A set of techniques that are projected to promote a finely tuned state of awareness and calmness, focused attention, and ease stress is called as meditation. This consciousness altering practice is supposed to have an ample number of benefits on psychological well-being also. Therefore, meditation market is expected to grow steadily to help ease mental health issues.
Meditation is an ancient mind, and body practice that has been used for its myriad of health benefits. It enhances calmness, presents physical relaxation, improves psychological balance, manages illness, and improves overall health and well-being. Several studies have been carried out to see how meditation works positively for a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, and pain. Similarly, researchers are learning the functioning and effects of meditation on the brain.
If you practice meditation on a daily basis then your performance at work place will get improved. Researchers say that meditation can enhance your focus and attention that leads to improved ability of multitasking. When you perform meditation, your mind gets clear and you can better focus on the present moment which highly boosts your productivity.
What is more, meditation can be a great solution for the growing need to diminish stress in the midst of busy schedules and challenging lives. If you are a beginner, guided meditation could be the best for you as you get a focal point and gentle instruction here that aids you connect and let go of self-judgment.
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Now, a few words on- how to meditate?
First of all, take a seat where you can feel calm. Initially, it’s good to set short time for meditation such as 5-10 minutes. Be in a position that makes you feel stable; you can either sit loosely cross-legged or sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.
Follow the sensation as you breathe in and breathe out. Here, you may lose attention from your breath and your mind may wander to other places. When you notice that your mind has wandered, simply bring your attention to your breath while being kind to your wandering mind. After 5 minutes, gently open your eyes; notice the environment, notice your thoughts, emotions and how your body feels. That’s how the meditation is practiced.
Let’s explore different types of meditations:
Generally, there are nine types of meditation practices, out of which you may go for practicing the one that meets your needs.
- Mindfulness meditation: This is one of the most popular and beneficial types of meditation. Here, you have to focus on your thoughts as they pass through your mind without judging the thoughts or getting involved with them. You just have to observe and consider the patterns if any. Mindfulness meditation brings out the combination of concentration and awareness. You can pay attention to an object or your breath followed by observation of any bodily sensations, feelings, or thoughts. People can practice this meditation on their own even without any instructor or guide.
- Focused meditation: Individuals can perform this type of meditation using any of the five senses. People may find practicing focused meditation bit difficult initially as they may fail to hold their focus for longer than a few minutes at first. Performing this meditation is the best for people who want to hone their focus and attention. Here, you can either focus on your breath (or other internal influencer) or you can take help of external influence to focus your attention.
- Spiritual meditation: This kind of meditation helps develop a profound understanding of spiritual or religious meaning while connecting you with a higher power. It’s good to practice spiritual meditation at a place of worship as it presents you with the spiritual growth.
- Movement meditation: Here, the movement assists you to achieve a deeper connection with your body and the present moment. Being an active form of meditation, this meditation is for those people who unearth peace in action and seek to develop body awareness.
- Transcendental meditation(TM): This is a definite practice that works to quiet the mind and provokes a state of peace and harmony with the use of mantra. It’s good to look for a certified TM practitioner to learn this practice. Individuals who seek an accessible approach to the depth of meditation can perform this type of meditation. .
- Mantra meditation: In this meditation, a repetitive sound including a word, phrase, or a sound such as “om” is used to clear the mind. For some people, this type of meditation is enjoyable as they can easily focus on a word than on their breath and some also like the feeling of the vibration of the sound in the body. If you don’t like silence and enjoy repetition, then mantra meditation is good practice for you.
- Body scan meditation: This type of meditation involves progressive relaxation where the tension in the body is reduced and relaxation is promoted. It involves gradual tightening and relaxing of one muscle group at a time all over the body. In some cases, you may have to imagine a mild wave flowing through your body that helps let go any tension. Body scan meditation is the best to relieve stress and calm down before bedtime.
- Loving-kindness meditation: It supports the feelings of kindness, compassion, and acceptance toward oneself and others. It makes you open your mind to accept love from others and then sending well wishes to near and dear ones and all living beings. This type of meditation is ideal for those embrace the feelings of anger or resentment.
- Visualization meditation: This technique boosts the feelings of peace, relaxation, and calmness with the visualization of positive images, scenes, or figures. Here, you imagine a scene clearly by using all five senses that adds all possible details. You can also hold a figure of your beloved or honored thing/person in mind with the purpose of embodying their qualities. Moreover, you can also imagine yourself succeeding at particular goals that lead to increase your focus and motivation. This type of meditation can be used to elevate mood, minimize stress levels, and encourage inner peace.
Here are a few things to know about what the science says about meditation for health:
- Did you know that for people suffering from cancer symptoms and side effects of treatment, meditation have been shown to ease stress, relieve anxiety, decrease fatigue, and general mood and sleep problems, thus enhancing their quality of life. There are some evidences from the Society for Integrative Oncology that recommend meditation, and other mind-body therapies, as part of a multidisciplinary approach to reduce mood disturbance, lessen anxiety, chronic pain, and perk up quality of life.
- Some research studies also suggest that meditation may decrease blood pressure. The American Heart Association implies that evidence is supporting the use of Transcendental Meditation (TM) as a complementary therapy along with the standard treatment to decrease blood pressure.
- To confirm that meditation decreases the symptoms of anxiety, there is still only moderate evidence. A 2014 review of the literature suggests that mindfulness meditation programs may improve anxiety, depression, and pain. However, there is little evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health-related quality of life.
- There are also some evidences suggesting that meditation-based programs can aid in easing common menopausal symptoms. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation-based programs together helps in reducing common menopausal symptoms such as stress, the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, sleep and mood disturbances, muscle and joint pain, etc..
- As per some research studies, mindfulness meditation can be good for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but no firm conclusions can be drawn due to insufficient evidence. Research study suggests that mindfulness training perks up pain and quality of life in IBS patients but doesn’t really help in reducing their depression or anxiety; and the amount of improvement was little.
- Again there is insufficient evidence to confirm the use of meditation for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Due to less number of studies performed on meditation for ADHD, no conclusions could be drawn about its usefulness for this mental health condition.
- In case of quitting smoking, there is not adequate evidence to confirm whether mind-body practices are as successful as other treatments. However, there have been a few studies on mindfulness-based therapies to help in smoking cessation.
- Moreover, meditation is commonly assumed to be safe for healthy people but people with physical limitations maybe unable to perform certain meditative practices especially the ones with movement.
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Now you know the basics of meditation, how to practice it, different types of meditation, and how it can be helpful in some health conditions. So, don’t be anxious to step out of your comfort zone and go for practicing the type of meditation that you prefer. You may have to consider giving a little trial and error until you find the best and the one that fits you.
Remember, meditation should not be a forced thing, if you force, then it becomes a chore. Just go for a moderate and regular practice so that it eventually becomes satisfying, encouraging, and enjoyable.