- Mental Health
The Benefits of Meditation
Learning to meditate to help bring back inner calm
Many people under estimate the power and benefits of meditation. It is very relaxing and there are even guided meditations to help you on this journey. There is so much going on in our lives (and some are stressful) with people and situations vying for our attention that taking the time to meditate to get in touch with our inner self seems too time consuming. It seems we have too many things to do and too little time to do it. However, for those who have tried meditaiton the benefits they have reaped from it far outweigh the seeming effort that is put into this practice. Meditation can be used for so many things and situations, from getting relief from stress and anxiety to helping to cure insomnia. It is certainly a personal journey and one that each of us are entitled to go on. Personally, I have found the journey blissful. It has made me able to cope with the 'business' of every day life and recharges me. There are different ways to meditate and some use yoga. Others use binaural beats such as beta beat recordings. There are many ways to meditate and you can find one that suits you. The benefits and power of meditation is evident in those who regularly meditate. Their stress levels are down, their coping mechanism increases and there is an overall peace. The only way to find out for yourself is to try it and for many, this is a life changing experience......
All photos courtesy of www.meditation.org.au unless otherwise stated.
Why should we meditate?
Good question....Ultimately, we do this to distance ourselves from the current situation and concentrate on nothingness, at least figuratively. When we meditate, we concentrate on this "nothingness" and we are able to come out of the distressing/uncomfortable present situation and think above materialistic things. So, this relieves us of all the pent up stress and makes us feel light. Meditation is not only beneficial to reducing stress, anxiety and insomnia (the list is endless), it is also important if you want to to obtain inner balance, peace and spiritual awareness. Your dreams and perceptions will strengthen and intensify and you will be able to focus better. There are free online courses at meditation org au.
There is a theory to meditation that very few of us know. Do you know that we (the world in fact) is full of frequencies and these form the very foundation of life on this planet? It is actually quite fascinating! There is the Beta, Alpha and Theta frequency. Our daily activities all form part of the Beta frequency but meditation mainly occurs in the Alpha state. A lot of us find it difficult to go into this alpha state to mediate effectively and that is why most who try meditation do not reap the benefits as we do not achieve this alpha state of meditation.
Guided Meditation - Benefits of Meditation
An excellent way to either start or complement your meditation journey.
The Reason for the Journey
There was a time quite a few years back when I was extremely stressed. Work was keeping me very busy and I had no time for myself or my friends and family. It got to a stage where I broke out in hives every day! I went to my doctor and after quite a few questions and tests, she told me quite frankly that I had to either take it easy or quit my present job! Gulp! She said that I was taxing my body and the hives were just a manifestation of my inner stressed body...The other thing was that because I was so busy, I never kept to schedules where meal times were concerned. There were times when I just had a soft drink instead of a meal and then binged on the next meal because I was ravenous by that time! All in all, I was not living a very healthy life at all.
My Road to Recovery
I started looking for ways to de-stress and relax and came upon meditation. I gave it a try and at first I did not feel any different. However, I persevered as I started to realize that my lifestyle at that point would only lead to health problems later on.
It got easier as I continued and I found that in my case, it was the 'letting go' that was keeping me from enjoying my meditation. The moment I learned how to let go and relax, I found a sense of calm within me. Ever since then, I have been practicing meditation and am planning to go on a meditation retreat soon. I would like to encourage others to try meditation to bring back the peace and calm that many of us seem to have sacrificed in the name of 'responsibility'.
How to get into the zone
All of us fluctuate between the Beta and Alpha frequency and this leads to the Theta frequency and then into Delta frequency which is when we are asleep. In order to meditate effectively, we need to be in the alpha frequency and to remain there all the time we are meditating to reap the benefits of meditation. So now that we know about the frequencies, how do we get into that frequency? The Binaural Beat Recordings is a good place to start to help with the meditation process. Even if you are new to the area of meditation you don't have to worry because there are recordings available to help you meditate with ease in the alpha zone.
You have to look at the different meditation techniques to know what works best for you. There are many courses and classes online as well as offline and you have to choose the one that is good for you. You don't want to spend time and money on a class/course that doesn't work for you. There are many programs online that will allow you to download a few samples and you can try them before committing yourself to a course. I started out with complimentary samples of meditation mp3s and found it very effective before I purchased the full version and I am happy I did. You can use google to find these courses.
Meditation and You
Connect to your inner self....
Meditation is a very personal thing...you can start with just soft music and some soft lights. You can even light a soothing scented candle (be sure it is not something that is going to energise you as that will defeat the purpose of meditaiton :-)). As you progress, you can do what is comfortable to you....it's all about finding peace and calm.
I used to worry and stress about so many things in my life and although some of the issues are still there, I have found a way to calm myself and this has helped me to even sleep better! Insomnia was the norm and although I still get my bouts of insomnia (very rarely), I sleep so much better and wake up refreshed now!
For some, it might be to take it further to try astral projection or chakra tuning. Once again, it's a personal journey and it's a journey that one takes by oneself. Be happy...be calm....be at peace with yourself......
Simple Way to Start
Beginning the journey
Here is a real simple way you can start your journey towards discovering your inner peace through meditation.
The music below in the YouTube module by Paul Collier is one you can play whilst doing this. It is only around 6-7 minutes.
When you start out, it might be a bit difficult to calm your mind so 6+ minutes is good enough. Remember while doing this, you will have thoughts that come to you (like the dishes that need washing or the dog that needs grooming, etc.). Just acknowledge those thoughts and let them go. In other words, don't hold on to them and continue thinking about it (like ok I will take the dog tomorrow and then I wonder if I can pick up the can of beans on the way and so on and so forth...:-)) Remember, this is about spending some time with yourself to get to that inner feeling of peace to help you cope and help you on the path to decreasing the stresses of the day.
Read the next module "Ready to Start?" once before you begin your meditation. Turn down the volume of music (if you are using the one I featured on the YouTube module below) to a soft volume. You do not need to have music but I find it helps especially when you first start out. If you do not like the music, chose some soothing music that you like but make sure it doesn't bring back memories or anything like that. The role of the music is to provide a soothing background in the same manner as lighting a scented candle would.
Ready To Start? - Here we go
- Find a place you can sit comfortably. It could be your bedroom or a quiet place in your home. If it is your bedroom, please do not lie down as you might fall asleep! Wear loose clothing and get comfortable. You can have some scented candles but please make sure they are made from original ingredients and have a light scent. I used to spray some of my favourite perfume! It was light and made me think of walking in a field of flowers with a slight breeze blowing....lovely.. You can also think of a pleasant scene...like a beautiful day at the beach, calm blue waters of the sea, sitting by a waterfall listening to the splash of water, walking in a field of flowers...anything that brings a sense of calm and peace to you.
- Close your eyes and take nice deep breaths...inhaling and exhaling
- Inhale to a count of 3 and exhale to a count of 5....slowly and deeply. Inhale...exhale....
- Focus on your breathing and try not to think of anything else. If a thought comes, acknowledge it and let it go. Focus on your breathing. Feel the air that you breathe going through your nose into your lungs giving you life. Feel it bringing in energy throughout your body and then exhaling all the stresses and tensions..then again and again, breathing in fresh energy bringing air, breathing out the tensions...feels so good...
- Continue with this until the music comes to an end. When the music ends, just slowly come back to the now and very slowly open your eyes. Take a good long stretch and smile......
- There you go....your first step! As one popular ad says, "you're worth it"!
One great site to get free downloads and lots of info on meditation is The Meditation Society of Australia.
You can find online courses from beginners onwards as well as music downloads for meditation purposes. There are guided meditations, meditation videos and even meditation apps - great for those who want to grab a few minutes of meditation during a lull in their busy lives!
Mantra meditation is another method of meditation. This method uses sound to help deepen our focus. A mantra is just something that our mind projects at the time. It be anything such as a word, an affirmation, a color or even a picture. Some use the traditional Sanskrit mantras most often heard in Buddhist chants.
You don't have to use those mantras and you can use something as simple as "I am calm" or "I am centered".
Many people use this mantra meditation as a beginner and since this is quite easy to do, people tend to continue the practice.
Steps to Mantra Meditation
These are the steps to practice a mantra meditation.
1. Choose a something soft such as a blanket or cushion as your meditation cushion. If you choose to use a blanket, fold it up once or twice so that it is comfortable to sit on. Next, choose a quiet spot where you know you will be not be disturbed for some time.
2. You can sit with your legs crossed or in the Lotus position, where each foot is placed on top of the opposite thigh rather than underneath.
3. Sit up straight and let your chin and shoulders relax just like when you are breathing. Now gently close your eyes.
4. Relax while breathing in and out naturally.
5. Start by focusing your attention on the center of your forehead which is a spot more commonly known as your third eye or sixth chakra.
6. Now place your palms together at chest height and breathe in deeply and on the exhalation, recite to yourself or out loud the mantra you have decided to use.
7. Whatever mantra you choose, repeat it three times and then take a few minutes to simply relax and breathe.
Transcendental meditation is quite easy to learn. With the many distractions in our life and the continued need to keep up with things, we all need a break, a rest, a time of quiet 'me' time. This little snippet of time can calm us down and put things into perspective.
This technique was introduced to the US during the 1960s and it was the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who developed transcendental meditation from the ancient Indian Vedic tradition.
How is this different from other forms?
It essentially has the same principles and is quite simple and easy to learn and practice. As with other forms, it does require some dedication and focus but it is not forced. Meditation does not happen by force. You will only feel more stressed and ready to quit if you force yourself to focus.
One way that I found useful when I first started was to focus on an image. You can choose to focus on a word if you wish, such as 'peace', 'calm', 'ohm' or 'aum'; or some other word that has no negative connotation or is quite neutral.
Your mind will still be alert while your body enters a peaceful and deep state of relaxation. Keep visualizing or repeating the image or word in your mind as you enter deeper and deeper into relaxation. When you first start to practice, you should find a quiet and relaxed environment with few or no distractions. Once you have mastered this, any place (even a relatively quite corner at your workplace or a quiet table at an outdoor cafe) can be used for this meditation. Try to work up to as long as you can sustain this. This type of meditation is best done for 20 minutes twice a day.
The point of this is to let your mind 'transcend' all mental limitations and release you of all stress and tension. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and feel yourself feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
People from all walks of life have been and are practicing this meditation technique. It is possible to practice this anywhere that allows for some peaceful time. Whether it is at home, the workplace or even in the waiting room for your next appointment. If you can find a quite corner and you have at least 10-15 minutes, it will be well worth it. If you are nervous, anxious or simply stress about things, transcendental meditation can help.
Those who constantly practice transcendental meditation report the following benefits:
- clearer thinking or increased mental comprehension
- ability to focus
- reduction in chronic pain through regular meditation
- reduction in stress and anxiety
- ability to reduce high blood pressure
- reduction of high cholesterol levels
- better sleep through reduction of insomnia
Although the above benefits may or may not be experienced, it is widely held that meditation in its many forms are rarely dangerous or harmful.
As with most things, if you have a medical condition, it is essential that you seek the advice of a health professional before embarking on anything.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many advantages of meditation and the video below lists 40 advantages.