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Meditation Techniques

Developing a sense of spiritual strength and peacefulness.

Meditation is an important aspect of yoga that can strengthen the union of your mind, body and spirit. Meditation provides you with an opportunity to sit still, clear your mind of all thoughts and fully relax your body.
The practice of meditation may also help you develop a sense of spiritual strength and peacefulness. Although meditation involves a spiritual element, yoga is not a religion or religious practice.
You should meditate every day, starting with 5 minute sessions and working up to 20 or 30 minutes.
Preparing for Meditation
To help you stay focused as you meditate, you should create an environment that is quiet and free from distractions. Also, try to practice at the same time every day, which can help you make your meditation practice a habit.
The position in which you sit is also important for helping you stay focused during your meditation practice. Sit cross-legged, always making sure your spine is upright and straight. You can either sit on the floor, on a straight-backed chair or on a meditation cushion. A meditation cushion is a pillow that is designed to help you sit straight and comfortably as you meditate.
You can meditate with your eyes closed or open, whichever you find helps you stay focused. Just make sure that your eyes remain relaxed at all times.
Follow Your Breath
Focusing on your breath can help you meditate. If you find your mind wanders while meditating, try to bring your attention back to your breath. It may also be helpful to use techniques that remind you to follow your breath. For example, you can mentally say "inhale" on each inhalation and "exhale" on each exhalation. You could also count your breaths by mentally saying "inhale one, exhale two ..." and so on.
Use a Mantra
A mantra is a meditation technique in which you repeat a word, such as "love," "peace," or "om" as you meditate. You can either repeat the word aloud or silently in your mind.
How to Meditate on Breath
Remember that the purpose of any meditative technique is to take your mind off potentially distracting thoughts. Contentrate on the breathing, and prevent any other thoughts or distractions from entering your mind.
Time your breaths
Exhale and then slowly inhale until your lungs feel full. Count the seconds and then try to take the same amount of time to exhale. The length of time will depend on your lung capacity but you should generally try to breathe slowly. Continue breathing on this number of seconds. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
(For a slower, more relaxing meditation, try the 4-7-8 exercise. Exhale, then close your mouth and inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for 7 seven seconds, and exhale over the course of 8 seconds.)
Hold your breath in for 2 seconds
Focus on the curve of your breath. The curve is part where you change from inhaling to exhaling and vice versa. Try not to curve your breath too quickly. It may help to add a 2 second waiting period between when your lungs are full and when they are empty to slow down your curve.
Focus on your muscle reaction
Focus your mind on how parts of your body react to your breathing. Feel your diaphragm, throat muscles, and shoulders shift as you inhale and exhale to occupy your mind. This should not be a painful strain but you should feel your muscles stretching in these areas. If may help to place your hand on your diaphragm so you can feel the muscle reaction.
(You can also focus on the relaxed parts of your body. Leave your hands and arms in a comfortable pose that doesn't require you work any of their muscles and keep your mind focused there.)
Redirect your wandering mind
Think of a word or phrase like "breathe" to repeat to yourself when you catch your mind wandering. Accept that this is natural and don't give up if you're struggling to stay focused. Remember that you should be concentrating on your breathing pattern.
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