With modern life being stressful and exhausting for many, it’s imperative for people everywhere to press pause and take a moment to reboot. Improve your health and happiness by slowing down a bit and focusing on yourself. Meditation is widely applauded for its health benefits and its ability to reduce stress and improve brain function and overall wellbeing. I highly recommend silent meditation. Here are a few things you need to know:
1. Understanding silent meditation
Silent meditation is one of the earliest forms of introspection, dating back to at least 2,500 years ago. Also known as Vipassana, this ancient form of meditation follows the “life pulse” through focus on the breath. Found in all of nature, this life pulse moves in waves of expansion, contraction, and stasis within us through the breath. When we invite this continuum of life to flow within our breath, we can expand our awareness to see and comprehend the perfect imperfection in all life, including our own.
The expansive nature of our inhalation gathers the prana, the cosmic life force intertwining with the oxygen molecules from the cosmic and earthly realms. The contraction of our exhalation invites us to let go of what we no longer need to carry in life. The exhalation invites us to flow with greater alignment and peace and to ground and connect these molecules of life into our cells, our core, and to the earth. In the contraction, we are diving back into the depths of our being.
2. The main benefits
This practice is said to have originated over 2,500 years ago by Gotama Buddha and has been passed down in its purest form from teacher to teacher in India since then. It is designed to cleanse all mental impurities and to deepen harmony between mind and body. This universal, non-dogmatic teaching offers a spiritual approach to understand and accept all facets of our humanity and foster a balanced life focused on the tenets of love and compassion. It is through this practice we liberate our souls and cultivate a new calmness of mind and balanced emotions.
Current studies show a magnitude of health benefits ranging from bolstering immunity tosupporting brain health, cognitive function, and neuroplasticity. Meditation increases emotional resilience and increases focus and prolonged concentration. It allows us to explore our emotional triggers and habitual responses. It is through this practice we can visualize healthier ways of thinking, feeling, and increased emotional resilience. When we allow our body and mind to quiet, we can untangle our thought patterns and renew mental clarity.
Spiritually, meditation allows our energy and auric field to easily align and ground with the Earth. It’s here that we can find stillness in the chaotic world around us. Physical and emotional benefits are plentiful. Meditation calms the mind and offers greater mental clarity. Harnessing our thoughts and emotions creates empowered decisions.
3. How this practice differs from other forms of practice
Although all meditation is silent to a degree, in Vipassana there is no guide, no music, no external sound. It means to “see things as they are.” It invites a deeper understanding and acceptance of life and allows us to focus onlistening. The consistent cultivation of this practice invites us to explore and re-establish a deep sense of connection with ourselves to listen more attentively to our bodies, balance our emotional responses, and calm our overactive minds. The approach differs and yet the end goal and results will be similar. Your breath is your only guide. There is also a very clear lineage of this tradition, which lends a purity and energetic momentum to this meditation form.
4. Is silent meditation a good fit for everyone?
Everyone must find the type of meditation that suits them. Just like we all enjoy different types of cuisine, music and attire, there is a form of meditation that works for you. Be patient until you find what sets your mind and soul free. For those who are easily distracted, guided meditation can be a favorable choice, allowing the practitioner’s mind to follow the guide until they sink into deeper relaxation. If this is the case for you, starting with a consistent guided meditation practice and then peppering in some silent meditation could be the winning combination.
5. A step-by-step guide
Having a sacred space in which to consistently meditate creates a supportive structure for your practice. You can start by lighting a little incense or inhaling a pure essential oil to open your mind-body connection. Then start with five minutes daily of silent meditation. Invite in a calm and clear mind and focus on inhaling for 10 seconds, pause in stillness, and then exhale for 10 seconds. When a thought enters your mind, allow it to be as it is without changing it. Just as each phase of your breath changes, every circumstance and experience in life is impermanent. Bring your awareness back to your breath. Continue to work up to 20 minutes a day or longer up to 45 minutes.
Remember, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect to comprehend the entire universe in the first week. Take enough time to create or break a habit before you decide if this works for you. Over several weeks, keep a daily journal of your impressions after meditation and in the evening before bed. Notice if you are responding to experiences differently from an emotional perspective. Do you feel more clear and calm?
6. Advice on meditation coaches & guides
A meditation coach, or even practicing meditation in a group setting, can create the conditions for your practice, with confirmations on both the practical aspects of meditating and also some of the challenges that everyone faces in the beginning. Cultivating a consistent practice takes time; patience; and a deep commitment to yourself, care, and greater wellbeing.
My favorite method is guided meditations, which include visualizations to facilitate my intention anchoring into my mind, body, and consciousness. I also offer a weekly complimentary meditation in conjunction with the Barbara Brennan School of Healing. This is a form of guided meditation that individuals can join globally on Zoom.
Other resources for meditation that I personally recommend include:
It is important to note dhamma.org. offers 10-day intensives on Vipassana meditation, and these programs are complimentary. These techniques are passed down through a lineage of teachers dating back to Buddha 2,500 years ago.