As you sit comfortably in a cross-legged position to meditate, you focus on your breath, bringing your mind to the present moment.
You start wondering, “What should I do about all these thoughts?”
Well, there’s a big misconception related to meditation that it involves ‘stopping all your thoughts’. In reality, it's natural to have thoughts come and go during meditation, but it's important to understand that the goal is not to stop all thoughts.
If you’re wondering what to think about while meditating, then try to understand that meditation practice is about being aware of the wandering mind and letting the thoughts pass, allowing you to increase focus and control over them.
Keep in mind that it's not thinking itself that's the issue, but rather getting stuck in a pattern of thinking. The key is awareness of thoughts and allowing them to stay as they are, without taking any action right away.
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Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, you may find it quite tough to achieve a meditative state, especially if you’re a beginner. This is because your mind is so used to thinking all the time that stopping it can seem like a task.
There are different types of meditation and each involves different focal points or the points you need to focus on in order to bring back your attention to the present moment when your mind is wandering. The best way to do this? Experiment with different approaches and techniques in order to find out the one that resonates with you.
This is the most popular and widely-practiced form of meditation. Its main purpose is to focus the mind and bring attention to the present moment.
To get started with this form of meditation practice, find a comfortable place and sit or lie down, keeping your back straight.
Once you’re settled, start focusing on your breath. Take a deep inhale through your nose, filling your lungs with air, and then slowly exhale through your mouth. During the entire process, notice how the sensation of the breath feels as it enters and exits your body. Notice the coolness of the inhale and the warmth of the exhale.
As you continue to focus on your breath, it's likely that your mind will wander at times. Don’t worry, this is bound to happen. When you notice that your mind has wandered, simply acknowledge that thought and bring your attention back to your breath. This process of returning your attention to your breath is an essential aspect of the practice.
Also known as 'mindfulness meditation', this type of meditation involves focusing on the entire experience of being in the present moment without getting caught up in the worries related to past or future.
Once you’re settled, bring your attention to the focal point, in this case, the present moment. Notice everything in your experience- every sight, smell, sound and sensation.
By focusing on the present moment, you can reduce feelings of worry about the past or future, and instead cultivate a sense of peace and contentment in the here and now. You can also pay attention to your breath and the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits your body.
Even a few minutes of mindful meditation can be highly beneficial. The key is to not judge or get caught up in the thoughts or emotions that come up during the practice, but to simply acknowledge them and bring your attention back to the present moment.
This meditation practice focuses your attention on the physical sensations in your body, in order to become more aware of any tension, discomfort or pain.
Sit comfortably and take a few deep breaths. Thereafter, start with bringing your attention to the top of your head. Slowly move your awareness down through your body, noticing any sensations or areas of tension along the way.
When you reach the soles of your feet, change direction and slowly move your awareness back up your body. Pay closer attention to areas you might have missed on the way down this time. Don’t rush, take your time.
Don’t judge or get caught up in these sensations. If you find yourself getting stuck in any one area, gently bring your attention back to your breath, and continue the body scan.
This type of meditation will help you in letting go of unpleasant feelings and grudges against someone who has mistreated you or who you believe to have hurt you. Even though it can be challenging, it is incredibly powerful in helping to release negative emotions and promoting inner peace and healing.
Start with sitting straight and taking few deep breaths. Then, bring to your attention the person who has wronged you. Feel every emotion coming within be it anger, sadness, resentment or anything else.
It’s important to acknowledge that emotion but don’t dwell on it. Make a choice to let it go. You can visualize yourself throwing them away, sending them out in a balloon, or releasing them into the wind.
You don’t have to forget what happened or even contact this person, all you need to do is let go of the negative feelings. Understand that this may take some time and regular practice can help you overcome this.
Often referred to as "emotional self-awareness meditation”, this type of meditation helps you understand your emotions better and trace the emotions back to its cause.
Sit comfortably and take deep breaths. Bring your attention to your current emotional state. Ponder upon how exactly you are feeling right now- happy, sad, angry, anxious. Also notice the secondary or underlying emotions in order to fully understand the layers of your emotions.
At the same time, ask yourself, what triggered that emotion? It could be a person, an event or a situation. Also, it is possible that your emotions are triggered unconsciously which may make it difficult for you to understand the actual root-cause.
Ensure that you’re looking at every emotional trigger with compassion and curiosity without any sort of judgement or self criticism. This is an important step in the process of emotional self-awareness and self-care.
Mantra meditation involves the repetition of a word or phrase, so as to quiet your mind and focus it on the present moment.
You know the drill- Sit down, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Next, pick a word or phrase that strikes a chord with you. It might be a word that describes an objective or a quality you wish to develop. It might be a word like "joy," "peace," "love," or "calm."
Once you’ve chosen the mantra, start repeating it to yourself, be it verbally or mentally. Do this with every breath.
When your mind starts wandering, acknowledge that thought and bring your attention back to the mantra. Over a period of time, this focal point will start to add a new meaning to your life by helping you set intentions and achieve goals.
For this type of music, put on a piece of soothing music that you like, it could be classical, instrumental or any other genre that you find relaxing.
Once it starts playing, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Now, bring your entire attention to the music- notice the lyrics, beats, instruments involved and different components that make up the music.
Without criticising or attempting to alter the feelings, let the music flow through your body and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Allow yourself to be fully immersed in the music and let it consume you.
You can practice it for as long as you like. It will help you get a deeper sense of relaxation and also reduce stress, improve sleep and act as a source of inspiration for creativity.
Also known as ‘eating meditation’, this focal point involves enjoying the experience of eating- savoring every bite and being mindful of the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food. This helps you enjoy the meal to the fullest and also get a greater sense of your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
Pick a place free of distractions. Start eating and notice every small detail of the meal. Take small bites and savor each one by chewing your food slowly.
Pay attention to your body's signals of hunger and fullness as you consume. Prior to eating, pay attention to how hungry you feel, as well as how full you feel when you begin to feel satisfied. By being more aware of your body's cues, you can prevent overeating and eating when you're not actually hungry.
Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the experience of mindful eating. Avoid multitasking or checking your phone in this process.
Level Supermind has tons of guided meditations with different focal points to help you achieve a meditative state:
Breathwork: Apart from meditations focused on breath, Level has a segregated category named ‘Breathwork’ in the mind category to help you relax, focus, de-stress, energize and sleep.
Relaxing full body scan: Feeling exhausted? Hope on to his meditation to let go of tension and recharge yourself.
Eat mindfully: Learn to make healthy lifestyle choices with mindful eating and foster feelings of gratitude within yourself.