Meditation, achieving a deep peace of mind for the purpose of physical or mental improvement, might seem otherworldly to most of us who are used to Western medicine, but this practice has some astounding benefits for the body and soul regardless of your place on the map. Anyone in a busy office can tell you how important a few moments of peace are. That elusive tranquility is exactly what mediation is: Tuning out the noise of the world in order to recover mentally and physically.
What are the emotional benefits of meditation?
- Gain the ability to re-evaluate stressful situations and approach them with a clear sense of purpose
- Relieve stress and learn how to cope with stress
- Increase self-awareness
- Eliminate negative emotions
- Streamline focus to issues at hand
What are the physical conditions can benefit from meditation?
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Chronic pain
- Substance abuse
Meditation Actually Restructures Your Brain
Inner peace is not reserved for reclusive monks in cloud-shrouded temples. The Mayo Clinic refers to meditation as a “mind-body complimentary form of medicine”, meaning you are using the power of your mind to create a physical response. While it may not be surprising to learn a little peace and quiet is good for your health, studies show meditation actually restructures your brain.
Harvard Medical School joined up with Massachusetts General Hospital to compare the brain structures of 16 test subjects in a meditation program. Their responses were compared to volunteers in a control group. The final results showed the meditating group had an increase in grey matter in the area of the brain associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, and empathy.
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” Britta Hölzel, Ph.D., one of the lead researchers, told The Epoch Times.
Types of Meditation
There are many different categories and sub-categories of meditation, but most of them fall into three main concepts.
- Transcendental Meditation: Otherwise known as TM, Transcendental Meditation is the use of a repeated word or phrase to induce extreme relaxation, slowing thoughts and relieving mental stress. This mantra is not spoken, contrary to popular belief, but is thought over and over in the mind of the user. True Transcendental Meditation is the use of mantra consisting of meaningless sounds, not words. Its roots are in the Indian culture, and the practice is said to originate from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
- Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness Meditation is the concentration of breathing while observing—mentally or visually—something considered neutral. An example would be controlled breathing while watching ducks on a pond. This method implies a desire for deeper understanding; you’re not just watching the ducks, but reflecting and contemplating their actions. This meditation is sometimes called Vipassana or Insight Meditation.
- Visualization Meditation: Used most often for healing, Visualization Meditation uses controlled breathing and mental visualization to heal a part of the body. By picturing a broken bone mending during deep concentration, the brain will, in theory, accept the subconscious cues as reality, mending the injured body part faster than with traditional methods.
All forms of meditation include conscious breathing exercises. Dr. Andrew Weil, advocate of integrative medicine, said of breathing method as reported by the University of the Heart, “Breathing is special in several respects: it is the only function you can perform consciously as well as unconsciously, and it can be a completely voluntary act or a completely involuntary act, as it is controlled by two sets of nerves, one belonging to the voluntary nervous system, the other to the involuntary (autonomic) system. Breath is the bridge between these two systems.”
How to Meditate At Home?
So how can you experience the benefits of meditation at home?
Simple breathing meditation technique:
- Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.
- You do not have to sit with your legs crossed, but your back needs to be straight to prevent the mind from wandering or becoming sleepy.
- Close your eyes fully or partially.
- Breathe naturally through the nostrils, aware of each breath as it enters and leaves the body.
- The feeling of breathing is what meditation centers on. Ignore your thoughts and focus only on the breathing. You’ll know you’ve become distracted when you realize your breath is following your thoughts and not the other way around.
Basic mantra meditation technique:
- You will need to be proficient at the basic breathing method to perform mantra meditation.
- Find a quiet place and sit comfortably.
- As in the basic breathing method, your spine should be straight. Concentrate on your breathing.
- Your eyes should be closed or partially open. In your mind—not out loud—repeat a mantra of relaxation starting with your eyes.
- It should go something like, “My eyes are relaxed. My mouth is relaxed. My neck is relaxed. May shoulders are relaxed.”
- Work all the way to your feet. Repeat the mantra until you can do it without thought.
- More advanced mantra meditations will use sounds rather than words.
Learning basic meditation techniques will open up doors to more advanced methods like Yoni Mudra, Journey Meditation, Vibrational Meditation, and Central Channel Meditation.
We live in a world where medications are readily available for most of what ails us. Before you reach for that bottle of pills, consider the benefits of meditation. Even if you have no physical issues, the mental relaxation may help enhance your daily activities, leading to a more successful and fulfilling life.Need some mentors? Meditation techniques have been used by the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein, Bruce Lee, Allen Ginsberg, and Clint Eastwood.