Hi dear friend:
You might be wondering what meditation is, or you are considering if you should start practicing it and not sure about the benefits it can bring you. I have found that this practice has helped me in many different ways and will detail some of its benefits below.
Take into consideration that it is not a religion. People of all cultural backgrounds, ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are meditating worldwide.
Despite there being different ways or kinds of meditation, the bottom line is to help you slow down, and calm your mind. People meditate or reach a state of thoughtless awareness in different situations or manners, it may not require that you sit in the lotus position for you to achieve this state.
It is a moment that allows you to ponder or sit quietly, when your mind is silent and calm until you reach inner peace and a higher level of awareness. Know that the right postures and breathing help in the process but are not requirements of meditation per se.
Why should you meditate?
First of all, to help cope better with stress. A growing body of research shows that this is an effective form of stress reduction. If I had to use an analogy, meditation would be similar to how the sea looks calm after a storm.
Furthermore, there is research showing the need of medical care was significantly less for people who practiced meditation, as opposed to those who did not practice meditation on a regular basis.5
Research also shows the wide range of neurological effects that we can attain through meditation. Changes in grey matter volume to enhanced connectivity between regions in the brain are some of them. Moreover, when we meditate we focus on the now, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Kinds of Meditation
Most common kinds are transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation.
What is Transcendental Meditation (TM)
With the use of a mantra, this meditation should be practiced sitting with your eyes closed, an average of 15 to 20 minutes twice a day. TM was brought to the West by Yogi Maharish Mahesh, in order to help develop the inner potential that lies within each one of us. The technique naturally allows the mind to transcend. Thus, to experience transcendental consciousness.
Additionally, the effects of this kind of meditation have been widely researched. There are over 350 research studies conducted in TM, including renowned universities such as UCLA, Harvard, and Stanford.
What is Mindfulness meditation (MM)
For me this is the most basic kind of meditation, focusing on your breath. You practice mindfulness meditation by sitting with your eyes closed, always keeping your back and neck straight. All througout the process you focus your attention on your breathing coming in and out of your nose. It is important to use belly breathing, this brings breath deeper into the lungs; the breath coming in and out of the abdomen.
Moreover, additional to benefits common to all kinds of meditation, research shows how MM helps reduce anxiety.
In addition, MM has been used for people who suffer from social anxiety disorder.
Benefits of Meditation:
Everything starts to change once we become aware that when we start to change, things around us will change as well.
During 16 weeks a group of 103 subjects with CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) used Transcendental Meditation. Findings show that meditation helps modulate the response to stress and improve blood pressure, as well as insulin resistance components.3
Research shows how meditation may change brain and immune function in positive ways.2
Meditation helps us cope better with stress, relieving suffering and therefore increasing our energy.
Research shows that meditation naturally boosts many chemicals in your body: Endorphins, Serotonin, Melatonin, while lowering Cortisol.1
A study recently conducted found that meditation can help improve focus and memory.
Its practice provides a sense of balance, peace and calm.
Meditation upgrades your body´s response to stress, making you immune to addiction, depression, anxiety and more. 1
Research has found that meditators have a significant reduction in heart rate. 6
When you meditate you release stress. Breath work, important part of meditation also helps rapidly relieve many forms of suffering.4
In addition, meditation will help you balance the left and right hemispheres of your brain.
If you are still not convinced about starting to meditate, know that when you meditate you tap into some additional wonderful benefits, such as: faster learning, more creativity and better memory.
My personal experience:
I have been practicing the kind of meditation called merkaba for over 10 years now. I have been in a healing process and getting over many issues from my past. Meditation has helped me a lot in releasing emotions, get balance and little by little recover my emotional and mental health.
I have also noticed that the more I cleanse and release emotions, the more I crave healthier food and better things in general in my life. I get stronger and also more full of energy, as time goes by. I continue to meditate, learning to manage stress and continue healing.
How can you meditate
Sit with your legs crossed, straight spine and let your body relax. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Each time you inhale focus on the breath coming in and out of your nostrils, use belly breathing and count each time you inhale. Do this every day at least once a day, and you will start noticing the benefits.
New to meditation? Or if you would rather follow a guided meditation, this is a great option to experience deep meditation.
It is best if you do this each day for a minimum of 21 days as it takes these amount of days to create a new habit.
You can use binaural beat brainwaves to help you enter deep meditative states reliably and easily, reduce stress and to increase concentration.
To help you live life more fully, I recommend that you read Live This Book by Tom Chatfield. Live This Book, is full of inspiring content, enriching ideas and exercises. Chatfield asks the right questions to help you learn more about yourself and what you enjoy doing.
I hope these words of my personal experience with meditation and resources will inspire you to start or to continue meditating.
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Want to share some of your experiences with meditation, or ask Cristina some questions below?
5 McSherry. Medical economics. In: Wedding D, ed.Medicine and Behaviour. St. Louis: Mosby and Co, 1990: 463-484