we need do is concentrate on our breathing. There’s nothing else to it! As we concentrate on our breathing it’s inevitable that we’ll experience fleeting thoughts about all sorts of things; the key is to acknowledge those thoughts as fleeting and re-focus our attention towards our breathing: consider these thoughts as passing clouds and watch them float by without any judgement or attention to them.

Meditating requires practise: we can begin by meditating for a short period of time, say two minutes, and gradually increase this period as we become more accustomed to it. The benefits are widely acknowledged: as well as the immediate benefit of a literal ‘breather’ and space to generate a calm mind, the long term effects suggest a calmer approach all together, less stress, increased energy and the ability to evoke calmness in a difficult situation. With a calm mind we can strive for clarity and rely on our own guidance and our own intuition, impervious to outside influence.

Lutz et. al; Slagter, HA; Dunne, JD; Davidson, RJ (2008). “Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation” [20.01.15,].