When many people think of meditation, they picture someone in a seated position who is making some sort of humming sound in a sustained manner. Indeed, that is how some forms of meditation will look from the outside. However, it is important to note that the majority of what meditation is will occur internally for the person who is engaged with it at the time. It makes sense that meditation is going to appear to be a fairly modest exercise from the outside. All of the interesting and groundbreaking stuff is going on inside of the heads of the practitioners, so it doesn’t translate very well to the physical or the visual world.
Meditation is all about directing one’s attention and one’s thoughts. The humming and the other vocal exercises that people will usually perform during their meditation practices will typically be devices that are used to help center the minds of the practitioners in question. The seated position that people will usually adopt during meditation allows people to focus entirely on their thoughts and their breathing, since their bodies will remain in that one relaxed position consistently.
Some of the other traits associated with meditation are going to relate to different religious or spiritual traditions. For instance, many Eastern religions or Eastern philosophies focus on the importance of being centered emotionally and mentally, the seated positions that people are supposed to adopt during meditation are supposed to encourage that particular state. Some secular people will adopt those positions anyway out of a sense of familiarity, and because the positions will work just as well one way or another.
During meditation, people will spend a lot of time focusing on their breath and their breathing patterns in general. This is also partly a matter of people trying to center themselves during the meditation process. Focusing on one’s breath direct’s one’s focus inward, which can make all the difference for the people who are used to focusing on what is going on around them at the exclusion of everything that is happening internally at each passing moment.
Many people try meditation in order to live in the moment and appreciate the present. The people who manage to accomplish that are automatically going to relieve themselves of a great deal of stress. Contemplating the future is exceedingly stressful. People will worry about what they should be doing now in order to ensure that they will experience anything resembling a favorable future.
Worrying about the past, in some ways, is even more stressful. People can’t do anything about the past. They have to live with the consequences of it every single day, and it’s something that they cannot control. Meditation pulls people out of the past, since they are going to be making an effort to avoid accessing their memories when they are engaged in meditation. Meditation pulls people out of the future that hasn’t happened yet as well, since it pulls people out of the parts of their brains that are always engaged in planning. Living in the present and being mindful of what is happening now is often the best way to truly relieve stress. The people who engage in meditation are partly learning how to truly exist in the present, and they are using a wide range of techniques in order to get to that point.