Meditation has been practiced for many years and is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can help reduce stress, tension, worry and provide a sense of calmness to one’s day or situation. During meditation, you focus your attention and stop the stream of information overload and random thoughts to calm your mind and restore inner peace.
There are many health benefits to meditation, not just your emotional well-being but your overall health. The emotional benefits of meditation including: building skills to manage your stress, increasing self-awareness, reducing negative emotions, increasing imagination and creativity, and increasing patience and tolerance. Some research suggests that meditation may even improve medical conditions that are worsened by stress such as anxiety, asthma, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressures, sleep issues, and tension headaches.
While there are meditation centers and group classes led by an instructor, meditation can really be done anywhere and practiced by everyone. No special equipment is needed so it’s simple and inexpensive. Some people start their day with an hour of mediation while others find just a few minutes of quality time to restore calm and inner peace. The following are some techniques for everyday ways to meditate:
-Breathe deeply. Focus all the attention on breathing and listen as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Breathe deeply and slowly.
-Repeat a mantra. Simple mantras are syllables or vowel sounds such as the common “om” or “aum.” You can also create your own mantra with a phrase that is short and uplifting such as “I am calm,” “I am present,” or “My life is full of joy”.
-Walk and meditate. This is an efficient and healthy way to relax. Slow down your walking pace to focus on the movement of your legs and feet, repeat action words in your mind such as “lifting,” “moving,” and “placing.” Don’t focus on a particular destination.
-Engage in prayer. Prayer is the best known and widely used type of meditation. Speak or read a prayer from a religious tradition or pray using your own words.-Read and reflect. Read a poem, sacred text or listen to music or spoken words and reflect on their meaning. Write reflections in a journal or discuss with a friend or counselor. -Focus your love and gratitude. In this type of meditation, you focus your attention on an image or being, whether physically present or in your imagination, and think through the feelings of love, compassion and gratitude you have surrounding the image.
To learn more about meditation, visit mindful.org or headspace.com.