According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “to meditate is to engage in contemplation or reflection; to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing, an object, or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” You can use meditation to increase awareness of your physical self, your emotional self, your surroundings and your mental patterns.

Meditation is the act of focusing your mind in order to teach yourself to become less reactive to its never ending fluctuations. Meditation is a mental reprogramming technique in which you habitually train your mind to redirect your thoughts and refocus them in order to have more mental stability and clarity. Meditation is the process of achieving mental clarity and emotional calm by mindfully training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts on a particular word, thought, object or activity.

There’s scientific evidence showing how meditation works. In people who are meditating, brain MRI scans have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate. Studies conducted on Buddhist monks showed that meditation produces long-lasting changes in the activity of the brain in areas related to attention, memory and conscious perception.

Many individuals choose to incorporate meditation into their lives as a way to reduce stress, increase well-being and improve their concentration. But… What do you actually do while you are meditating? What does Meditation actually mean? What exactly are you reflecting on? What are you watching within? What is the purpose of this contemplation? and How do I know when I get to where I am supposed to be?

The heart of meditation is soothing power of repetition is at the heart of meditation. According to Stan Chapman, PhD, psychologist at the Center for Pain Medicine of Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, “Meditation is not difficult to learn, but like tennis, it’s a skill. You need to practice. In time, people develop the ability to produce these meditative, very relaxed states very quickly. When they meditate several times during the day, they become more relaxed during the entire day.”

Understanding the various forms of meditation can assist you in making a more educated choice when it comes to adapting the meditation that is more appropriate for certain goals you would like to achieve. When picking a style of meditation to incorporate into your life, When you understand your life’s pace, work structure, home environment and surroundings you can decide which practice is more accessible for you to incorporate into your life. If your usual life condition does not allow you have consistent quiet alone time, you might want to consider joining a led meditation class that you can schedule in your day. You would include this on your schedule, much like you would a meeting. Also, finding a supportive community can also improve your chances of adopting a successful meditation practice.

Practicing meditation helps you to slow your breath, quiet your mind, and find peace. It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, or the branch of your peripheral nervous system that helps your body return to a calm, relaxed state after the threat of danger, or even daily stress, has passed.  Other benefits include the ability to understand of your feelings more objectively and the ability to develop feelings that assist you in creating a positive outlook of life’s situations; helping you break unhealthy habits of emotional responses associated with external situations from the situations themselves.

When your thoughts are repeating past occurrences, aiming to predict future occurrences, or are thoughts holding you back from taking steps in your life based on fear or self-doubt; you can be aware of the patterns of your thoughts and allow you steer them to a more constructive path. Many teachings and religions focus on the philosophy of “know yourself”, meditation can be the starting point understanding who you are, what you wish to improve and what your path is to creating positive changes in your life.