In the everyday madness of life, are you suffering with stress, anxiety, worries and tension? Are medicines not the solution for you?
Well, meditation is. Even though some of you might shirk the very thought of meditation, the benefits of it will overrule all doubts and apprehensions. Are you ready to know more about it? Let’s go.
What is Meditation?
There can be many schools of thought behind Meditation. Some think it’s about mental concentration, while others think that when we meditate, we tend to imagine something that gives us peace and satisfaction.
What is the truth? Well, meditation is a state of thoughtful awareness. It is not a state of doing – but a state of awareness. Role of Meditation? To mentally reduce stress, and develop an air of peace, and tranquility (‘shanti’ as we know it in Hindi).
Man can actually be in a state of meditation while doing his daily laborious work.
Types of Meditation
Not one, there are 7 types of meditation:
1. Transcendental Meditation
According to Maharishi (who is an advocate of this type of meditation), TM is the state of enlightenment. It means we experience that inner calmness, even when we are dynamically busy. But for this, expert guidance is recommended.
2. Heart Rhythm Meditation
Call it ‘downward’ meditation- because its main concentration is on the heart with some amount of emphasis on breathing. The purpose of HRM is to get you experience the mystics’ mantra. HRM, in short, is triple form of meditation which gets you to experience physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits.
This is opposite of HRM. Meaning it is all about ‘upward’ meditation, which focuses on the rising stream of energy.
4. Guided Visualisation
This new technique is multi-pronged. It gets you stress relief, spiritual healing, or personal development.
5. Qi Gong
Tongue twister it is not, but a favorite meditation technique which helps improve on posture, breathing, and the relaxing ability with greater ease.
Translates to ‘seated meditation’, Zazen is the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. While doing it, sit in a comfortable position. See to it that your back is completely straight and you are centered. This position will allow your breathing to deepen and enhance the experience of meditation.
This is the final method of meditation. It’s a part of Buddhist tradition. In this technique, you have to acknowledge reality by letting your mind wander, accept any thoughts that come up, and understand the present.
Benefits of Meditation
With our mind in a constant tussle in social groups, work groups, family and relatives, being calm (and showing your calmness) is a tough call. Worry not. Just meditate religiously and find calmness becoming your bestie!
2. Good concentration
The art of meditation gets you more centered and focused in everything you do – whether it is petty jobs or work-related.
3. Better clarity
‘Confused’ is the social tag you get (on social networking sites and day-to-day life)? Your mind is blocked with too many things. Meditate and see yourself getting a hang of things the first time and in a better way.
4. Improved communication
We have so many things to say, but how do we EXPRESS it is (and in a better way) is a major challenge for most of us. Just meditate and see your communication getting to be more crystal clear.
5. Increases Productivity
You have a pile-up of things to do on a daily basis. How efficient are you in doing all of them? It’s definitely achievable and simpler to accomplish when you meditate.
6. Sharpens the mind
Yah! Our grandma told us to eat soaked almonds every morning and our mom told us to eat walnuts. But when you meditate, it gets your ‘focusing’ abilities on track thereby leading to a sharpened and well-honed mind (like a sharpened knife).
7. Creativity increases
If you are serious in doing meditation, your mind is going to be set free from the mind-blocks. This boosts freedom in thoughts and improved creative expression.
8. Happiness increases
Meditation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. When that happens, the happiness quotient is likely to increase manifold.
9. Improves learning, memory and self-awareness
Meditation when done on a long-term basis ‘ups’ the grey-matter density. Particularly, in areas of the brain which are connected to learning, memory, self-awareness.
10. Increasing self-awareness
How clear are you about you? Chances are less. Meditate and find your self-awareness pitch going high.
11. Increasing patience and tolerance
Next to impossible, this is (given the mad rush of going ahead of others and proving things). Darling, its time to meditate (and don’t delay)! Slowly, it will get your patience and tolerance levels back-on-track and calm you down mentally.
12. Intuition develops
It is not a commodity, but the sense of intuition (or gut feel) is more likely to develop when you are in a calm frame of mind. That can only happen when you MEDITATE.
13. Lowers blood pressure
The practice of Zen Meditation (or “Zazen”) reduces stress and high blood pressure. This finding is backed by clinical research.
14. Chronic pain
This happens as a result of injury or tissue damage. But it can take a long time to heal as a result of emotional stress too. Meditate. It will help the pain symptoms vanish away soon (apart from taking your prescribed meds).
15. Respiratory problems
Have trouble in breathing? Or are you down with cough, pollen allergy, tightness in chest or shortness of breath? Learning (and doing) meditation will be of great help in treating breathing-related problems.
16. Reduce symptoms of panic disorder
Meditation reduces “moment of panic”. A research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed amazing findings. 22 patients diagnosed with panic disorder were put on 3 months meditation and relaxation training. In 20 of those patients, the effects of panic and anxiety had reduced substantially.
Ditch your OTC drugs as Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce tension headaches.
18. Sleep disturbances and fatigue
Facing disturbing sleep patterns, depression and fatigue (senior citizens face more of it)? Going for sleep hygiene education (SHE) program – a part of meditation – helps a lot to quick-fix the problem.
19. Skin disorders
Skin problems?? Ouch! They can be such a blow to the overall beauty and personality. Meditation is that “solace” which sets things right – gives you relief and soothes your skin.
20. Reduces risk of Heart diseases
Daily meditation when done for up to 8 months leads to a significant reduction in the heart rate.
21. Treats premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms
PMS (or Premenstrual symptoms) are very common in women. At least 60 % women suffer from PMS. Women who do meditation (or other methods of deep relaxation) are able to lessen many of their PMS symptoms.
22. Gastrointestinal distress
Meditation and yoga can help bring about instant relief to physical pain related with gastro-intestines and get you the much-needed relaxation.
23. Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome
Chronic irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder. But according to research, mindful meditation techniques may ease the bowel system.
24. Emotional Balance
Meditation in the form of alternate ‘Nostril Breathing’ balances out the left and right brain hemispheres. Thereby, brings mental and emotional balance.
25. Increased Immunity
It’s not a fad but reality. Meditation has the power to stimulate and strengthen the body’s immune system and also increase brain performance.
26. Increased Fertility
Sounds weird – the connection between Meditation and Fertility, right? Stressed-out women produce prolactin, cortisol and other hormones. All these can interfere with (or even block) regular ovulation, thereby become a roadblock in pregnancy. Meditation when done regularly helps correct the situation, and improves fertility.
Good news! You can easily reduce chronic inflammation when you focus on stress reduction. In doing so, more sleep, yoga, long walks and meditation surely helps.
28. Reduce alcohol and substance abuse
There are so many reasons to drink (and drink like a fish) and take drugs. Either it’s a SELF-habit or one influenced by friends. Meditation automatically helps you reduce the alcohol and substance abuse (because your mind tends to shift focus on positive energies and healthy lifestyle).
29. Helps manage ADHD
What’s ADHD in the first place? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (a mental disorder). Symptoms and Signals? When there are problems of paying attention, or there is difficulty in controlling behavior. The good thing is that Meditation can help fight and counteract these stress points.
30. Improves empathy and positive relationships
Understanding of things and relationships these days is not as deep-rooted as it was few years (‘decades’ could be the right word) back. Meditation is not just for the body, it is also for the mind and our brain need to be pampered with a bit of meditation to get our people- connect back in order.
31. Reduces social isolation
Spend just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation. It will increase social connection feelings and a sense of positivity.
32. Decreases feelings of loneliness
Meditation training is useful not only in decreasing the loneliness feeling, it also decreases the risk of morbidity (meaning diseased).
33. Reduces emotional eating
When you are bogged down with pressure or sleep less, you will have the urge to eat-and-repeat. Meditate sweetheart, as that will cut down on your emotional eating.
34. Meditation may make you live longer
When you do half an hour of meditation a day, it not only reduces the sense of loneliness, but also reduces the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s and premature death.
REMEMBER: All the suggestions mentioned above are backed by clinical studies and research findings.
How to learn to meditate
Simple meditation for beginners…
- Sit on the floor or lie down comfortably.
- Close your eyes (you can also use cooling eye masks in case you are lying down).
- Now breathe naturally (without making any effort to control the breath).
- Keep all of your attention focused on your breath and also on how your body moves each time you inhale and exhale.
- Keep a tab of your body movement as you breathe.
- Observe your shoulders, rib cage, chest, and belly.
- Focus your attention on your breath (do not control its pace or intensity).
- If ever you find your mind wandering, put your focus back to your breath.
Do this meditation for 2-3 minutes to start with. In subsequent sessions, try it for longer periods.
When is a good time to meditate?
Though you can do meditation at any time, the auspicious time is to meditate at 4 AM and 4 PM.
Any theory behind it? It is said that the the earth and the sun are at 60 degrees angle. So being in a sitting (and meditating) position at these times will help balance two glands- the pituitary and pineal glands, thereby giving you maximum results.
Doing meditation early in the morning or late at night is good because you will come across a lot of quietness at these times.
Try and meditate at the same time every day. It helps create balance, and helps you make meditation as part of your life.
So, if you are trying to meditate, here are simple tips:
- Posture: Doing a chair-sit or sitting cross-legged on the floor, see to it that your spine is in an upright position with your head up. If you are slumped (by any chance), then your mind will drift. If your body is in a well-balanced posture, your mind will also be.
- Eyes: Keep your eyes open. They allow you to be more present. Close your eyes and your mind will drift away on thoughts and stories.
- Focus: When you put your focus on meditation, it means you are paying soft attention.
- Breath: Get a hang of your breath streaming in and out. No need to regulate your breath –let it be natural.
- Count your breath: This is an ancient meditation practice. When you breath out, count 1, 2 3, 4. Then return to 1.
- Thoughts: Occupied by thoughts? Gently let them go by returning your focus to the breath. Not telling you to STOP your thoughts (or else it will make you agitated).
- Emotions: If you are in the midst of “strong” emotions, it can be difficult to stay focused on meditation. The way to handle “strong” emotions is MEDITATION. It will focus on the feelings of your body that come with emotion.
- Silence: You will agree on the premise – that silence is healing. Whenever we sit in silence, we get a hang of what our mind is doing, doesn’t it?
- Length: Begin with Ten minutes. Sit longer whenever you feel the length is too short. Never force yourself to meditate for a longer time, if you are not ready to do that. Time the length of your meditation depending on what you feel right. Let your body decide on the time which is comfortable for you. Nothing should be out of force or compulsion.
- Place: Make a special place for you to sit and meditate – it can be a shrine or an altar which you can face while doing meditation. Tip – Put a candle on your altar and objects (Stones, sea shells, or flowers) that hold meaning to you.
- Enjoyment: This is the most important thing – enjoy meditation. Nothing works better unless you don’t enjoy the process.
So, when are you starting your Meditation? You will love it, as much as your core, soul and health. Write in your comments and tell us how you found this blog.