In western countries, meditation has been increasing in popularity, yet it’s still a concept that isn’t completely understood, and often quite misunderstood.
Many people have a vague idea that the practice involves calming down the mind, but they may be unsure of the ways in which that occurs. It’s also a bit of a mystery to lots of people what benefits can come from meditating.
Meditation usually involves sitting quietly for various lengths of time, while focusing on controlled breathing and mindfulness.
Although factually, you can meditate anywhere.
The benefits of meditation are far reaching and may actually surprise you. Let’s delve a little deeper into this ancient technique and unravel some of its basic mysteries.
Types of Meditation
There are a vast number of meditation styles. I’ll address two of the most common categories for now.
The first is ‘concentration and focus’, meditation.
This is the category under which ‘Transcendental Meditation‘, or TM, falls under. The name of this form implies its meaning. During TM, a practitioner will focus their concentration on a single element, which could be a sound, image, words or even their own breathing.
Mindful meditation is the other most popular form of the tradition. This form doesn’t place its emphasis on just one thing. Instead, it requires a practitioner to be aware of all that is passing through their mind in the current moment.
The purpose is to notice the thoughts, feelings, images and sounds as they occur in order to center one’s self, in the here and now.
Purpose of Meditation
The overarching purpose of meditation is to provide the practitioner with self-awareness and calmness of mind. The goal of reaching a higher plane of awareness is cited by many.
Often, people pursue a meditation practice in order to enhance their spirituality or personal development in some way. However, there are also some other reasons some people choose this path.
A regular habit of meditating has been shown to lessen anxiety, along with depression and overall stress.
It can help with pain management, lower blood pressure, and manage hot flashes.
Those with addictive behavioral issues like alcohol, drug, and smoking addiction, may be assisted in keeping relapse at bay through a meditation routine.
Considerations Before Starting Meditation
As long as you are relatively healthy, the chances are good you’ll be able to practice meditation without any issues.
There are some people who may not be suited for this sort of activity, and you should always speak a medical profesional before adding a new regimen to your routine.
Seated meditation may be problematic for those with certain flexibility or joint issues.
In addition, practices that required focused breathing might not be appropriate for anyone with a respiratory condition. Certain mental health diagnoses such as schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could prove to hinder one’s ability to engage in meditating also.
In any case, talk to your physician and never forego traditional medical treatment in favorite of any type of alternative therapy without prior physician approval.
These are a few basics of starting a meditation practice.
There are tons of reasons to begin a practice of your own. The type you choose will be based on your preferences, goals and lifestyle.
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The Benefits of Regular Meditation:
Although meditating is a practice that involves training your mind to focus, it’s used for a variety of reasons.
Some feel it helps them to feel calmer when life is particularly hectic. Others just want to reduce their overall stress or to improve their sleep and feel meditation could help. You may have heard that meditating can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
All of these things are true.
Let’s examine them, along with other benefits of regular meditation, to help you determine whether meditation seems like a practice you may wish to incorporate into your life.
Reduces Your Stress Level
Reducing stress is one of the most sought-after benefits of meditation. In today’s world, there’s a lot to worry about. Sitting quietly to relax your mind and focus your thoughts seems like a worthwhile method for finding a calm moment, but science actually shows this practice works to lower stress levels.
A hormone called cortisol is released into our bodies when we’re physically and emotionally stressed, and it can wreak all kinds of havoc on us. The release of cortisol stimulates the production of chemicals known as cytokines that promote inflammation.
They also contribute to higher blood pressure, increased fatigue and brain fog, along with added symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation leads to a reduction of these chemicals, in turn lessening overall feelings of stress in participants.
Stabilizes Your Emotional Well-Being
If you deal with anxiety or depression, meditation could be a tool to improve your overall sense of emotional health. One scientific study looked at the electrical activity in the brains of participants who practiced meditation and those who didn’t.
Researchers discovered that there was a significant change in the areas of the brain responsible for optimism and positive thinking in those who meditated. In another study involving individuals suffering from depression, 18 people were asked to practice meditation for a three-year period.
This work determined that the participants actually experienced decreases in their depression that proved to be long-lasting and significant.
Helps You To Sleep Better
Many of us struggle with restless sleep or insomnia. It’s a chronic issue that affects you in so many ways. Lack of sleep makes us less alert, clouds our thinking and is detrimental to our physical health.
In one research study, participants were placed in two groups. The first group was instructed to meditate, while the other was not. I bet you can guess which group ended up sleeping better and for longer periods.
Yes, it was the one that practiced meditation. One of the reasons meditating helps you sleep better is because you learn to control those racing thoughts that keep so many of us awake for hours after our heads hit the pillow. It also aids in overall relaxation.
Helps To Decrease Your Blood Pressure
Meditation has been shown to reduce strain on the heart. Studies have shown that meditating can help to reduce tension in the blood vessels and relax the nerve signals that control heart function, leading to lowering of blood pressure.
It also lessens the flight or fight response that is known to contribute to high stress levels and to have an effect on blood pressure.
These are just some of the many health and emotional benefits of meditation. There are numerous others.
Engaging in a regular practice of meditation can help you to find specific advantages it can provide for you