What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that is rooted in various cultures and religions that aims to promote spiritual growth. Over the years, it has evolved several times and has been used to achieve mental clarity and a calm and stable emotional state by focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train awareness and attention.
Meditation has also been used to practice mindfulness, or the ability to be present and become fully engaged with whatever the person is doing in the moment.
How Does Meditation Work?
Meditation is used to train the mind in the same way that exercise trains the body. The aim of meditation is mindfulness which starts by bringing the attention to breathing. There are no special tools required to reach a meditative state, just the ability to stay focused in the present. During meditation, we pay attention to our thoughts, bodily sensations and surroundings as they happen. When the mind starts to wander to the future or past, we gently bring it back to the present.
There are different types of meditation that suit every person's needs. Some use it to relieve stress and anxiety, others aim to improve their concentration, and there are also many who incorporate meditation into their daily lives to connect with their inner selves and achieve their higher purpose. The most common types of meditation include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Transcendental Meditation
- Movement meditation
- Focused meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation
According to clinical psychologist Laura Maciuika, the best time for meditation is first thing in the morning and as part of a daily routine. It is also best performed when we are feeling stressed or at the end of the workday.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
Meditation can do a lot of wonders for the health like promote relaxation, lower cortisol levels in the blood and inspire positivity. All of these can help alleviate a wide range of health conditions such as the following:
- Panic attacks
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Excessive sweating
- Digestive problems
- Asthma and other respiratory conditions
What Can You Expect From Meditation?
Tuning your thoughts into the present and focusing on your breathing can be difficult at first, especially if your mind refuses to stay put. However, this is a natural process that everyone who meditates has gone through before they mastered the discipline. Be patient and you'll eventually get the hang of it.
A meditation session typically takes 20 to 45 minutes. Before you start your meditation, find yourself a quiet spot that's devoid of distractions such as loud music, TV, pets or people in a conversation. Silence is the key to achieving a meditative state. You can meditate alone or in a group, at home or at work, indoors or outdoors. Generally speaking, meditation is possible so long as you put your mind to it. Why, you can even work with a meditation teacher online through a videoconferencing platform.
Practising meditation every day will improve your concentration power and make you less affected by stressful situations. What's more, it's habit-forming and will make you realise one day that you can observe your thoughts as they unfold in the present without being affected by them at all.
Is Meditation Safe?
Meditation is a safe mind-body practice that is beneficial to people of all ages regardless of the state of their health. It is especially useful for psychological and emotional conditions like depression, anxiety, trauma and phobias, to name a few. There have been no reports of side effects associated with the practice of meditation.