WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is an ancient practice that is known to improve our overall mental, spiritual and physical well-being. It has been found in some form across all cultures around the world, particularly eastern cultures, and has withstood the test of time. Now it is coming more to the forefront in the western world and it is estimated that tens of million of ordinary people now meditate worldwide and this number is growing, with good reason.
Wisdom traditions have long taught meditation as a path to spiritual awakening and modern science is now showing how this ancient practice can improve our health and well-being on many levels. It also helps us transform our relationship to the mind so that we no longer believe everything we think. This way we can discover who we are beyond it and find a part of ourself that is already deeply content with what is.
Meditation changes the frequency of the Brain from Beta waves - which is our normal state of consciousness, to Alpa waves - which is a more relaxed state, then to Theta waves - which are found in deep meditation and light sleep. This can dramatically reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and lead to a more calm state. With practice it is possible to then reach the Delta waves which is associated with deep sleep and known as transcendental meditation. When you enter this final phase automatic self healing of the body can take place.
WHY PRACTICE MEDITATION?
The reasons to meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In western cultures people are drawn to meditation to quiet the mind of racing thoughts and to reduce stress where as in eastern cultures it is considered to be more of a spiritual practice. Meditation gives rise to harmony of the Mind, Body and Spirit and of great benefit to our health and wellbeing.
Today, meditation is considered the highest form of relaxation and is also known to have numerous health benefits. It is a powerful way and proven way to take us out of the stress of our busy lives. It gives us the ability to focus on one area at a time and is not just about clearing our mind. With practice it can allow us to be able to see the changing circumstances of our lives and sometime find answers we are seeking.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION?
There are many benefits of meditation. In fact there have been over 1400 different areas of study on the benefits of meditation, all of which agree that it has positive benefits.
Reduces Stress – Meditation is a very effective to help combat stress as it lowers cortisol levels in the brain (stress hormone). It can also reduce symptoms in people with stress related medical conditions.
Controls Anxiety – Having a regular meditation practice helps reduce anxiety and and some mental health issues such as social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
Improves Emotional Health - Meditation can help people with depression as it can create a more positive outlook on life. Research shows that maintaining an ongoing habit of practicing meditation can help maintain these benefits in the long term.
Enhances Self-Awareness - Meditation can help you get to know yourself for who you truly are. This can be a starting point to help you make positive changes in your life.
Improves Intuition – Meditation helps you to trust your instincts instead of just listening to the mind.
Improves Concentration - Meditation can help improve your ability to redirect and maintain attention and can also improve creativity and productivity
Reduces Memory Loss - Regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity due to improved focus. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and even dementia.
Improves Relationships - Meditation helps us to understand ourself better and develop positive feelings for ourself and others. This increases empathy and more compassionate behaviour.
Fights Addictions - Meditation helps us develop mental discipline and willpower which can help with addiction, unwanted habits and even weight loss.
Improves Sleep - Certain meditation relaxation techniques can help control the "monkey mind" or endless thoughts that can interfere with our sleep. By meditating before bed we can fall asleep quicker and sleep quality is often improved.
Controls Pain – with practice meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain and can be used as a supplement to medical care.
Reduces Blood Pressure - Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time if you meditate regularly.
Prevents Heart Disease – Lower blood pressure helps reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.
Supports the immune system – Allowing us to be more able to fight off disease.
Make no mistake, meditation is a proven practice that really has positive benefits and can change your life for the better with just a little practice each day. When you feel as though you don't have the time to meditate, the reality is that you can't afford not to!
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COMMON QUESTIONS WHEN STARTING A MEDITATION PRACTICE
How often should I meditate?
It is recommended to aim for 7 days a week but at least 5 days out of 7 is very beneficial.This often then turns into a habit and be easier to stick to on a daily basis.
How long should I meditate for?
Generally start for around 5 minutes and then build up to 20 minutes or longer to get the most benefit.Training your mind to focus for just 5 minutes is often difficult at the start!
What time of day should I meditate?
I recommend the start of the day. This sets up your mind and body, clears any rubbish out of your mind before you start the day and puts you in a more positive and calm state. The end of day is also fine but you could be tired so there is a chance you will fall asleep!
What posture should I adopt when meditating?
The advice here is that your comfort is key. You can sit crossed legged on a mat on the ground, be laid down flat or sat in a chair with your feet on the ground. Ideally you need to be in a position where you spine is straight and your head well balanced with your hands resting comfortably, palms up or down.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
Meditation and mindfulness can go hand in hand. Simply put, meditation is about going into your inner world where emotions and thoughts become one, leaving the outside world outside. Mindfulness is about your outside world and promotes practices to help you live in the 'here and now' by focusing on daily tasks whilst not letting your mind wonder off to worrying about the future or reliving the past.
For more information about mindfulness click here www.lincsholisticwellness/mindfulness