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What Is Meditation?



When we think about meditating (with a capital M) we can get hung up on thinking about our thoughts: we’re going to do something about what’s happening in our heads. It’s as if these bodies we have are just inconvenient sacks for our brains to lug around.

Having it all remain in your head, though, lacks a feeling of good old gravity. That approach can make it seem like floating, as though we don’t have to walk. We can just waft.

But meditation begins and ends in the body. It involves taking the time to pay attention to where we are and what’s going on, and that starts with being aware of our body. That very act can be calming, since our body has internal rhythms that help it relax if we give it a chance.

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How do I meditate?

Choose a comfortable spot to sit with spine upright. Sit against a wall or a straight-backed chair. You may have your legs folded under you or in another position that is comfortable for your body. If you already do some sort of seated yoga posture, feel free to do it. If you are sitting in a chair it’s best to have the bottoms of your feet touching the floor.

Straighten but don’t stiffen your upper body. There is natural alignment to the spine with the head and shoulders resting comfortably on top of the vertebrae. If a wall is helpful for support, feel free.

Let your hands drop into your lap or on top of your knees with your upper arms at your sides. Too far ahead will make you hunch so allow the posture of the spine to dictate where your hands fall.

Drop your chin a bit and let your gaze fall downward to an unmoving spot a few feet in front of you. You may close your eyes completely if you feel benefit from doing so, otherwise let your gaze soften as you focus on the unmoving spot in front of you.

Be there for a few moments and enjoy this stillness even if the brain is still churning out thoughts. Observe the thoughts that are occurring to you and see if you can focus your attention on your breath moving in and out of the body.

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Types of Meditation

These days, with the greater need to reduce stress in the midst of our busy schedules and demanding lives, meditation is increasing in popularity. Although there isn’t a right or wrong way to meditate, it’s important to find a practice that meets your needs and complements your personality.

There are several popular types of meditation practice. The following are seven of the more common practices:

  • mindfulness meditation

  • spiritual meditation

  • focused meditation

  • movement meditation

  • chanting meditation

  • transcendental meditation

  • visualization meditation

Not all meditation styles are right for everyone. These practices require different skills and mindsets. Learn which practice suits you best.

About PLAN

We are a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to future care planning for disabled adults due to mental illness. Incorporated in 1999, PLAN was formed by a group of families with disabled family members — mostly sons and daughters — concerned about who would care for their disabled dependents when they were no longer able to do so themselves.

PLAN of Central Ohio offers an activities program where clients can form friendships, practice social skills and just have fun. We meet two times a month, transporting clients to and from each activity. Our case manager/client ratio is approximately 1 to 5 to provide a safe, supervised outing. Our program includes casual dinners at inexpensive restaurants, outings to movies and trips to local places of interest. We have been able to continue our activities program in a safe, socially-distanced way, despite the COVID-19 epidemic. We also offer Zoom-based activities to meet the needs of those who do not wish to be out and about in these unprecedented times.

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