Meditation is primarily used to induce a deep set state of relaxation. There are many mediation techniques available to develop this.
A more relaxed mind helps with focus, concentration and can aid in reducing stress, so it has practical use in developing good health.
Learning and practising as many techniques as you can will help you develop, perhaps even master, the use of meditation alongside your other lifestyle and fitness goals.
We will cover three techniques on this page as a suggested combination to try out.
Most of us know about the use of a candle/flame to provide the focus, but the reality is that the aim of this technique is to avoid focusing on anything too intently. The aim is to get into the moment, alter one’s state and lose the chatter in one’s head. So the purpose of a focal point (like the flame, for example) is to provide a fixture, that you can ‘return’ to time and time again as your mind wanders. It is as if you are pulling everything towards one singular point instead of a chaotic set of variable points.
In that way the mind should calm, lose its distractions, and clear out. This allows for a new state to arise, which should be holistic, benefiting both mind and body. Use whatever focal point works best for you, it could be an object like a candle flame, your breath or a sound, even soothing music. Find somewhere quiet and start focusing, practising over time to improve this, so you can do it for longer and longer, deeper and deeper.
Progressive muscle meditation
This is a technique to help relax the muscles of the body and typically involves imagining waves of relaxation going throughout the body. To perform this, try sitting or lying (in a quiet spot), closing the eyes, and then working up or down the body, slowly. Start with the feet – if you are working upwards – and feel a wave of relaxation passing through them.
Then move up, into the ankles, lower legs, knees, upper legs, hips, waist, stomach, chest and so on. This can be reversed, obviously, if you working downwards. You can even work it both ways going up and then down, or the other way round. Plus, when you have done the individual parts, you could supplement this with total body waves imaging the relaxation flowing throughout in one big wave.
This involves a technique whereby you focus on a specific mantra, word or phrase by repeating it during meditation. Either silently or out loud. The mantra acts as the object of awareness, and should embed a feeling or conviction with you, if practised regularly. Deciding what mantra to use, or word or words, is key, as you want to alter your state. So some people like the vibrating sound ‘om’ which is known to work to help create the right feeling. Or you could choose suitable words, something like “I am fit and healthy”. Finding the right mantra/words is a very personal matter.