The Numerous Health Benefits Of Meditation

Fresh meditationThe word meditation, for those who have never tried it, conjures up a tranquil picture of a yogi in flowing robes sitting at the edge of a riverbank. The truth of the matter is that the robes, the riverbank, and even the picturesque sitting position are not required. Meditation is a highly practical and healthy way to dissipate the stress that comes with a crazy, fast-paced lifestyle. In fact, an experienced meditator can find inner peace in the midst of the most demanding situation, even during a job interview or a visit from the in-laws. These types of meditation skills can improve anyone’s health – and life in general – for the better.

Wellness Tips – What is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice of internal relaxation and reflection. Most meditation techniques involve clearing the mind of the clutter and buzz of everyday life. Some of the most common meditation techniques are surprisingly easy for beginners to learn. They include:

Guided meditation: an instructor usually leads guided meditation, helping students to conjure up relaxing situations using all of their senses. The subjects think of the way the place looks, smells, sounds, feels around them, and even tastes. This provides meditators with an escape from their usual negative thoughts and allows them to relax in their own imaginary space.

Mantra meditation: the meditator repeats a mantra of their choosing (any word or phrase) over and over to achieve a state of calm. Repeating the mantra keeps other thoughts from creeping in.

Mindfulness meditation: the person focuses on the moment, noticing breathing, heartbeat, and other oft-forgotten elements. Instead of blocking out thoughts, the meditator allows them to flow and leave naturally (Mayo Clinic).

Typical meditation sessions last 10-20 minutes. The time frame is not set in stone, though, so and individual can meditate for as short or long a period as is needed. If time is of the essence, even a few minutes of meditation can make a difference.

MeditationMeditation Health Benefits

The medical community is still skeptical of many alternative and holistic treatments, but the health benefits of meditation have now been widely accepted, and it has even been adapted into some treatment programs. Meditation techniques are used as complementary treatments for patients suffering from a variety of ailments, including depression, high blood pressure, and addictions. Doctors generally do not recommend meditation to patients who are unable to sit for long periods of time or who have respiratory problems, but these patients can experience meditation health benefits by using the mental principles of the practice.

Even if you don’t suffer from clinical depression, meditation can help you both physically and mentally. Stress is an omnipresent plague in most people’s lives and can cause a slew of alarming problems, ranging from insomnia to a weakened immune system and even to heart attacks (NIH). Reducing stress is a medically proven way to improve your overall health and happiness, and meditation is a medically proven stress reliever (WebMD).

This is no empty hype. Meditation health benefits really can make a difference in your life if you struggle with stress. And almost all of us struggle with some form of stress, brought on by work, relationships, responsibilities, and the countless other factors that press in upon us every day.

The main reason people shy away from meditation is likely because it seems intimidating. Who among us can live up to the yogi in the flowing robes, who seems to enjoy effortless and perpetual bliss and only has to eat once a week? Not many, but that doesn’t mean we cannot benefit from meditation.

That yogi is the meditative equivalent of a champion marathon runner. You may not be a champion marathon runner, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a jog. The same goes for meditation.

If you have never tried meditating, and if you’ve been looking at healthy living tips and want to give it a shot, there are plenty of easy ways to start:

Attend a yoga class: Many yoga classes incorporate meditation sessions and deep breathing, a principal of meditation. Taking a yoga class is a great first step into the meditation realm – just make sure to attend a slow yoga class, not a flow yoga or aerobic yoga class (those are more geared towards exercise). Some fitness centers actually offer meditation and relaxation classes; if you have the opportunity to attend one, take it.

Try a video: There are guided meditation videos available for sale, as well as for free on YouTube. The right video can get you started. Once you understand the basic principles, you can stop using the videos and continue meditating on your own. There are also some amazing audio technologies that help synchronize the left and right brain hemispheres with mind blowing effects. You can get a sample here.
Silhouette of a man figure meditating in the outdoors
Meditate on your own: The three meditation techniques mentioned earlier – guided meditation, mantra meditation, and mindfulness meditation – are fairly simple to execute, even without the help of a professional. First, find a quiet place free of distractions. You can stand, sit, or even lie down; just choose the posture in which you are most comfortable.

  • For guided meditation, think of an environment that makes you feel relaxed, like the beach. Focus on your senses one at a time to make the scene come to life. Watch the waves sparkling in the sunlight, hear the lapping of the water and the cry of distant gulls, smell the sharp, briny seawater scent, feel the wind in your hair. Immerse yourself in the scene fully.
  • If you would like to try mantra meditation, think of a word of a phrase that you find calming. It can be anything at all – many people choose ancient words in Sanskrit or other languages, but any word or phrase that calms you will do. Once you’ve chosen something, repeat your mantra over and over in your mind. Allow it to fill your thoughts completely and usher you into a tranquil state.
  • Mindfulness meditation requires you to notice your inner workings, both body and mind. Close your eyes and listen to the rhythm of your breathing, the beating of your heart. Take note of your thoughts, letting them pass through your mind and not focusing on any of them.

Meditation and Life

Meditation can easily be incorporated into your daily routine, and the practice comes with so many benefits that it is certainly worth a try. Many people credit meditation with helping them find balance and peace in their lives, while others use meditation to overcome stress, addiction, and other serious problems. The medical evidence supporting meditation health benefits is already substantial, and it is growing all the time.

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