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There are thousands of studies that have shown mindfulness meditation can positively impact mental and physical health.
What is meditation?
Meditation is relaxation. Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. It’s not mainly about focusing one’s thoughts on one thing, but instead on becoming thoughtless.
When we sit to meditate, we are looking after ourselves in ways that might not at first seem obvious. The benefits of meditation are numerous and varied, and supported by science. Many people start meditating to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and to cultivate peace of mind.
Anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple and inexpensive, and it doesn’t require any special equipment.
And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
People use the practice to develop beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance. You mainly use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.
It is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine.
Benefits of meditation
Most people are likely familiar with the positive side effects of meditation associated with mental health: increased awareness, clarity, compassion, better clarity, improved communication, relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind and body and a sense of calm. Improved focus is another benefit commonly associated with meditation.
Meditation can decrease negative neurological connections to the medial prefrontal cortex — or the “me center” of the brain — dampening traits such as fear, stress, and anxiety. Alternatively, it also builds new positive neurological connections to the parts of the brain responsible for promoting traits like focus and decision-making.
With meditation, the physiology undergoes a change and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). This results in joy, peace, enthusiasm as the level of prana in the body increases.
During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Physical benefits of meditation
When the body and mind are relaxed, however — whether through meditation practice or other techniques — the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, causing the body to stop releasing stress hormones. Many people who meditate regularly have learned to condition their body to relax on demand, and, according to research, can more effectively manage stress.
On a physical level, meditation:
Lowers high blood pressure
Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
Improves the immune system
Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy
These benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.
Meditation isn’t a replacement for traditional medical treatment. But it may be a useful addition to your other treatment.
Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state that promotes healing. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful. It cleanses and nourishes you from within and calms you, whenever you feel overwhelmed, unstable, or emotionally shut down.
With regular practice of meditation: Anxiety decreases
Emotional stability improves
Your happiness adds up
Gain clarity and peace of mind
Problems become smaller as you will be viewing them from a different angle and thinking in a positive and calm way
Meditation sharpens the mind by gaining focus and expands through relaxation
A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration.
Why is stress reduction so important?
It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption, which results in higher energy levels and better immunity and sleep. Plus, stress reduction is key for diminishing the physical symptoms of many health conditions.
Meditation doesn’t have a religion and can be practiced by anybody regardless of the faith they follow.
Types of meditation
Meditation is a broad term for the many ways to a relaxed state of being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same objective of achieving inner peace.
In a meditative state, you are in a space of vastness, calmness and joy and this is what you emit into the environment, bringing harmony to the Creation/planet.
You perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As you move through poses that require balance and concentration, you’re encouraged to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.
Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.
In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them pass without judgment.
Tai chi (TIE-CHEE).
This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts, you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Qi gong (CHEE-gung).
This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance.
This is a simple, natural technique. In Transcendental Meditation, you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way.
This form of meditation may allow your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort.
Meditation can bring about a true personal transformation. As you learn more about yourself, you’ll naturally start discovering more about yourself and love yourself.
Meditation is like a seed. When you cultivate a seed with love, the more it blossoms.
As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or in an exam room.
Experiment, and you’ll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Adapt meditation to your needs at the moment. Remember, there’s no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall.