Know thyself: Meditation

In the quest to know yourself better, there are things you can do to help out.  It is not as easy as it sounds, this “know thyself”!  The first requisite is to have some quiet time to really feel yourself deeply, not in the passing, but in essence.  One of the tools that help you do that is meditation.

Meditation is basically a method to quiet down the mind of it’s daily preoccupations so you can listen to yourself, your thoughts and emotions, and feel your body more clearly.  There are many different techniques and ultimately the best is the one that works for you.  Here are some types of meditation you can try:

  1. Meditation in movement: a quiet walk in nature, a yoga class, tai chi, chi kung and even rythmic repetitive dancing (to wordless rhythmic music).  Also handicrafts which don’t involve much thinking count, like drawing mandalas, knitting and playing an instument, are all ways to tune into your body through movement.  Some of them also count as exercise, so that’s a plus!
  2. Meditation with sound: Mantras, prayers, chants, listening to music can also help to focus the mind and give you a chance for quiet time.  This kind of meditation works wonders if you have difficulty calming your thoughts but you are too tired to do anything active.  You can just sit or lie down comfortably with any of these methods while your mind has to pay attention to the chant or prayer.
  3. Guided meditation:  There are many guided meditations available.  They use imagery and description to engage the mind and take it away from it’s routine.  If you have the time and like to lie quietly just listening, this may be the way to go for you.  They are easily and readily available in the internet, some of them even combine sound and images.  The way to choose one is lisening and watching if it makes you feel relaxed and good, if the voice and music are agrreable to you, and if the lenghth is right.
  4. Object meditation:  There are also other techniques that have you focus on an object.  These are contemplative mediations.  It can be an image, like a mandala, an inspiring landscape, or a religious image that you find meaning in.  It can also be a candle, a fountain or your favourite painting.  The trick is chosing something to concentrate on.  If you are not very visual, these may not work for you.
  5. Quiet meditation: This is probably the hardest because of it’s simplicity.  It can also be the deepest if you master it.  It involves sitting comfortably while relaxing, focusing on the breath and letting all thoughts drift by and go, without engaging in them, watching all your thought and emotional processes from the witness stand point, as if you were watching a movie, detached but aware in the present moment, (progressive relaxation, Vipassana).