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Meditation is a centuries-old practice amongst many cultures and that has gained increasing popularity in Western society in recent years as a way to improve mental and emotional well-being. It involves focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity, in order to increase awareness, reduce stress, and promote relaxation. There are many types of meditation techniques, including mindfulness, guided meditation, and transcendental meditation. In this article, we will explore with you the benefits of meditation, different meditation techniques, and how to start a daily meditation practice as a beginner. The beauty of meditation is that you don’t need anything. It’s an opportunity to visit yourself; to come home and to be fully present which is essentially all we ever have in any given moment. The past is gone, the future not yet exists,; all we ever have is now.

Meditation Benefits
Meditation has been shown to have many mental and physical health benefits. Research has found that regular meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system. It can also increase focus and productivity, improve relationships, and help manage chronic pain.
  • Mindfulness meditation can help improve focus and productivity by increasing awareness and reducing distractions. By paying attention to the present moment, you can train your mind to be more present and less distracted by thoughts and emotions.
  • Regular mindfulness meditation practice can also help develop the ability to manage stress and emotions effectively as well as reducing symptoms associated with dis-ease such as depression. Our practice enables us to pause often and reflect before responding, as opposed to reacting to situations and daily challenges. 
  • The role of breathing in meditation is to help focus the mind and promote relaxation. By focusing on the breath, you can calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety. Breathing techniques such as deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing can also be used in meditation to enhance relaxation.
  • Regular meditation practice can help reduce the symptoms of certain conditions such as those listed above and helps improve overall mental and emotional well-being.

Meditation Techniques
There are many different types of meditation techniques, each with its own benefits and focus. Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to the present moment and observing thoughts without judgement. Guided meditation involves listening to a meditation teacher who provides prompts and guidance throughout the practice. Here are some of the techniques we enjoy practicing regularly so we invite you to try those which resonate with you: : 
  • Mindfulness Meditation: This technique involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. The goal is to become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise, and observe them without getting caught up in them. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase self-awareness.
  • Loving-Kindness Meditation: Also known as "metta" meditation, this technique involves cultivating feelings of love, kindness, and compassion towards oneself and others. This practice has been shown to improve emotional well-being, increase empathy and social connection, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Transcendental Meditation: This technique involves the use of a mantra, which is a word or phrase that is repeated silently to oneself. The goal is to enter a deep state of relaxation and transcendence, where the mind is free from thoughts and distractions. Transcendental meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve cognitive function.
  • Body Scan Meditation: This technique involves focusing on different parts of the body and noticing any sensations or tensions that arise. The goal is to become aware of the body and its sensations, and to release any physical tension or discomfort. Body scan meditation has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase body awareness.
  • Breath Awareness Meditation: This technique involves focusing on the breath and observing its rhythm and patterns. The goal is to calm the mind and bring awareness to the present moment. Breath awareness meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration, and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.

How to Start a Daily Meditation Practice as a Beginner
Starting a daily meditation practice can be intimidating for beginners. However, it is important to remember that meditation is a skill that can be developed over time. Start by setting aside a few minutes each day to meditate. Choose a quiet and comfortable location and try different types of meditation to find one that resonates with you. Using meditation apps or attending meditation classes or a retreat can also be helpful in developing a regular meditation practice. The main thing to remember is to be gentle on yourself, especially in the beginning and not to focus on how often you get distracted for each time you realise you have gotten lost in a thought that in itself is a present moment awareness, so simply come back…again…and again. 

Tips for Staying Focused During Meditation
Staying focused during meditation can be challenging, especially for beginners. Here are some tips to help you stay focused and avoid distractions during meditation:
  • Choose a quiet location: Find a quiet and comfortable place to meditate where you won't be interrupted by outside noise or distractions.
  • Set a timer: Set a timer for your meditation practice so you won't be distracted by thoughts of how long you've been meditating.
  • Focus on the dance of the breath: Bringing awareness to the movement of the body with the inhale as the lungs contract with the exhale. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
  • Use guided meditations: Guided meditations can be helpful for beginners who are struggling to stay focused. The facilitator provides guidance throughout the practice.
  • Be patient: Meditation is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Don't be hard on yourself or judgemental if you find it difficult to stay focused at first like a muscle it takes practice.

Misconceptions about Meditation
  • You have to clear your mind or stop thinking in order to meditate - It's impossible to clear the mind or stop thinking during meditation. The goal is to observe your thoughts without judgement and bring your attention back to your breath or a specific focal point. 
  • You have to be able to sit still for a long time to meditate - You don't have to sit still for a long time to meditate. Just a few minutes of meditation can be beneficial.
  • You need to be in complete silence in order to meditate - You can meditate in any environment, where it is quiet or nosey. With regular practice the mind becomes less distracted by the noise and more focused on its focal point.
  • Meditation is a way to escape reality or avoid dealing with your problems - Meditation is not a way to escape reality or avoid dealing with problems. On the contrary, it can help build mental resilience and improve the ability to cope with challenges.

Incorporating Meditation into Yoga Practice
Meditation and yoga are often practised together as they complement each other well and yoga in its own right is a form of physical movement meditation. Many yoga classes also include a short meditation practice at the beginning or end of the class. If you're interested in incorporating meditation into your yoga practice, here are some tips to get started:
  • Find a yoga studio that offers meditation classes or workshops.
  • Use a guided meditation app or video to practice at home.
  • Incorporate breathing exercises into your yoga practice, such as Ujjayi breathing, to help calm the mind and promote relaxation.
  • Mindfully move to the flow of each pose as you move through your class.
  • Set an intention for your yoga practice to help focus the mind and increase awareness.

Finding the Right Meditation Teacher 
In Australia, there is no specific government body that regulates meditation practitioners. However, there are various organisations and associations that provide training, certification, and accreditation for meditation teachers and practitioners. Some of these organisations include:
  • The Meditation Association of Australia (MA) can help you find a meditation practitioner.
  • The Meditation Society of Australia provides qualifications required by meditation practitioners and has a catalogue of practitioners to choose from.
  • These organisations set standards for meditation and mindfulness training and education, and promote ethical and professional standards for their members. It is important to note that while these organisations provide guidelines and standards, meditation is not a regulated health profession in Australia.
  • Bodhi Holistic Hub provides a some options for meditation practitioners, all carefully vetted and verified, giving you peace of mind that you’ll be in great hands through your meditation journey.

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