We often hear about meditation and its benefits from our friends and elders and it seems quite interesting to imagine yourself doing it but do we actually know what meditation is and how it can exert positive effects on our personalities. To realize its importance we first need to understand the meaning of meditation.
What is meditation?
The word ‘meditation’ is basically derived from an old French word ‘meditacioun’ which means to ponder or to think. In simple words meditation is the ability of our mind to think deeply about something or focus on a particular thing for a period of time. Scholars say that it is an attempt to get beyond the logic to achieve deeper, more devout and relaxed state of mind.
Types of meditation
There are two major styles of meditation: Focused attention meditation, and open monitoring meditation.
1. Focused attention meditation
FAM entails the voluntary focusing of your attention to one particular object. That is if you concentrate your attention to a single thing, sound, sight or a thought. It may involve focusing on breathing or a calming sound.
2. Open monitoring meditation
OMM encourages a broad spectrum awareness of all the aspects of your life, environment, train of thought and a sense of self. It might include awareness of your thoughts, feelings or impulses that you may normally try to suppress.
How to meditate?
The beauty and simplicity of meditation is that you don’t need heavy and expensive equipment. All you need is a calm and quiet space and some time from your busy routine daily. You can start with five to ten minutes a day to as long as you want. It depends on you what time of a day you choose, but it’s preferable to meditate in the morning and usually at same time daily so that it will become your habit and you won’t feel good without doing it. All you have to do is to choose a comfortable and calm place within your comfort zone, sit on a floor mat or a chair whatever you like with your back straight. Close your eyes and focus on the object you chose. Now breathe slowly, deeply and gently. During breathing try to keep your mind focused on the object, if you feel distracted or your mind wanders, steer it back to the center. If you like, you can surround your meditation zone with scented flowers, incense sticks and candles. Practice it daily to make it your habit.
Health benefits of meditation
Although the practice of meditation is quite old but the research on its benefits is relatively new and promising. Just give a read to the amazing health benefits.
1. Stress Reliever
It would not be wrong to say meditation acts as a stress reliever. Although you may not be able to eradicate stress from roots, you can still minimize its effects on your body by practicing meditation. Normally, stressful conditions either physical or mental lead to production of a hormone ‘cortisol’ which further produces inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines produce sleep disturbance, headaches, anxiety, depression and even high blood pressure. Research shows meditation helps body fight stress and stress related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, PTSD etc.
2. Promotes Emotional Health
Some forms of meditation lead to an improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life. It brings about emotional stability in your thought process. It improves self confidence.
3. Decrease Blood Pressure
Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who practice meditation regularly. This can reduce strain on heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.
4. Improves Sleep
Nearly half a population suffers from insomnia. A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the triggers that interfere with your sleep. This reduces the time to fall asleep and also improves the quality of sleep.
5. Fights Dementia
As meditation helps in improvement of attention and clarity of thoughts, it may keep your mind and body young. Regular practice of meditation helps increase memory and as such it may help fight age related memory loss or dementia.
6. Helps Reduce pain and fight addictions
Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in your brain. It works as a medicine in chronic pain sufferers. Also it develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid unwanted triggers and impulses. This helps you recover from addictions and get rid of unwanted habits.