Health, Life

What Is Meditation And What Can It Do For You?

Search Engine Journal

We live in stressful times, and more likely than not you have experienced some form of stress in the past few months. Aside from your personal concerns you might have to deal with, current events might not be helping your mind. Maybe you are occupied with work, or maybe you have kids to constantly take care of. Not to mention getting all your household chores done. And what about what the future might hold for you?

But you don’t have to let your thoughts get the better of you. By practicing meditation, you can calm your mind and reduce your stress by training yourself towards an awareness of the moment. It can lead you to awaken your thoughts, feelings, and sensations and allow yourself to observe them from a healthy perspective. It does not mean blocking unwanted thoughts and feelings, but accepting them and reconnecting with yourself.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a wellness practice using certain techniques to train your mind towards attention and awareness. These techniques are meant to lead you to achieve mental clarity and emotional calm.

Benefits of Meditation

Practicing meditation for even just a few minutes a day can have great benefits for both your psychological and physical health. It can significantly reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression while enhancing your sense of peace and well-being. It may even boost your immune system.

Because meditation helps you focus and heightens your alertness, it can help improve your ability to make decisions and solve problems. Focusing on the present can boost your concentration on your daily tasks.

Practicing meditation also helps you slow down and examine your thoughts and feelings. Self-reflection can increase your self-awareness and improve your self-esteem.

Engaging in mindfulness meditation can lower your stress hormone, making you feel more relaxed. On the other hand, chanting a mantra while meditating can have a calming effect.

Focusing on the present can also reduce your likelihood of dwelling on anxious thoughts that may trigger depression. However, if your anxiety stems from a history of trauma, consult with a mental health professional before attempting meditation. The practice can aggravate symptoms of trauma survivors.

How to Take Hold of Your Thoughts

The idea that you need to totally clear your mind while meditating might discourage you. But the fact is your mind can’t help but wander, whether you are new to meditation or are already experienced. You can’t stop your thoughts from coming and you can’t force yourself to not think. The important thing is to just observe these thoughts. If they get out of control, try to bring your attention back to your breath or to another focal point.

How to Get Started

When you are just starting with meditation, start with a more realistic goal of around three minutes in the morning or in the evening. Attempting a longer session too soon might just leave you feeling frustrated if you have a difficult time staying with it. Just like with any skill, you need practice. Find a comfortable seated position and gradually work your way up to 10 to 20 minutes of meditation per day.

Types of Meditation

One thing that may hamper people from trying meditation is the misconception that it is hard to do or requires formal training. You might think that it is a mystical practice reserved for certain religious or spiritual beliefs. While some types of meditation are specific to religions, there are many other types of meditation and many different ways to practice it.

There are six main kinds of meditation, namely mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, spiritual meditation, mantra meditation, movement meditation, and Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Mindfulness meditation focuses on the present and being fully engaged with what you are currently doing, thinking, or feeling. You pay attention to the moment and observe without judgment.

Focused meditation involves concentrating on any of your five senses. A common concentration point in this type of meditation is your breath, but it can also be an external point such as counting mala beads or staring at the flame of a candle. If you find your mind wandering, just refocus on the object of your concentration.

Spiritual meditation is used in religions such as Hinduism, Daoism, and Christianity. Practicing this form of meditation is like a prayer that gives you a deeper connection to your faith.

Mantra meditation uses a repetitive sound or mantra to clear your mind. A popular sound used in mantras is “Om”. Chanting can be done aloud or quietly and it leads you to become in tune with your environment.

Movement meditation is an active form of meditation where you move your body in a way that brings you peace. It is not limited to practices like yoga but may come as naturally as walking, swaying, or dancing.

Transcendental Meditation is a popular form of meditation wherein you are given a custom mantra by a TM instructor. The mantra is customized specifically for each practitioner.

These are just some major types of meditation. There are many others that you might want to explore, such as visualization, chakra meditation, Zen meditation, and more. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. You just need to find the right practice that works for you.