Meditation and Mental Health: A simple and fast way to reduce stress20 Sep 2022
Meditation and Mental Health: A simple and fast way to reduce stress
Meditation can wipe away the day's stress, bringing with it inner peace. Just see how we can easily learn to practice meditation whenever we need it most.
If stress makes us anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can help restore our calm and inner peace. Anyone can practice meditation. It's simple and inexpensive. And it doesn't require any special equipment.
And we can practice meditation wherever we are — whether we are out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor's office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
Benefits of meditation
Meditation can give us a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit our emotional well-being and thereby our overall health. We can also use it to relax and cope with stress by refocusing our attention on something calming. Meditation can help us learn to stay centred and keep inner peace. And these benefits don't end when our meditation session ends. Meditation can help us to carry more calmly throughout our day and help us to manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.
Meditation, emotional and physical well-being
When we meditate, we clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to our stress. The emotional and physical benefits of meditation include:
Ø Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
Ø Building skills to manage our stress
Ø Increasing self-awareness
Ø Focusing on the present
Ø Reducing negative emotions
Ø Increasing imagination and creativity
Ø Increasing patience and tolerance
Ø Lowering resting heart rate
Ø Lowering resting blood pressure
Ø Improving sleep quality
Meditation and illness
Meditation might also be useful if we have a medical condition, especially one that may be worsened by stress. While a growing body of scientific research supports the health benefits of meditation, some researchers still believe that it's not yet possible to draw conclusions about the possible benefits of meditation. With that in mind, some research suggests that meditation may help people manage symptoms of conditions such as:
Ø Chronic pain
Ø Heart disease
Ø High blood pressure
Ø Irritable bowel syndrome
Ø Sleep problems
Ø Tension headaches
Types of meditation
Meditation is an umbrella term for the many ways to achieve a relaxed state of ones’ being. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.
Ways to meditate, includes:
Ø Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization. With this method of meditation, we form mental images of places or situations we find relaxing. We try to use as many senses as possible such as smell, sight, sound and texture. We may be led through this process by a guide or a teacher.
Ø Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, we silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Ø Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, we broaden our conscious awareness. We focus on what we experience during meditation, such as the flow of our breath, observe our thoughts and emotions and let them pass without judgment.
Ø Qi gong. This practice generally combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain inner balance. Qi gong (CHEE-gung) is part of a traditional Chinese medicine.
Ø Tai chi. This is a form of gentle Chinese martial arts training. In tai chi (TIE-CHEE), we perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
Ø Transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation is a simple, natural technique of meditation where we silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way. This form of meditation allows our body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and enables our mind to achieve a state of inner peace without needing to use concentration or effort.
Ø Yoga. We perform a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As we move through poses that require balance and concentration, we are encouraged and involuntarily forced to focus more on the moment in order to complete the act, thus digressing our thoughts from our busy day.
Elements of meditation
Different types of meditation may include different features to help us meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance we follow or who's teaching a class. Some of the most common features in meditation include:
Ø Focused attention. Focusing our attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation. Focusing our attention is what helps free our mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. We can focus our attention on such things as, a specific object, an image, a mantra or even our breath.
Ø Relaxed breathing. This technique involves deep and even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand our lungs. The purpose is to slow our breathing, take in more oxygen and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that we breathe more efficiently.
Ø A quiet setting. If one is a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if we are in a quiet spot with few distractions including no television, radios or cell phones. As we get more skilled at meditation, we may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where we benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.
Ø A comfortable position. We can practice meditation whether we are sitting, lying down, walking or in any other position or activity. We just need to be comfortable by keeping a good posture, to get the most out of our meditation.
Ø Open attitude. Let the thoughts pass through our mind without judgment.
We will continue about the new ways of meditation and about mental health in our next upcoming blog…so keep looking at this column.