Practicing meditation has always been the talk of the town for various reasons. The goal of meditation is a simple yet vast topic to explain. Even though it varies from person to person, but generally the goals of meditation are enlightenment, self-awareness and liberation which ultimately foster overall well-being!
Is meditation worth a try? What are the different types of meditation? Is it hard to practice meditation? How to achieve the goal of meditation? Well, all these questions are not unheard of. In this article, we will explore meditation thoroughly and have all your questions answered!
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation originated from the Eastern traditions like Ayurvedic practices in India. As time passes, it is now spread and practiced all over the world with increasing popularity in the West.
The roots of meditation belong to yoga and yogabhyas (study of yoga) where you energize your inner strength and try to bring harmony between the body and mind. Meditation is a part of the yogabhyas which helps you regulate your thinking process and direct you towards the stillness of mind.
Meditation is not about being a different new person. In actual, it is a process of redirecting your thoughts to calm your mind. Practicing meditation is a wellness practise that reaps numerous health benefits. Since there are varying practices across cultural, spiritual and religious traditions, there are tons of ways to meditate.
TYPES OF MEDITATION
Frankly speaking, there is no “right way” to meditate. It is all about exploring different types of meditation and find one that works truly for yourself, meeting your needs and complementing your personality.
The following explains various popular types of meditation:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
This is the most popular meditation technique in the Western world. In this type of meditation, you simply just pay full attention and take note of your thoughts without judging them. You let go of negativity and just calm both your mind and body.
Mindfulness meditation is all about awareness and concentration. You can practice it alone.
2. Visualization Meditation
Visualization meditation is a technique focusing on increasing relaxation and peace of mind through picturing positive scenarios, images, ideas or experiences. Many people do use this technique to boost their mood and promote inner calmness.
3. Focused Meditation
This type of meditation allows you to focus on a single object or a particular stimulus as a specific focal point. The focus could be on anything like smells, sounds or even on your own breathing. This technique might be simple in theory, but is actually quite difficult for beginners at first as they try to hold their focus for long time.
Well, practice makes perfect! The more you practice focused meditation, the easier it will become. Focused meditation is suitable for people who require more focus in their life.
4. Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-Kindness Meditation is another well-known meditation technique to strengthen feelings of kindness, acceptance and compassion. This practice involves opening up yourself to receive love from others as well as extending your feelings of kindness and love to people around.
Those people who frequently put Loving-Kindness Meditation in practice tend to increase their capacity for self-acceptance, forgiveness and connecting to others. Loving-Kindness Meditation is ideal for those who hold feelings of resentment or anger.
5. Progressive Relaxation Meditation
This practice of meditation aims to reduce your tension in the body and promote relaxation and calmness. To execute progressive relaxation, you need to slowly tighten and then relax one muscle group at a time. Progressive relaxation is perfect for reliving stress and anxiety.
6. Mantra Meditation
“Om” “Om” “Om”…Well, you must have come across with people repeating words during meditation, this is the famous Mantra Meditation. In this type of meditation, a mantra which is a syllabus, word, or phrase is continuously repeated during the practice. Many people prefer using mantra meditation to boost awareness, improve concentration and stay focused. People who enjoy repetition and don’t like silence may find mantra meditation a good and suitable practice for them.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
The popularity of meditation is on the rise as more people discover its numerous health benefits. Practicing meditation not only trains your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts but also helps develop positive mood, reduce stress, enhance self-awareness and so on.
Below highlights some key health benefits of meditation.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
In general, the most common reason that people meditate is to reduce stress level. We all face physical and mental stress in our lives because of work, relationship or other life issues. High level of stress greatly disrupts sleep, increases blood pressure as well as contributes to anxiety and depression. Research has shown that the practice of meditation helps improve symptoms of stress-related conditions and fosters stillness and calmness. Meditating helps channelize negative thoughts and energy outside of your mind, soul and energize emotions to fight depression. A study conducted by the American Association of Psychology also put forward that practicing mindful meditation significantly aids in fighting anxiety and depression.
As such, it is ideal to carry out habitual meditation as it can help improve stress reactivity and reduce anxiety and depression, thereby fostering mental health.
2. Fosters Emotional Health
Some forms of meditation can foster emotional health and help people develop a more positive outlook on life. A research study carried out among over 3500 adults regarding the impact of meditation on psychological stress and well-being found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression among participants. In another study where people completed meditation exercise, they tend to experience fewer negative thoughts and were more positive and pleasant compared to the control group.
As such, this shows that practicing some forms of meditation can generally improve depression and reduce negative thoughts among people, hence promoting emotional health and overall well-being ultimately.
3. Achieves Calmness and Stillness of Mind
A lot of negativity, unimportant thoughts, emotions affect our mind, soul and body everyday. If not handled properly, it may affect mental health significantly. Regular meditation helps clear your thoughts and achieve a state of calmness and stillness of mind.
A study at Harvard medical school put forward that practicing mindfulness meditation benefits people with chronic pain, depression and anxiety by helping them fight negativity and achieve mental calmness. Thus, try integrating meditation in your life to attain harmony between your body and mind.
4. Improves Heart Health
The American Heart Association systematically reviewed the benefits of meditation on cardiovascular risk. Neurophysiologic and neuroanatomical studies showed that meditation can have long-standing beneficial effect on lowering cardiovascular risk. Moreover, professor from Harvard Medical School also put forward that meditation plays an important and useful role in reducing cardiovascular risk. It helps reduce anxiety and stress which ultimately lowers blood pressure and heart rate while reducing harmful hormones.
Meditation is free of cost and has low risks of intervention, hence might be considered as a lifestyle modification to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve heart health.
5. Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Anxiety and fear tend to disturb our gastric system, which leads to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Practicing meditation helps reduce anxiety, depression and fear. It stimulates calmness and stillness of mind, hence fostering the relieve of irritable bowel syndrome and improving quality of life.
A nine-week pilot study carried out by Harvard affiliates found that meditation with relaxation practice had significantly improved the clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders among participants. They also experienced less anxiety and enhancement in overall quality of life.
GENERAL GOALS OF MEDITATION
- Improve concentration and focus
- Foster calmness and peace of mind
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Promote kindness and love
- Unlock creativity and inspiration
The general goals of meditation revolve around enhancing concentration, finding inner peace, relieving stress, spreading kindness and so on. As you make progress in your meditation journey, the ultimate goals lead towards enlightenment, self-awareness and liberation.
You can set your own goal of meditation at personal or even spiritual level, this depends entirely on your mindset and current situation in life. Remember to try various types of meditation methods to find out the best form that complements your personality and suits your needs.
ACHIEVEMENT OF GOALS WITH MEDITATION
Goals: Reduce anger, resentment and frustration. Increase capacity for forgiveness and compassion and kindness.
Meditation: Loving Kindness Meditation
Goals: Boost self-awareness, enhance concentration and stay focused.
Meditation: Mantra Meditation
Goals: Increase focus of mind and concentration especially for children
Meditation: Single Point Meditation
Goals: Let go of negativity and impulsive reactions. Improve focus, memory and relationship satisfaction.
Meditation: Mindfulness Meditation
HOW TO MEDITATE ?
Essential Criteria to a Meditation Practice
(a) The use of a defined technique
(b) Logic relaxation
(c) A self-induced state
(d) Psychophysical relaxation
(e) Self-focus skill
(f) A state of mental silence
(a) Seated Meditation (in a chair or on a sofa)
(b) Lying Down Meditation
(c) Standing Meditation
(d) Walking Meditation
You can start meditating for 5 – 10 minutes at the beginning and slowly increase to 20 – 30 minutes at least per day. The time you choose to meditate should be your most relaxed time, without any focus on your work.
The best time for meditation is early morning between 5 -7 am. You may also try squeeze time in the evening after your work or at night before going to bed.
You should find a comfortable, peaceful environment where you can meditate alone without any disturbance.
(1) Sit in a comfortable position
(2) Observe and feel your body
(3) Close your eyes
(4) Focus on your breathing
(5) Ignore upcoming or negative thoughts
(6) Allow your mind to be free
(7) Open your eyes
(8) Observe the surroundings
(9) Note your emotions and thoughts
(10) End the meditation
Practicing meditation is an easy feat. In this day and age, you can watch different types of meditation practice and try out on your own in a comfortable, peaceful environment. There are various techniques and forms of meditation. Do try multiple ways of meditation and choose the best one that fits your goal of meditation!
Start practicing meditation today and enjoy the harmony between your body and mind.