Answers to your burning questions
When I first began to meditate, I was often asked a variety of questions by interested folks seeking guidance and reassurance.
In this article, I answer some of the common questions about meditation that arise from novices.
How much meditation per day?
This is a big question. I used to sit two hours daily of Vipassana meditation. As an old student, that’s an optimum number of hours to meditate, for beginners, it’s perhaps a little too much.
For new students seeking to cultivate a meditation practice, I would suggest that a few minutes of conscious breathing or a 10 minute guided meditation would be a great place to start.
How much meditation is enough?
In the life of a busy sales executive, five minutes in the car before a meeting is enough meditation. For a stay at home parent, perhaps thirty minutes is possible.
In the same way, how we satiate our hunger is a personal choice and physiological requirement, so too is the amount of meditation we consider to be enough.
Once established in a regular meditation or mindfulness practice, the benefits will start to manifest and the desire to commit more time to the technique will arise.
Which meditation is best?
There are many types of meditation. Each has merit and benefit in its own right. I practice Vipassana meditation which focuses on the awareness of breath and sensations through the body.
Trancendental meditation uses mantra as the focus of awareness to sharpen the senses and to elevate mood. Walking meditation focuses attention on each step.
There is no ‘best’ meditation technique except the one that works for you. These mindfulness actvities are a great place to start your meditation journey.
Will meditation help me focus?
Absolutely. Meditation is a practice of awareness. Often called a presence practice because it focuses attention on the present moment.
A regular meditation practice will sharpen the mind, clarify your thoughts and focus your energy on the important aspects of your life.
Why meditation is difficult?
Meditation is difficult because it requires sustained concentration on a single point of focus. Our busy lives expose us to many distractions each day and the brain loves to be stimulated in this way.
However, the mind also needs to rest, away from the intensity and noise of modern living. This is the hard bit. Mind craves new information and becomes addicted to the stimulation of novelty. This is one of the reasons why smartphones are so challenging for us.
Denying the mind access to constant new data streams means it has to go ‘cold turkey’. Once we rest in awareness of the present moment we have to face our true feelings. And processing our emotions can be challenging. That’s why meditation can feel difficult.
Can meditation cure overthinking?
Yes. A regular meditation practice will help to cure overthinking. Meditation allows us to watch the thoughts as they arise and watch them pass out of our awareness.
Learning to meditate is one of the surest ways to alleviate the curse of overthinking. Simple anapana meditation is a great place to start for the overstimulated analytical mind.
Can meditation increase height?
Yes. Once you learn to sit correctly in lotus position you will feel taller and more present in life. While you may not physiclaly grow in height, you will feel taller as a result of improved posture.
How does meditation help us?
Meditation helps us to live with presence and awareness. These two qualities are the primary enablers for a radically better life. A regular meditation practice helps to transform old habits and thought patterns.
Meditation is the first step to creating the life we wish to live. I’ve become a better person since I began to meditate. I have more personal freedom, stronger boundaries and improved discipline.
Which meditation is good for the brain?
All meditation is good for the brain. Unless, in some cases it is bad for you – see below!
Why meditation is bad
Meditation can be bad for you. It can mirror the spiral of depression. This is a rare but not impossible outcome. Because meditation highlights our negative actions its possible to become fixated on them.
Intensive meditation can lead to feelings of isolation. It can change the way we relate to the world, our work and ourselves. These effects are at the extreme end of probabilty and usualy as a result of unsupported or lacking aftercare following a retreat.
Why meditation is important in our life
Despite the potential drawbacks (which are rare), there is much to be thankful for. Meditation is an important tool in our life becuase it can enhance our creativity, improve our self-awareness and generally make us better human beings.
Try my mindfulness guide for the frazzled to fit in a regular mindfulness or meditation practice into your day.