Over the years I have heard people talk about meditation and the need to quiet your mind. I remember sitting on my living room floor without a single TV or radio playing and trying to stop thinking. It didn’t work, so I never tried it again.
Lately, I have learned that there are many ways to meditate, and they don’t all involve shutting down all thoughts. “Our brain is like a wayward puppy, out of control. Catching it and putting it back to the object of focus is the mediation,” according to Mike Brooks, an Austin, Texas-based psychologist*.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation, a simple, easy and inexpensive way to calm your mind and find inner peace, has been practiced for centuries. The practice of meditation started as a way to help deepen your understanding of the mystical forces of life. Today, mediation is mainly used to help you relax and reduce your stress.
What makes meditation so popular is its simplicity. No special equipment, specific location or a certain position is needed to meditate. It can be as easy as focusing on your breath as you let go of each thought as it arises.
Is There More Than One Way to Meditate?
There are different types of meditations. A few of the popular types are listed below:
- Mindfulness: Also called “Vipassana”, is the most popular form of meditation in the western world and originates from a Buddhist tradition. As you become aware of your breathing, you let your thoughts and emotions run, being aware of each thought and emotion without judging or focusing on it.
- Transcendental Meditation: Comes from Hinduism. You sit with your back straight while repeating a mantra or sacred word. At more advanced levels, you focus on changing your breathing to change your state of being.
- Kundalini: You focus on the chakras as you concentrate on your breathing. While meditating, you start at the root chakra and focus on the energy while working your way upward to the crown chakra.
- Qi Gong: (pronounced CHEE-gung) A form of Taoist meditation has you focus your attention on your breathing while you envision circulating energy in and around your body and spirit. It combines relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore balance.
- Guided Visualization: Involves concentrating on an image or imaginary environment and many times is done while listening to a recording. Some recordings provide a method that you can use to meditate with or without the recording.
- Heart Rhythm Meditation: As you breathe full, deep, rhythmic breaths, you focus on different areas of your body to feel your heartbeat in that location.
You may also enjoy moving forms of meditation such as Tai Chi, Yoga and walking meditation where you focus your mind on a sound, movement, object or single thought.
Are There Mental Benefits to Meditating?
Meditation helps reduce information overload that can contribute to your stress. In doing so, you may feel the following:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved concentration
- Increased mental focus and memory
- Stabilized moods
- Handled stressful situations better
- Increased happiness
- Decreased negative emotions
- Improved self-awareness
What Are the Physical Benefits?
The physical benefits are still being debated, but there is growing scientific support showing that meditating does have medical benefits. Some of these benefits include the following:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreases muscle tension
- Boosts your immune system
- Increases your energy level
- Slows aging
Meditation doesn’t cure illnesses. If you have any serious illnesses, you should talk with your doctor about any pros and cons of meditation before you begin meditating.
To learn more about what happens to the brain during and after meditation, read this article on lifehacker.com.
Overall, meditating helps you de-stress by releasing stress from your system and preventing stress from getting into your system simultaneously. This occurs no matter which type of meditation you choose to do. It takes only 20 minutes or less daily and can be accomplished almost anywhere.
If you are interested in being part of a meditation group once a month, please contact Seeds of Wellness at 440-933-7733. If we have enough interest and a common day and time, we will start offering monthly meditation sessions.
* FastCompany.com article “Meditation Techniques for People Who Hate Meditation”.