What is Meditation
Many people talk about meditation, meditating, but what does it really involve?
Meditation is simply bringing your awareness into the present moment. By doing this, you can achieve a myriad of benefits which will start within and extend into every aspect of your lives and for any decision making of your day-to-day.
Many meditation practices are based on, or incorporate some breathing techniques. Some of those techniques are straight forward (following the in-breath and the out-breath) while others are more involved like Yogic type of breaths.
The breath, is the tool which allows us to go deeper and find the calmness and centring within.
What Happens with Meditation
Meditation, when done correctly, can move the brain waves from a higher frequency to a lower frequency having not only the ability to change how we feel, but how we heal too.
Alpha waves are the brain waves that occur at the beginning of meditation as you try to go into a deeper state. Alpha waves calm the nervous system while lowering the blood pressure and heart rate. They also reduce the production of stress hormones and promote relaxation.
Beta waves create awareness and improve concentration. They increase logical thinking and develop your conversational abilities.
Theta waves provide a positive mental state and encourage creativity. They improve your problem-solving skills and increase your memory. The waves improve your focus and keep you calm and balanced.
Gamma waves are associated with intense focus and decrease anxiety and fear while increasing positive emotions. They reduce depressive feelings and symptoms.
Delta waves are associated with the deepest stages of sleep. They increase the production of two anti-aging hormones, DHEA and melatonin. They help promote deep compassion and empathy for others, improve social intelligence, and avoid conflict. These waves facilitate quick healing
Benefits of Meditation
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Boosts our immune system following reduction of stress levels.
- Brings self awareness helping us to deal with last minute stressors.
- Helps in focusing and mental sharpness reducing ageing process.
- Can enhance feelings of compassion and loving kindness toward oneself and others.
- Improves sleep.
- Helps in controlling and reducing pain.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Can be practiced anywhere once you have mastered the right type of meditation for you.
Which Types of Mediation should I Choose
Meditation is no different to how diet or exercise affects our body as individuals.
Some meditation techniques will really appeal to us and as we practice them we feel straight “at home”, while others will be really hard to follow. We are unique within our oneness and there are many ways to connect to that inner source which is revealed to us through regular meditation.
You may need to try a few, before one really appeals to you as some people will prefer to be guided by someone’s voice, while others will prefer the more silent type of meditation.
Here are a few types of meditation to choose from:
- Mindful meditation – involves focusing in the moment with the help of the breath
- Spiritual meditation – usually affiliated to or goes with a spiritual practice
- Focused mediation – again with the help of the breath and focusing on an object like a candle
- Movement meditation – with Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Walking, Gardening, painting, being creative. Thich Nhat Hanh (famous Buddhist monk, teacher and peace activist) used to talk about many of these movement meditation. See https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/meditate
- Mantra or chanting meditation – will involve repeat of mantras, the most commonly known being the sound “OM”. The repetition of the mantra calms the body and mind.
- Transcendental meditation – Induces wellness and inner peace. See https://uk.tm.org to find a qualified teacher
- Body scan relaxation which includes progressive relaxation through guided imagery to relax the muscles of your body from head to toes.
- Loving kindness meditation involves opening to the feelings of love and compassion. The HeartMath Institute has many aids and guidance in Heart-Centred Meditation. See https://www.heartmath.com/blog/heartmath-tech/new-guided-heart-meditations/
- Visualisation meditation – Uses your power of imagination and being able with guidance to visualise and create a scene or imageries which may be, or not, related to some spiritual figure that one holds in high esteem. Not everyone is good at visualising so it may not be suitable for everyone but if you are, it induces a deep sense of calm and peace.
How to Start
Before you choose which type of meditation is best suited for you, find a place at home where you will be undisturbed and make it special – special for you. Light a candle, and put some relaxing music if you wish unless you have chosen to be in silence. Burn some incense, and sit comfortably with your back straight either on the floor, or on a chair or a sofa. It is important to have your back straight instead of being slouched or half reclined, as your breath will circulate more freely through your vital organs and reach your lower abdomen.
Then start with your chosen meditation. Don’t get disheartened if the first few days you cannot achieve more than 5 or 10 minutes. It is like taking up jogging. You will never start running for an hour if you have never run before. You will start with five to ten minutes and will increase accordingly. If your mind wanders and thoughts fill your head, do not worry, it is very normal. As time goes by, the thoughts will become like clouds in the sky coming and going, and occasionally between the clouds you can see the blue sky. The same will happen withy meditation between thought and thought all of a sudden there will be no-thought, emptiness. It may not last very long but it will be there.
You can practice it once a day (morning or evening), or even twice daily. Ensure your stomach is not full as you may fall asleep and not reap the many associated benefits.
So relax, enjoy and choose the technique which will best resonate with you.
At the end of the day, the main goal of meditation is coming back within, where not only we will have all the answers we need for our daily life but where we will also be able to heal all aspects of our lives (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual).
NOTE: Proceed with caution with any type of meditation if you have experienced severe trauma at some point in your life or have severe PTSD. You may need help and guidance in choosing the right type of meditation to start with.
There are some widely available Apps if you want to listen on the go like headspace – https://www.headspace.com