Does a Meditative State Really Exist?

A meditative state absolutely exists. No, it doesn’t mean sitting crisscross applesauce, levitating 6 inches off the ground while repeating “Ohm.” It is a state of mind that you should try to put yourself in every day.

An old man reaching a meditative state

How do you make something meditative?

Buddhist traditions describe meditation as taking control of our personal state of mind. In our meditative practice we are learning about how our mind works. In order to make something meditative, we must be deliberately working on understanding and controlling our mind.

An example of this is setting aside a 15 minute period to practice mindfulness meditation and focus on the present moment.

  • Sitting and watching TV for an hour straight: NOT Meditative

  • Sitting with no distractions for 15 minutes to focus attention on mindfulness: Meditative ✔️

The key to making something meditative is your intention.

A lazy person laying on the couch.

Understanding the basics of meditative states

Now that we know how to make something meditative, let’s take a closer look at what really makes a meditative state.

An Example of a Meditative State

Imagine two people sitting at a beach, enjoying the waves crashing into the sand. One person is thinking, “Oh, my friends would love to see the ocean! I’m going to take pictures so I can post on Facebook later! The plane ride here was actually very smooth!” This person is in a state of monkey mind as their thoughts jump from one place to another.

Meanwhile, the other person is fixated in the present moment. They are solely focused in one thought, enjoying the beauty of the waves crashing into the beach. They are fully absorbed in the sight and sound of the ocean and its beauty.

The second person in this example is in a meditative state.

A person at the beach, paying attention to the waves crashing.

What are the different states of meditation?

Depending on who you ask, there can be tens if not hundreds of states of meditation. You can generally break all of these states into four broad categories. These are the four states of consciousness:

Random Thinking

This is the opposite of true meditation. Random thinking is the state of meditation in which the mind wanders freely. In this state of mind, there is no focus on breath or the state of the body.

Generally, this is people’s baseline state of consciousness. This state of mind allows negative thoughts to come and go. Random thinking is the state of meditation in which stress generally builds up.

Non-meditative Focusing

Non-meditative focusing is a meditative state where a person focuses their attention on something, but are not trying to meditate. A couple examples of this are getting really into a game, or working intently on a hobby.

Even though this is not technically meditating, it is still a more relaxed state than the random thinking mind. This is a vital state of consciousness and can be considered just as important as a meditative state.

Non-meditative focusing can reduce stress and bring mindfulness. This is true even if you are not actively focusing on meditating.

Focused Meditation

Focused meditation involves complete focus on one object. This object can be anything, from your own body or breath to a crystal that you are fond of.

Once you become good at object focusing, you can shift your focus to emotions and feelings. If your focus is on love or kindness, you can reflect on how these feelings enter and exit your life. This allows you to become more in touch with your meditative mind.

Focused meditation a critical skill for better mental health and several physical health benefits. It is also a prerequisite for the next state of meditation, which is complete meditation.

Complete Meditation

Complete meditation is the state of consciousness in which you are one with the object you are focused on. Similar to focused meditation, complete meditation involves a single focal point. Complete meditation takes things a step further as the meditator becomes one with the object they are focused on.

This is an extremely difficult meditative state to reach. You must first master focused meditation and dedicate hours to daily meditation sessions. It also calls for master breath control and an abundance of creative visualization.

Not many novices reach Complete Meditation in their lifetime. It is a great goal to aim for, and is essentially the ultimate stress management tool.

Even if Complete Meditation doesn’t interest you, focused meditation can give an effective relaxation response.

What does a meditative state feel like?

With a little bit of practice, getting yourself into a meditative state can bring feelings of bliss, euphoria, calm, and relaxation. It’s no wonder how daily meditative practice can improve sleep quality and lower blood pressure and stress levels!

A person enjoying a deep meditative state.

5 Benefits from learning how to meditate

The main reason you should become GREAT at meditating is because of the several benefits it can bring.

  1. Reduce stress levels

  2. Lower blood pressure

  3. Improvement of chronic pain

  4. Better handling of negative emotions

  5. Increase in sleep quality

The longer you are in a meditative state, the more your body will be able to take advantage of these benefits. These benefits are supported by several scientific studies. This should motivate you to put meditation on your daily to do list! Also, be sure to check out our 5 Best Self Care Gifts for the Holidays.

How Much Should I Meditate?

How much you meditate in a day depends on how comfortable you are in your meditation practice. If you are just beginning and getting comfortable, try to be in a meditative state for at least 10-15 minutes a day. As you become more and more comfortable with your meditation practices you can increase the time you meditate over time.

As you work your way up, you should be shooting for around 40 to 45 minutes of meditation per day. This can be one 45 minute session, or you can split it up. For instance, in Transcendental Meditation, two 20 minute sessions are suggested. Buddhist Practice and Tibetan Practice say that you should do several 10-15 minute sessions spaced out through your day.

Regardless of what different practices suggest, it is most important to figure out what works best for you. You may find when first starting out that 15 minutes of meditation helps more than 45 minutes or an hour. This is normal and something to pay attention to!

Remember, the whole point of meditation is to help your well being. This is more important than what any practice says.

A man meditating in the middle of a lake.

Meditation Tips and Techniques

To maximize your time in a meditative state, here are some basic yet important meditation tips and techniques.

  • Keep it simple. You don’t need to overcomplicate your meditation. The most simple meditation techniques are the most effective.

  • Keep your sessions short. Meditation doesn’t need to be a huge investment of time. You won’t look forward to your daily practice very much if you want to make it 2 hours.

  • Make mindfulness a habit. If you try to be in a meditative state at the same time every day, it will become a part of your routine and feel more natural.

  • Meditate in the mornings. A meditation practice session in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day. It can set the tone and do wonders over time.

Guided Meditations for Beginners

If you are a beginner, a guided meditation can be just what you need to get in a meditative state. Guided meditation can be your source for several different meditation techniques. Guided meditation is a great way to get started on your meditation journey since you don’t need any existing knowledge and you can just follow along.

The barrier to start guided meditation isn’t as high as it once was. You used to have to find a meditation teacher to guide you. Nowadays, there are several guided meditations on the internet that are readily available.

If you are serious about meditation, however, finding a meditation teacher is not a bad idea. Having a resource to bounce ideas off of and keep an open dialogue is very valuable on your meditation journey. There are several meditation teachers out there who are great masters of their practice.

Meditation is something everyone can do, here’s how

Meditating doesn’t have to be as formal as you may think. Finding a state of mindfulness only takes a couple minutes, and has several health benefits. If traditional meditation doesn’t put you in a meditative state, there are other forms of meditation you can try, such as music meditation.

Playing or listening to music

If you want to try music meditation, follow these steps:

  • Get comfortable, sit or lay down, take a deep breath and relax.

  • Close your eyes and press play.

  • If your mind wanders, it’s okay, just come back to the music.

  • Do this for one or two songs, and repeat every day!

A brief explanation of the practice

In music meditation, you are working on staying in the present moment, such like any other meditation. In this instance, your focus is the music you are listening to. I recommend something calm and smooth, but really you can meditate to any sort of music.

If you’re a skilled musician, instead of listening, play music! In this practice, you are reaping the health benefits of playing/listening to music as well as meditation.

A person meditating while listening to music through headphones.

Introduction to the Body Scan Meditation

Body scan meditation is a great way to get into a meditative state. It also directly increases your quality of sleep. Body scan meditating is best performed at night, right before you go to bed.

This meditation greatly improves mindfulness. Over time, you may even notice that it can reduce pain.

Body scan meditation consists of bringing awareness to different parts of the body, starting with the feet and moving up towards the head. It is a great way to practice mindfulness and is revered in many different traditions. I personally guarantee it will make you fall asleep!

Introduction to the Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a form of moving meditation in which you focus on, well, your walk! This is a very engaging and active way to get in a positive meditative state. Great for overall well being!

To get started with walking meditation:

  1. Plan where you’re going to walk. Ideally you want a quiet route without too many distractions.

  2. Begin walking at a slow pace. You aren’t going for endurance, just mindfulness.

  3. Focus on the present moment. The sound of your footsteps, the wind in the trees, and the feelings in your body are all good things to focus on.

  4. Walk for about 10 to 15 minutes. You aren’t trying to ware yourself out, just practice meditation. If you would rather walk for longer, set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of your walk and only focus on meditation then.

This practice is great for mental health, and it scientifically improves blood pressure in multiple ways (walking, AND meditating!).

Introduction to Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditation is a popular form of meditation that requires your focus on a mantra you choose prior to your session. In modern day practices, the mantra is most commonly a phrase, similar to an affirmation. It can also be a sound used to channel your focus. This is where the stereotypical “Ohm” repetition comes into play.

To begin with mantra meditation, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Close your eyes, and quietly repeat your mantra under your breath. Focus on the mantra. Focus on how the mantra makes you feel. In between mantra repetitions, take a deep breath in. Do this for around 15 minutes, and pay attention to whether or not it enhances your meditation experience.

Repeating a mantra can potentially bring you into an even deeper meditative state. It may not be for everybody, but I encourage you to try it in your meditation practice one day and see if you like it!

A person practicing Loving-Kindness meditation.

Introduction to Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving Kindness meditation is a practice designed to sharply enhance your meditative state feelings of loving and kindness. This form of meditation can greatly increase your mental health, especially if you are feeling gloomy. The step-by-step entry-level guide to practice this form of meditation is as follows:

  1. Sit down in a quiet, peaceful area.

  2. Focus on taking smooth, deep breaths and relaxing your body.

  3. Close your eyes, and picture somebody who loves you unconditionally. This person can be someone you see everyday, or someone who passed away. They can even be a metaphorical person.

  4. Call upon this person in your meditation, accepting their feelings of loving and kindness. Allow them to permeate your body and encompass your entire life.

  5. Once you feel that you have truly accepted this love and kindness, relish in it for a few moments. Focus on how good you feel. Take a few deep breaths and bring awareness to your emotions.

  6. When you feel you are ready, picture someone in your life you feel could use some loving kindness in their life. It could be anyone in the entire world. Once you picture someone, feel as though you are sending these feelings their way.

  7. Be sure to focus attention on your breath the entire time. It is easy to lose track of, especially with a meditation that can be as emotional as Loving Kindness.

And that’s all there is to it! All in all, this mindfulness practice should take a total of 7-10 minutes. It always gets me in such a positive meditative state and provides a boost to my entire day.

More Styles of Mindfulness Meditation

There are countless styles of mindfulness meditation out there, and it’s all about finding which one works best for your desired meditative state. If none of the above are going to make their way into your meditation practices, consider one of these:

Visualization Meditation

Visualization meditation has become a very popular meditation practice with athletes. This type of meditation gets athletes in a meditative state to go out and perform their best in any competition. The fact that this meditation transcends different traditions and is used by world class athletes and celebrities every day goes to show the power of the practice.

This type of meditation is simple. All you must do is, visualize the outcome of an event before it happens. Pay attention to the small details; the sights, the sounds, the smells of the event. Needless to say, you want to imagine the moment finishing in a positive outcome.

Science shows that visualizing an event before it happens can help athletes succeed at the highest level, and there is no reason you can’t incorporate it in your life as well. Visualization ties in hand-in-hand with manifestation, as well!

Raisin Meditation

Raisin meditation is a fresh take on mindfulness practice that is interactive and stimulates several senses. It is fun, easy, and can be a great twist on your normal meditative practice.

  1. Take a raisin in the palm of your hand. Focus on what the raisin looks like. Next, smell it. Moving slowly, build your awareness of all the tiny details of the raisin that you have never noticed before.

  2. Once you feel satisfied with the sight and smell of the raisin, taste it! Pay attention to how the raisin feels in your mouth, as well as how it tastes. Practice breathing as you savor the raisin.

  3. As you chew and swallow the raisin, pay attention to your body and how it feels to eat the raisin. Can you feel the raisin move down to your stomach? How did eating the raisin physically make you feel?

If you don’t like raisins, you can substitute it with any other food! It is amazing how this exercise can give you new perspective.

Who would’ve thought a raisin could put you in a meditative state!?

Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork is a practice that has recently emerged as a type of meditation. Different from mindfulness meditation, Holotropic Breathwork is a breathing technique used to put the mind in psychedelic state.

History of the practice

The practice grew popular around the 60s, around the time LSD became outlawed, as a substitute for the hallucinogenic. It is said to put those practicing in a deep meditative state for the purpose of self exploration.

It is often performed in groups under the supervision of a guide. Usually, the breather is paired with a sitter to ensure that the breather doesn’t need any help. The sessions usually last up to 3 hours and it is up to each individual person what they wish to get out of the sessions.

Should you try it?

We recommend trying mindfulness meditation to see its effectiveness before you go on to try Holotropic Breathwork. Mindfulness meditation will allow you to reach a much calmer meditative state and does not pose any health risks.

If you have no underlying health conditions and wish to try this technique, be sure to consult a professional. Holotropic Breathwork has not been shown to be more effective than any other form of meditation practice.

A person practicing a breathing technique.

Breath focus technique

The breath focus technique involves visualizing an image in your mind and using a phrase as you take deep breaths. Breathing is an important part of meditation, and focusing solely on breathing is yet another way to reach a meditative state.

  1. Relax, and close your eyes. Set your intention by visualizing a peaceful picture in your mind.

  2. Take a slow, deep breath in through the nose. As you do this, imagine you are breathing in a sense of calm and awareness of your body.

  3. Tell yourself, “I am breathing in a calm awareness of the present moment.”

  4. Now breathe out through your mouth. Imagine you are breathing out all the built up chronic pain and stress in your body.

  5. Tell yourself, “I am breathing out the pent up pain and stress from my body.”

  6. Repeat this for 5-10 minutes. This is a great technique to use daily!

Diaphragmatic breathing

To take Breath focus a step further, consider using diaphragmatic breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing is also known as belly breathing, and often we fall into a habit of not doing this on a regular basis. Imagine taking a deep breath into your belly as opposed to your chest.

There are many health benefits to diaphragmatic breathing, and it can enhance your meditative state more than expected!

A Mindfulness Practice to Foster Forgiveness

One final practice that is sure to achieve a meditative state that will foster forgiveness is a take on mantra meditation.

  • Sit down and relax in a comfortable environment

  • Slow your breath, and repeat the following mantras:

    • I forgive myself

    • I forgive what others have done to me

    • I hold no ill will in my heart and I trust the universe

  • Focus on these phrases. Focus on how your body feels as you utter them. Notice the people who cross your mind, but draw it back to the phrases themselves

  • Practice this for 10-15 minutes once every week or so.

A Final Word on Meditative State

Achieving a powerful meditative state is the goal of almost all meditation practices. Everyone’s desired meditative state may be different, and that is okay. Different meditations work best for different people.

The important thing is that you are actively meditating and reaping the health benefits that come with it. The focused attention to mindfulness will pay dividends on your stress levels. There is a reason that some of the greatest people in the world practice meditation every day. So go on, dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to finding that meditative state!

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