Everything starts with the self. In order to bring more peace and happiness into the world, we must learn to be peaceful ourselves. There is a song lyric that says “For the confusions around are mere reflections of what is within me.” This lyric reminds us that what we see outside ourselves is simply a reflection of the layers within. These layers can be identified and worked on during certain types of meditation.
Meditation is a practice that consists of periods of uninterrupted focus. Meditation has countless benefits for the person who’s practicing and all the people they interact with. Meditation has been around for ages and is practiced by almost in every culture and almost in every religion and is considered a way of living for some people.
Health Benefits from Practicing Meditation
Meditation offers a world of stillness and calm that can reduce stress and restore your inner peace. Here are some of the physical and mental benefits that have been discovered in mediation studies.
Prevents age-related brain structure deterioration
Statistic says major advances in health care and public health has increased life expectancy around the world. Meditation, however, can be a possible candidate in terms of a positive approach to increasing attention, memory, verbal fluency, or overall cognitive flexibility and even creativity. Studies have shown that meditation has an effect on protecting the brain age-related tissue decline giving meditation more chances of helping people prone to Alzheimer’s disease.
Increases memory capacity
Mindfulness training or the ability to attend to a certain task without distraction or staying on that despite distraction is difficult yet it studies have shown that it is an effective and efficient tool for improving cognitive function. Mind wandering can be reduced therefore increasing memory capacity.
People say when you are angry to breathe and count slowly from one to ten. This is extremely helpful especially when dealing with stress and anger. However, there are also patients who are diagnosed with a mood disorder that have been practicing meditation techniques and has shown to have been effective. The study said it was more effective especially for those with nonpsychotic mood and anxiety disorders.
Slows the aging process
Smiling makes you look young. Increased mind training and meditation can help training the mind and the heart to be youthful and light. Aside from that, smiling begets smiling so it can definitely make the world a better place to live with. Mindfulness training has been studied to reduce cognitive stress and increase a more positive state of mind with constant practice.
Reduces chronic inflammation
Mindfulness meditation may offer a complementary treatment to standard treatment especially in cases such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, as stated in a study. The study conducted and designed behavioral interventions for patients suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions and the mindfulness techniques seemed to be more effective in improving symptoms as well as increasing well-being.
Aside from calming the mind, improving focus, and reducing stress; developing mindfulness meditation has shown to reduce stress-induced immune and behavioral responses. Individuals who actively engage in meditation techniques have shown to exhibit reduced reaction and anxiety to stressful situations, therefore, prolonging life and saying goodbye to sickness and disease.
Tips for Starting and Maintaining an Effective Meditation Practice
Make it a habit
Habits are activities that do not require effort or forethought. They are known as tasks that you have gotten used to such as showering, brushing the teeth, or riding the bus to and work. When linking meditation to one of such habitual tasks lessens the effort to start the meditation session.
Trying to start a new habit might take a lot of getting used to and may be difficult at first. However, making it an automatic activity like for example doing it upon waking up or before going to sleep can help greatly for your new habit to get rooted.
Start small initially
Establish the habit for short periods of time at first; such as starting at 10 minutes at a time. Once it becomes habitual then it becomes easier to lengthen or add more time to your meditation session.
Of course, once you are new in everything you do it is better to be guided. Training and guidance are essential especially when you are not sure what you do. Breathing techniques, relaxation, visualization, and mantra and especially mindfulness meditation can easily be achieved once you have something or someone to guide you through the experience. Smartphone apps can be helpful and many of them are free or inexpensive. Another bonus that goes with using an app on your phone is that you’ll be able to meditate almost anywhere you go. Of course, avoid meditation while driving or operating machinery and we recommend using headphones to make the experience more enjoyable.
Attend group meditations
Although practicing meditation is an individual activity, attending group meditations is also beneficial. Through group meditation, one can increase the commitment to meditate as well as learn and relearn through energies from other people. There is also that inspiring factor from a group. It also increases peace and understanding in a community.
Practice mindful breathing
Pranayama or mindful breathing helps to prepare the mind for the meditation activity. Aside from consciously relaxing the body it also calms the mind, therefore, slowing ones aging process. It also has been proved to help ease thoughts whenever anxious, stressed or having trouble falling asleep.
Alternate nostril breathing is an example which can clear the channels of the body’s circulation and can also restore balance in the mind and the body. Consistently trying to match the length of your inhales, pauses and exhales can help in refining this practice.
Add it to your schedule
Make meditating a priority and set a routine for it. Meditation is a date with yourself. Before helping others one must start with the self. Most of the time, if you are not set into doing something, it is easy to put other activities on top of it. Staying committed to the process can help your body and mind to relax once the activity draws near. It also makes sure that nothing will interfere with your commitment to yourself.
Create your own meditation space
In that small corner of your room, create a place for you to meditate in. Place blankets, or any props you can use to support yourself for the activity. Soft lighting, candles, and incense can also help to inspire you. You may want to add more things so help you absorb the vibrations of calmness. Eventually, this small space will guide your mind and helps start a relaxed response from you easily.
Consistency and regular practice can help you to achieve that level of health, peace, and happiness.
The Best Meditating Position, Different Approaches to Meditation
The position you choose during meditation can definitely impact the effectiveness of your meditation. The most common meditative positions are sitting, supine, and standing. The cross-legged seated posture is one of the most common. It guides the spine into proper alignment while allowing the arms and legs to rest in a place that minimizes movement and therefore, distraction. It’s very common, however, for beginners to feel uncomfortable in this position. Tight hip and low back muscles can make it feel very challenging to settle into this positon. If that’s true for you, you can try lifting your hips up using a folded blanket, yoga blocks, or a meditation cushion or stool. When the hips are lifted a bit higher than the knees, it allows them to release towards the floor with more ease and helps extend the top of the head toward the ceiling. If that is still uncomfortable to maintain, you can try sitting on a chair with your feet on the floor, back supported, and head free. When the head is free (instead of resting against the back of the chair) this helps reduce the risk of falling asleep during your mediation. Likewise, laying down for mediation can be comforting and is appropriate for some kinds of meditation, but the likelihood of drifting off to sleep instead of meditating is high. Lastly, you can choose to stand during meditation. This may be best for shorter duration meditations. Aligning your body in mountain pose will help energy flow through the body most efficiently.