Less stress. More sleep at night. A way to control pain. Increased chi—or life force energy—in your emotional, physical, and spiritual spheres. People dream of more balance in all of these areas of life, and there is one powerful habit you can develop to obtain this balance in your health: MEDITATION.
And there's a sort-of language that goes along with meditation. This quick guide will help you talk-the-talk so you can more easily walk-the-walk...
Fundamental terms of meditation.
Meditation is proven to help with a wide variety of issues, from anxiety to high blood pressure. It may seem overwhelming, but getting started with meditation can be exciting and even simple, if you understand the basic premises.
This A-Z guide for meditation terms will help you prepare for your initial steps into establishing a meaningful and personal meditation practice that can improve nearly every area of your life. Get ready to discover your chi! Use these words to help you embrace this new investment in your mental and emotional health.
ACCEPTANCE in meditation is the practice of perceiving your situations, without judging them as good or bad. This doesn’t mean that you give up on improving or progressing, but rather that you understand and acknowledge where you are, moment to moment. Using meditation to practice accepting yourself and your experiences is proven to reduce stress reactivity.
BREATHING is one area of focus that many meditation experts recommend placing your attention around, especially as you begin a regular practice. The type of breath, the depth, and the length are all things you can focus on as you meditate. Research suggests that focusing on breathing can help your brain. The way we breathe actually affects the chemistry of our brains, improving brain health.
CHI is the life-force that flows inside of your physical body, nourishing your cells and organs. It is central to your health, vitality, and wellness. Meditation is the most effective way to allow Chi to flow freely through your body. Research shows that focusing on your Chi while meditating can help with mental and physical ailments.
DISTRACTIONS...our lives are often hectic and overcrowded—filled with distractions that can prevent us from finding important moments of peace in order to mend our minds. From smart phone technology that has us always receiving more information, to the fast pace of our modern life, distractions are unavoidable. Research shows that these constant distractions can lead to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Solution: Commit to a daily meditation in order to reserve space in your life to find some quiet, and give your mind a break from the TMI status of our lives.
EXHALE. Inhaling and exhaling are important parts of meditation and mindfulness—they are directly connected to breathing. Getting oxygen through your body is crucial for good blood flow, stronger muscles, and healthy brain activity. The exhale part of breathing in meditation is all about removing the negativity from your body, and from your life.
Exercise: As you meditate, notice the release and relief that comes with each thoughtful exhale.
FULLNESS is a glorious side effect of a regular meditation practice! Meditation is all about helping you achieve fullness and satisfaction in your life. Filling your life with things you love will help you feel full and complete, adding happiness to your being.
One of the main ways meditation helps you feel fullness is by helping you focus on breathing in a deep and mindful manner. Filling your physical body with breath is symbolic of making space in your life and mind for peace.
GRATITUDE is so valuable to your mental health, so adding gratitude to your meditation will enhance your practice and transform your attitude. Meditation is an ideal time to focus on gratitude as you quiet your mind and reduce stress from your life. Gratitude begins with yourself—being grateful for what you have, even circumstances that aren't ideal. After that, you'll see a ripple effect, as gratitude begins to have positive effects on your overall state of mind and being.
HOLISTIC: meaning the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only because of the whole. Basically, the idea of holistic medicine and meditation is that all the parts of your body and mind are interconnected, and by treating one part, you’re treating the whole. Holistic meditation allows you to work on all the interconnected pieces of your physical and emotional health at the same time.
INTROSPECTION is the process of self-examination of your own mental and emotional processes. Meditation is an ideal time for introspection as you are focusing on your body and mind and their connection. Meditation can help you relax your brain and really evaluate how you are doing, deep down. Utilizing your meditation time as a time for introspection can help you have a more meaningful practice.
JOY is a proven benefit of meditation. Research shows that meditation can actually bring more joy and happiness to your life. Many people who regularly practice meditation not only report less stress and anxiety, but more joy and fullness in their life. If you’re searching for ways to increase your happiness, meditation may be a good place to start.
KINETIC meditation is meditation that focuses on movement as part of your practice. Tai Chi, mindful walking, and Qigong are perfect examples of kinetic meditation. Focusing on movement and your breath within that movement is a relaxation method that helps you connect your mind and physical body.
LIGHT and meditation are connected several ways. Often people who practice meditation feel lighter as they practice, almost as if the weight they carry during the day fades away while they meditate. Thinking about light and projecting light is a beneficial way to exude positivity as you practice meditation. Focusing on the light will help you feel happier, and can bring relaxation and reduce stress while you practice.
MANTRAS are a tool you can use during meditation. Mantras can give your wandering mind a focal point. Allowing your mind a word or phrase to focus on can deepen your practice. Mantras can be a word or sound, like the popular “om” that many people use. Or a mantra can be a phrase that you want to repeat to yourself, and engrain in your mind and heart. A phrase about yourself, a truth you need to instill in your mind, or an idea you want to build on are all good options for creating a mantra during your meditation.
NON-JUDGMENT is essential in meditation. You are supposed to accept who you are and how you are. As you focus and connect your mind and body, you come to understand and accept yourself. It’s crucial in meditation that you practice non-judgment so you can accept yourself and your emotions as they are. This state is often what helps people reduce anxiety and stress as part of their meditation.
OXYGENATION is a by-product of the intentional deep breathing that meditation employs. As you focus on your breathing, rich oxygen begins flowing more fully through your entire body. Studies show that meditation increases oxygenation throughout your body, and leads to positive cardiovascular and respiratory responses. As you learn how to breathe deeply, you’re going to increase oxygen and blood flow through your body, leading to better health.
PURPOSE. Meditation helps many people find peace and purpose in their life. Some people go into meditation with a specific goal or purpose in mind; they want to lower their anxiety, relieve pain, or reach a peaceful emotional state. Others choose to meditate to find their larger purpose in life. Whichever is the case for you, meditation has helped thousands of people achieve their goals.
QUIET and peace are essential to help get into a deep meditative state. You will only be able to hear your thoughts and listen to your body in quiet. Some people enjoy soft music or white noise as they meditate, while others prefer silence. Either way, a quiet mental state and a place free from distractions will help you create a meditation practice that is beneficial.
RELAXATION. Studies show that meditation is an effective relaxation method, that can lead to health benefits. There are a variety of health problems connected to stress, including anxiety, insomnia, labor pain, chemotherapy side effects, joint dysfunction, chronic pain, and more. Using meditation as a relaxation method helps create positive health outcomes for many individuals.
SILENCE. Many people enjoy practicing meditation in absolute silence. The silence allows them to listen to their body and hear their own thoughts. Silence can also help you become acutely aware of small shifts in your body, and in your surroundings. Meditating in silence can help you hone your listening and understanding capabilities.
TEA of any type has similar health benefits to meditation. From reducing stress and anxiety, to increasing heart and respiratory health, different drinks can help you as you meditate. Determine which kind of tea you enjoy and include a drink with your meditation routine, to help you relax and prepare for meditation.
UNDERSTANDING is a big part of meditation—specifically, increasing your understanding of yourself, your body, and your mind. The goal of meditation is to come to understand your situation, and how you can improve your life. As you take a non-judgmental view of yourself, your choices, and your situations, you’ll be better able to understand the decisions you make, and the way you should pursue your future.
VIBRATIONS, or tremors in your body, are often experienced as part of meditation or yoga. Pushing your muscles to new limits by sitting in new positions or stretches causes you to feel these vibrations. Many people who meditate use these tremors to help them understand and connect with their body.
WISDOM is a spiritual path that functions to release our mind from delusions or their imprints. An example of wisdom is the correct view of emptiness. There are many paths of wisdom you can focus on during your meditation that will help you come to a deeper practice, and better understanding of your life.
X ...well, we aren’t just making things up, and there actually aren’t any words associated with meditation that begin with X.
Instead: Take another deep, cleansing breath and then exhale audibly and powerfully. Feels so good...
YOURSELF. Meditation is all about focusing about yourself and where you are in your life. You should do meditation in whatever way works best for you, and helps you feel whole and complete. As you spend time connecting to your body and your emotions, you will know yourself on a completely new level.
Exercise: What is your why for creating a habit of meditation? Identify it, remember it, repeat it as a mantra. This will help you reinforce your intentions, your purpose, and the value of adding meditation to your daily life.
ZEN is a state of calm, where your actions are guided by intuition instead of effort. Meditation can help you achieve this state of zen where you are comfortable making decisions based on your gut. As you bring calm and quiet into your mind, you’ll be able to go to a new level of understanding within yourself. A zen state.
What you'll want for great meditation.
Meditation is a practice that brings your mind, body, and behavior together, and helps you focus on their interactions and the changes they can bring to your life. While there are many types of meditation, there are certain practices that are common to help you achieve your goals.
Most meditation practices aim to include the following:
- A quiet location with as few distractions as possible.
- A specific comfortable posture such as lying down, walking, sitting, and more.
- A focus of attention such as a specific word, a set of words or mantra, an object, or breath sensations.
- An open attitude, letting distractions come and go without judging them.
These four elements of meditation are the most vital components that will help you establish and maintain a practice.
Preparing for a purposeful meditation session.
Choose a few of these meditation terms together to build a micro-story for your meditation practice—something that helps you identify why you're making this investment. This exercise may help remind you what you’re trying to accomplish, without getting overwhelmed at the idea of what meditation should be.
For example, AGE: Acceptance + Gratitude + Exhale should remind you how to practice meditation without getting frustrated by:
- accepting the thoughts that come to mind
- showing gratitude for those thoughts
- then exhaling to let them go.
Build your word or your acronym, write it on a postcard or sticky note, and put it where it will help you remain accountable to yourself—to help you make time for a daily meditation. Maybe it becomes a mantra for your practice. Either way, pin this meditation alphabet reference as a tool for your developing habit of daily meditation.