Meditation can provide a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits to those who dedicate some time out of each day to sit in silence and let their minds clear of any thoughts and feelings. More research from a variety of sources, continues to prove the myriad ways that meditation can improve your life and your overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.
If you are intimidated by meditation, introduce yourself to the practice and learn how you can meditate with ease. Beginners can also benefit from reading this blog post on what you need to know about meditation before you begin.
The Effects of Meditation on Body and Mind
The practice of meditation can help lower emotional stress levels while at the same time decreasing the level of stress hormones in the body. It can also improve cognitive function, focus, and concentration, which will result in enhanced performance at work and in school. And many other positive changes occur within the person who meditates, including increased levels of compassion and creativity, less depression and anxiety, and the ability to lose weight and sleep better. Plus, meditation has been shown to have protective effects on the brain and the entire body, reducing the risk of mental illness while strengthening the immune system. But these are just a few of the many great things that meditation can do for you.
Meditation to Resolve Problems in Your Life
Meditation is quite simple in that it allows you to find a quiet space in which you can sit comfortably, close your eyes, and try to tap into your higher self or to the universal power that surrounds you. It is all about letting go of the ego and listening to your own soul to overcome an obstacle or question you have been facing. The idea is that, by turning inward and focusing upon your own intuitive powers, you will find the answers that you have not been able to find outside of yourself. In order to hear your deeper self, though, you need to become silent, and that is the hardest aspect of the meditative practice.
More Than One Type of Meditation to Choose From
A lot of people don’t realize that there are many different types of meditation to choose from, so it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all practice. Instead, you can try out different forms of meditation and, based on how each makes you feel, choose the one that is best for you. No matter what type you like most, however, you will still reap the many benefits of this practice and notice dramatic shifts throughout the many different facets of your life.
Mindfulness is the most well known of all the different types of meditation and, therefore, the most popular. It is also referred to as Vipassana and it is based in Buddhist traditions. During this type of meditation, you simply sit quietly with your eyes closed. But instead of forcing your thoughts to go away, you accept them and then let them go without focusing on them. As the thoughts come and go, you also observe the sounds around you. So, again, this meditation is not about blocking everything out and sitting in complete silence. Rather, it is about accepting the present moment and your thoughts just as they are.
During mindfulness meditation, you also focus on the breath as it flows gently into and out of your nose, bringing oxygen throughout the entire body. While you may be observing the breath, though, you are not actively changing it. Instead, you are simply letting it be, along with everything else around you and all of the other sensations you are experiencing as you sit in a relaxed and comfortable position.
If mindfulness meditation sounds right for you, give it a try by taking this course, which is appropriate for everyone.
Based in Vedanta, Kundalini is a form of yoga as well as a meditative practice. According to this school of thought, there is an upward stream of energy, referred to as kundalini, within each person. During this type of meditation, the goal is to become aware of this energy and tap into it as it moves through the chakras, or energy centers, throughout the body, from the base of the spine all the way to the top of the head.
Paying attention to the breath is an integral component of kundalini meditation because it is the breath that allows you to connect with this stream of energy that moves up your entire body. The breath is used to help this energy move and flow upward and out of the top of your head. This type of meditation can be difficult, though, and requires practice.
Focused meditation is yet another popular form of meditation because it brings your mind into a calmer state by focusing upon a mantra, an object, a sound, or a thought. Therefore, you do not need to worry about achieving complete silence like you do in other forms of meditation, nor do you have to worry about controlling the breath. Instead, you simply focus on one thing, clearing your mind of all other thoughts, stressors, and emotions.
You can sit in a quiet and calm space to focus on your mantra or positive thought, or you can even play some relaxing music and just focus on the sounds. Either way, people feel rejuvenated and relaxed after this practice. It is effective because it encourages the mind to focus on one thing only, whereas the rest of the day you are probably thinking about many things at the same time.
Focused meditation is a good choice for those whose minds are always going. Take this course, to learn ways to slow down the mind and be in the present moment.
Mantra meditation uses ancient Sanskrit mantras that are actually spoken aloud in order to focus the mind firmly upon the sounds and vibrations that are created by these words or phrases, which are repeated 108 times in the Hindu tradition. This method helps clear the mind of all other thoughts and bring about the positive effects associated with each mantra. Some mantras are chanted for healing, for example, while others are chanted to remove negative energy from a space. It’s believed that the vibrations caused by these ancient sounds activate certain areas within the brain that have positive physical effects on the body, including relieving stress and promoting healing. And in addition to chanting Sanskrit mantras, there are also modern phrases that can be repeated in order to reinforce positive emotions and changes within an individual.
Guided meditations are popular because you don’t need to focus so much on completely eliminating all thoughts. These types of meditations can be done in rooms full of people or in the comfort of your own home with the help of a recording. Sometimes they offer guided visualizations that help you to imagine a beautiful setting that brings you peace. Other times, these meditations simply guide you through the steps of tapping into the movement of your breath and clearing your mind by focusing upon a specific mantra or positive phrase. Music or relaxing soundscapes may also accompany these meditations in order to bring about a feeling of calm and help you free your mind and your body from all of the stress you’ve been under.
Zazen translates to “seated meditation,” and it’s used within the Buddhist and Zen traditions. The key is to sit with the back straight and simply let the breathing be natural, without paying any particular attention to it. This type of meditation is enjoyed over long periods of time, making it difficult to learn and master, especially since it also involves focusing upon Buddhist scripture, a story, a question, or even a paradoxical idea. Beyond sitting straight and focusing the mind in silence, there isn’t a lot of guidance that comes from the outside with this type of meditation. Therefore, it isn’t a popular form of meditation in the Western world and it’s usually practiced only by Buddhist monks.
Again, with so many different types of meditations to choose from, you can find the one that’s the right fit for you and your lifestyle. A guided meditation may be a good place to start, as it will give you some tools to help you slow down and clear you mind. Once you become more familiar with meditative techniques, you can then begin to try sitting in complete silence, letting the mind rest while being aware of your surroundings and tapping into the intuitive and creative powers that lie within.
Maintaining a meditative practice can be hard, though, especially because of the hectic lives that people lead. But meditation can become a habit by always setting aside time for it and by taking a course like the 10 Day Meditation Challenge, which will help you establish a routine for meditating each day.