“Meditation can wipe away the day’s stress, bringing with it inner peace.”—Mayo Clinic Staff
Pick out your most comfortable chair. Sit down, loosen your skirt or trousers, slip out of your shoes, and close your eyes.
Now imagine your feet dangling in a mountain lake’s cold, clear, blue water.
Smell the aroma of nearby flowers.
Can you hear the happy songs of carefree birds?
You feel stimulated by the fresh mountain air.
For a few minutes, eliminate, as far as possible, all other thoughts.
With this peaceful scene in mind, meditate; focus your mind in silence.
Feel better? More relaxed?
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years in many different forms worldwide.
In meditation, you practice focusing or clearing your mind using mental and physical techniques.
Historically, meditation was a religious practice, but you do not have to be religious to do it.
“Focus one’s mind for a time for spiritual purposes or for relaxation.”—Oxford English Dictionary
“Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.”—Mayo Clinic Staff
Also: “To think in a thoughtful or leisurely manner. It requires a serious and extended undistracted period of concentration.”
Meditation is not merely daydreaming, as some would believe.
Meditation is a way to eliminate the stream of chaotic thoughts that may cause stress and instead enhance our physical and emotional well-being.
Benefits of Meditation
Who of us does not need to relax?
According to one authority, 70 percent of the people sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms are sick simply because they can no longer cope with life’s pressure.
Also, new studies indicate how stress and other emotions that affect the body’s immune responses and vital functions are responsible for many human ailments.
The benefits of meditation can include the following:
- Eases anxiety & depression
- Reduces stress
- Reduces inflammation
- Eases pain
- Decreases blood pressure
- Bolsters self-confidence
- Reduces negative emotions
- Increases positive emotions
- Improves brain health
- Improves your memory
- Improves sleep
- Controls food cravings
According to Mayo Clinic Staff, some researchers suggest (though not proven) meditation may help manage symptoms of conditions such as:
- Chronic Pain
- Heard disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
*Be sure to check with your doctor about the pros and cons of using meditation to manage conditions or other health problems.
If you would like more information on purported health benefits, you will find many short, 1-minute videos of interest on WebMD.com:
Types of Meditation
There is no correct way to meditate because meditation can take many forms.
- Buddhist: Meditation in Buddhism, considered both a philosophy and a religion, encourages emptying the mind of all thought. Its meditation techniques include:
Asubha Bhavana (reflection on unattractiveness)
Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing)
(Source: Buddhist meditation – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Buddhist_ meditation)
Christian: Contemplation, which means to look at thoughtfully, to think deeply about, and at length, a common practice in Christianity. And praying.
- Guided: This non-religious form of meditation, sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, can happen with several people one-on-one. You form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. A common technique used in counseling, therapy, or support group setting, you use your senses (smells, sights, sounds, texture).
- Mindfulness meditation. In this form of meditation, you bring your attention to the present moment. You try to live in the here and now with a nonjudgmental acceptance, no matter your environment. Mindfulness means you are using all your senses in the present moment. You focus on your breath and let your thoughts and emotions pass without judgment.
- Tai chi. Pronounced (TIE-CHEE), “Tai chi is an art embracing the mind, body, and spirit. Originating in ancient China, tai chi is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body. Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits. For many, it continues as a lifetime journey.” (taichiforhealthinstitute.org)
In tai chi, you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
- The Taoist form of meditation is sometimes referred to as Daoism and emphasizes living harmoniously with the seasons and the calendar. The essential principles are inaction, simplicity, and living in harmony with nature. Like Buddhism, Taoism is also considered a religion and philosophy.
- Osho. This form of meditation has its roots in Hinduism. It is fast and intense, with deliberate and forceful breathing exercises. Osho is also known as “dynamic meditation.” Watch this YouTube video for the OSHO form of meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9aUw0CRDlQ
- Transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation is a simple natural technique from India and is non-religious. In this form of meditation, you silently repeat a personal mantra, “A word or sound repeated to aid concentration when meditating.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
Five words frequently used are release, peace, tranquility, love, and joy.
Transcendental 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.” (MayoClinic.org)
- Yoga. A physical form of meditation and exercise from India. You perform a series of physical poses and control breathing exercises to relieve stress and improve mental/emotional health, sleep, balance, and concentration. Yoga can take on religious and non-religious forms.
How to Meditate
There is no one correct way to meditate.
As illustrated above, different types of meditation may include various processes to help you meditate.
However, experts have found standard features that happen across different meditation forms.
- Focused attention. Focusing attention is one of the essential elements of meditation, as it helps you free your mind from the many distractions of daily life.
- Relaxed breathing. To relax, try the 7/11 breathing exercise:
Focus on your breath and in your mind:
Count to seven as you breathe in.
Count to eleven as you slowly breathe out.
You will immediately feel more relaxed. Practice this exercise whenever you feel anxious or stressed.
- Self-scanning. Focus on the physical sensations you can feel throughout your body as a foundation for your awareness of the world around you.
- Contemplating involves concentrating on a question or contradiction without letting your mind wander.
- Engaging in Prayer and expressing gratitude is the most widely used form of meditation.
- Find a quiet spot with few distractions; turn off your cell phone and the TV.
- Have a comfortable position. To get the most out of your meditation, try to be satisfied. You can practice meditation sitting, lying down, walking, or in any position if you are comfortable. And you want to keep a good posture while meditating.
- Accepting all thoughts without judgment.
Meditation Is Good Medicine
“Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. You can use it to relax and cope with stress by refocusing your attention on something calming. Meditation can help you learn to stay centered and keep inner peace.”
Are you ready to build your medication skills and begin your daily practice today?
There are numerous ideas on the web; this article has just touched the surface.
This article has discussed several different types of meditation, all of which involve focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques.
Depending on your meditation type, you can learn to relax, reduce anxiety, manage stress, and more.
Many people use meditation to help them improve their health, which is what I hope for you.
But if nothing else, I hope you have learned how the practice of meditating, which is thousands of years old, helps you relieve your stress and anxiety and feel better overall.
Yes, meditation is indeed “good medicine.”
Why not get started today??
Good health to you!!
“Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then a full hour is needed,”—Saint Francis de Sales
“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.”—Paramahansa Yoga Nanda