Meditation quiets the mind and practices the art of self-control. A person can gradually gain more and more self-mastery by shutting off the outside world and merely observing your thoughts and reactions.
Overall well-being includes attending to our mental health. Meditation, though it might feel strange for some people at first, is a perfect way to find peace, quiet the mind and develop enduring happiness even amid life’s pressures.
Mention meditation practice and specific segments of the population will imagine new-age hippy-types sitting in a circle on the beach and chanting as the sun rises.
With roots in eastern medicine, meditation made its way into the western culture; before long mainstream medicine took notice of the benefits and began applying meditative therapies to a whole range of conditions, such as depression, anxiety, pain relief, and addiction recovery.
Where people sometimes get confused are the many variations and forms of meditation. Mindful meditation is a widespread and simple form.
There are all sorts of benefits to regular mindful meditation. For example, researchers at John Hopkins University reported that regular sessions seem to deliver as much relief from symptoms of anxiety and depression as other research has noted from the use of antidepressant medications.
Here is a list of some of the benefits of meditation.
Quiet the Mind
The mind is constantly generating thoughts, feelings & emotions. Meditation quiets it down by “ignoring” and simply observing and letting all mind activity come and go. Attention empowers wherever it focuses. Therefore, the less attention someone pays to their mind, the quieter it will become.
In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation was a viable alternative to taking prescribed medication.
Mindfulness is a skill that requires practice. The more a person learns to focus while meditating, the more they can control their focus in day-to-day activities, such as work.
Stress is the body’s alarm system. When activated, stress releases adrenaline into the system and can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. According to the American Heart Association, meditating for a few minutes each day could help decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Practicing mindfulness for as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day flexes the mind’s ability to control negative impulses. For those recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, this skill-set might help prevent relapses.
Reduce Body Discomfort
A study conducted at Wake Forest University found that meditation activates and reinforces areas of the brain that process pain. The practice has the overall effect of reducing physical discomfort.
Improve Brain Health
A recent study indicated that regular meditation practice increases the thickness of specific cortical regions correlating to visual, auditory, and somatosensory processing. In addition, regularly meditating may slow frontal cortex thinning due to aging processes. Meditation-induced relaxation states facilitate learning processes supported by improved cortical plasticity.
Enhance Spiritual Growth
Virtually all the great spiritual disciplines utilize meditation by shutting off the outside world and focusing on the interior landscape, connecting to a higher level of consciousness. Although it is challenging to measure accurately, this practice gradually develops a person’s spiritual nature.
With interest in the mind-body connection increasing due to imaging advances that allow neuroscientists to view the brain’s activity in real-time, clinical research studies investigating the efficacy of meditation are providing positive results. A meta-analysis of meditation studies applying cutting-edge technology indicated that regularly practicing meditation and cultivating mindfulness is correlated to more “positive states of mind,” improved life quality, and experiencing reduced emotional distress. This same meta-analysis also found that meditation can positively impact stress hormones, the autonomic nervous system, and the immune system.
Here are some pointers on how to meditate;
Find a Quiet Space: Meditation is doable almost anywhere. However, it is best to find a place with no distractions.
Sit in a Comfortable Position: It’s often called “sitting” for a reason. Crossing your legs in any particular fashion; whatever is most comfortable is perfectly fine. Your hands can be in front of you or flat. Touching the thumb and the index finger (on the same hand) is said to “close the circuits,” but not required.
Close your Eyes & Take a Deep Breath – Keeping the eyes closed helps block out the exterior world and allows you to pay attention to what is going on inside. In addition, taking a deep breath can help relax the body.
Become “The Observer” of Your Breathing – Becoming “The Observer” means taking a step back from your thoughts and feelings and being a passive, detached watcher. Instead, use your breathing as an “anchor” to bring you back to the present and stop your thinking mind.
Let Thoughts Come & Go – Your mind may try to convince you this is a waste of time and tell you to do something else. It is where the practice of self-discipline, self-control, and self-mastery takes place. Try to b not to pay attention to thoughts. Let them come and let them go, without any concern whatsoever.
Relax & Breathe Naturally – Breathing normally, perhaps a little deeper than usual, lets your body relax into the practice. Stay with it for however long you allow, and it feels good. Sometimes setting the alarm is a good idea. It will enable the person not to be concerned about the element of time. It is not suggested to “force” yourself to keep sitting once you reach a point it’s not comfortable; open your eyes.
End the Session With a Deep Breath: After meditating, open your eyes and take a deep breath. You can say a closing expression of some mantra if you wish.
Breathing meditation is a great way to use your breath to focus on your busy mind. Breathing is always present, in the here and now. Breathing meditation is a good way for beginners to practice mindfulness, self-control, and self-discipline.
The best way to meditate is to start your Session by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. You can either sit on the floor, in a chair or wherever you feel comfortable. Once sitting, rest your hands on your lap and become aware of your posture. If slouching, straighten your back enough to maintain its natural curve.
Now close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Slow down your breathing slightly by inhaling more deeply than you usually inhale. Remember to inhale through your nose and exhale from your mouth. As you practice this deep breathing exercise, you’ll notice your lungs filling up with more air each time. It is not only great for your physical health but contributes to calming your central nervous system.
In the beginning, you’ll find your attention straying from your breathing to something else. Then, deliberately return your attention to your breathing each time you realize you’ve wandered away. Learning to focus is often difficult for beginners, but with practice, you’ll eventually discover that concentrating on only breathing slowly and deeply is second nature to you.
“A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing. But that’s not true; meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness….”
Some people prefer listening to meditation music or nature sounds while meditating. For example, the gentle sounds of ocean waves, raindrops, and birdsong help create images in mind to focus. As a result, you are relaxing, soothing, and nurturing, and meditating after you’ve eaten a large meal or while hungry may distract you from achieving the calm, serene state you wish to reach before ending your meditation session.
These meditation techniques for beginners represent only a basic introduction to meditation. Transcendental meditation is a technique for focusing, repeating a mantra, and letting stress and worry go.
Several different kinds of meditation practices exist, including;
An added plus to meditation is that if mindfulness doesn’t feel appropriate for a person, there are forms that might be more suitable. Tai Chi, for instance, is a moving meditation that applies deep concentration and balance to gentle movement. The slow breathing and stretching involved in Yoga are a form of physical meditation.