May 112010

Meditation has been used for centuries by people to improve their well-being, and deepen their perception of the world around them. Its benefits are very real, and it can be really useful for making your life better and overcoming your greatest difficulties – but it can also be very hard to master. Meditation requires, above all, patience – if you’re not prepared to be patient with your own body’s quirks, you shouldn’t expect to make much progress in meditation at all. You’ll be hindered by some things in your mind initially, but as you get better and overcome them, you’ll find that it’s all really worth it.

Most types of meditation involve imagining something. The specific theme varies from technique to technique, but there are several ones which you’ll find mentioned and used a lot more commonly than the others. The first and probably most popular is called the Oak Tree Meditation – to perform it, you need to sit down, resting your arms by your body. Afterwards, close your eyes and begin breathing deeply. Your breathing should be as slow and relaxed as possible.

Then, you’ll need to let your imagination kick in and envision your body as an oak tree – a large, powerful one with deep roots and strong, heavy branches. Keep telling yourself that your body is as solid as the tree’s trunk, try to feel the roots going into the ground from your body. The result of this meditation should make you feel really strong and “unbreakable,” you’ll feel you’re able to deal with any stressful situation.

There’s also a technique that involves “shrinking” your problems. Again, a lot of imagination will be required here. Sit down – or better yet, lie down – and make yourself comfortable. You should then try to focus on the one thing that’s been a primary cause of stress for you lately – it can be a person, an object, a memory, even a feeling – whatever it is, try to envision it, see it clearly before you. Question yourself about specific details in it so that the picture becomes even clearer.

After you’ve began to clearly see your problem, imagine it shrinking down, more and more. Don’t do it too quickly or you’ll ruin the illusion and your mind won’t follow up on the imagination’s product – but see the stress causer begin to get smaller and smaller, until it eventually fits into your hand. From then, continue seeing it shrink. In the end, you should see it fit on the tip of your finger, and then it’ll get even smaller and simply disappear. The feelings this will produce in you will be mixed between feeling eased and relaxed, but also slightly amused at the sight of the cause of your stress going away like that. Psychologically, the technique instills a sense that your problems aren’t as big as they seem, and can be defeated easily if you just look at them a bit more calmly.

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