Many people have an uninformed view of meditation and wonder, “What is meditation and what good can it do me?” While some people may have visions of monks in far-off lands sitting together in silence, meditation is actually a popular practice in the Western world among people from all walks of life.
What is Meditation?
Essentially, the answer to the question is a simple one: Meditation is an approach that anyone can use to help them cope with medical problems, stress and anxiety by way of thought, contemplation and reflection. Meditation encompasses a variety of practices that are somewhat different, while holding to the basic principles of consideration and quiet thought to bring about a state of rumination.
Various types of meditation that are recognized include transcendental meditation, prayer, Zen meditation, Taoist meditation, mindfulness meditation and Buddhist meditation. Some methods of meditation may require the body to be absolutely still or to be moved with controlled deliberation, while other types allow for free movement of the body. While the methods are different, the end goal of all types of meditation leads to a mind that is quieted and free from stress through quiet contemplation and reflection.
What are the Benefits of Meditation?
There are a variety of benefits that have been linked with the regular practice of meditation. Meditation can bring about healing of both the body and the mind by using deliberation of thought and consideration. There are various physical benefits that come about through daily meditation as well, including a decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in breathing due to an increase of air flow to the lungs.
Those who use meditation regularly also find that their resting heart rate is lower, which takes some of the stress off the heart. Chemicals in the body that are associated with stress are lower too, which leads to less anxiety. Meditation also promotes youthful skin and a youthful appearance.
Meditation is a practice that brings about not only physical benefits, but psychological benefits as well. Bringing oneself to a state of rumination through meditation has amazing effects on your psyche. Besides relaxation and a decrease in stress, meditation can also improve your mood and memory and decrease moodiness and depression.
Light meditation is a spiritual and deep cleansing meditation that allows the aura to be pure. It can help with the following:
This meditation takes just 10 to 15 quiet minutes every day. It works better if you are mentally relaxed, so it’s important to spend the first few minutes of this meditation calming down mentally and emotionally.
Dynamic meditation by 20th century mystic Osho is a fast, intense and thorough way to break old, ingrained patterns in the body and mind that keep you imprisoned in the past. It helps you experience the freedom, the “witnessing,” silence and peace that are hidden behind these prison walls. This meditation is meant to be done in the early morning when, as Osho explains it, “The whole of nature becomes alive, the night has gone, the sun is coming up and everything becomes conscious and alert.”
Osho goes on to explain: “This is a meditation in which you have to be continuously alert, conscious, aware, whatever you do. Remain a witness. Don’t get lost. While you are breathing you can forget. You can become one with the breathing so much that you can forget the witness. But then you miss the point.
“Breathe as fast as possible, as deep as possible; bring your total energy to it but still remain a witness. Observe what is happening as if you are just a spectator, as if the whole thing is happening to somebody else, as if the whole thing is happening in the body and the consciousness is just centered and looking.
“This witnessing has to be carried in all the three steps. And when everything stops, and in the fourth step you have become completely inactive, frozen, then this alertness will come to its peak.”
“Meditation puts you on the fast track to being happy,” says Ronnie Newman, director of research and health promotion for the Art of Living Foundation, the umbrella organization for the Sahaj meditation course. In fact, studies have shown that brain signaling increases in the left side of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for positive emotions, while activity decreases in the right side, responsible for negative emotions, Newman says. The other benefits of meditation, including increased self-awareness and acceptance, also contribute to improved, overall wellbeing.
“Meditation is mind without agitation, it’s increasing, given the rising use of anti-anxiety medications,” notes Stanford University researcher Emma Sepp?l?.
Meditation allows people to take charge of their own nervous system and emotions. At Co Active Minds & Cayte Mocadam's consultancy, we offer guided meditation that is relaxing, simple and calming.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety and Social Anxiety
Many people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. Now, there’s a whole subgenre of meditation called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. A team at Stanford University found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all, an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.
Anti-stress circle is a therapy for groups and individuals. It promotes healing and relaxation.
Coactive Minds is a private and confidential counseling and therapy clinic. Its effects rival antidepressants for depression and anxiety.