Ever feel like the world around you is simply too loud and distracting? There has to be a way to refocus and regroup. One way to calm the mind that has been practiced for thousands of years is meditation. The Mayo Clinic explores this genre of wellness practice and its benefits in its article “Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.”
When a person meditates, they focus their attention and strive to eliminate the stream of muddled thoughts that crowd the mind and can cause stress. Meditative processes can result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. A more comprehensive list of emotional and physical meditation benefits can look like this:
- A newfound perspective on stressful situations
- Stress management skills and techniques
- A higher sense of self-awareness
- Ability to focus more fully on the present
- Reduction in negative or painful emotions
- Increased imagination and creativity
- Better patience and tolerance
- Lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Improved sleep patterns and quality
Meditation is a general term encompassing many ways to achieve a relaxed state. There are many different ways to meditate, all sharing the same goal of reaching inner peace.
Meditation practices include:
- Guided meditation- Also referred to as guided visualization or imagery, the idea is to form mental images of relaxing places or situations. Ideally, this should incorporate as many senses and sensations as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. A teacher, guide or recorded meditation can lead you through this process. Free guided meditations can be found on platforms such as Spotify.
- Mantra meditation- Mantra meditation is a common style of meditation where a person silently repeats a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. A mantra can be anything meaningful and personal, or a supportive one can be found with some online searching.
- Mindfulness meditation- This meditation type is characterized by an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment, otherwise known as being mindful. In this meditation, the idea is to broaden conscious awareness by focusing on what to experience during the meditation, such as the flow of the breath. Observe thoughts and emotions but let them pass without judgments.
- Qi gong- This is used as part of traditional Chinese medicine and typically combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to promote and restore balance.
- Transcendental meditation- This type of meditation is more about achieving a state of calm rather than specific focus or effort. It has more intention on nature and simplicity. Silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way.
- Yoga- As a popularized form of exercise and meditation, most people are at least familiar with yoga on a basic level. Yoga meditation often combines specific poses with controlled breathing exercises.
Like most self-care, meditation is not one-size-fits-all, so try a new healthy practice and see what sticks!
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