Meditation: Types and Benefits
The hot topic these days is meditation. Although we have heard this term thrown around and know there are many benefits, is it something you consistently partake in and incorporate it into your daily routine? If the answer is yes, then you hopefully have seen the positive effects (otherwise read below and maybe try a different type of meditation).
If not hopefully the benefits listed below will inspire you to begin.
We often hear things like refined sugar isn’t good for our bodies, movement is beneficial to our health, staying hydrated is so important, meditation can improve your well-being, but, do we listen? There is such a priority on physical health, beauty and external appearance. The importance that can be placed on things like makeup, working out for a “hot bod”, flattering clothes and stylish hair show the value on outer appearance. But, shouldn’t we focus firstour attention on the inner self? Have we thought about the slowing and stilling of the mind and the overall improvements in well-being that come from feeling grounded within?
If you aren’t a regular mediator, perhaps give it a go and see for yourself impacts that it can have on your well-being as a human? I have seen first and second hand the impacts that meditation can have on one’s overall health
It’s important to note that not all meditation has to be crosslegged sitting down “thinking of nothing”. There are several ways to calm the mind to allow you to receive the benefits of stilling and slowing ourselves in the busy world we live in today. So whether you sit on a meditation cushion, chair, the outdoors or on your feet find what works best for you!
Types of meditation:
Breathwork- focusing on the breath where it enters (ie. nostrils), or where it fills (body/chest), perhaps counting the breaths starting at 1 then going up to 10 or vice cersa.
Scanning the body– starting at the head or the toes and moving throughout the body noticing any feelings or sensations within the body and observing what you notice.
Using your 5 senses- note anything you may see in your mind, notice sounds, smells, taste, what it feels like where your body touches the surface beneath you, etc.
Sound meditation- focusing on any sounds you hear and taking all the noise in your surroundings without staying on one for too long.
Movement meditation (walking meditation)- allow the movement to guide you and remain present can be great as a starting point if you find sitting difficult to start with.
Mantra meditation- pick a word(s) or phrase(s) that resonate with you and repeat them, possibly a different word on the in-breath and the out-breath. These should be chosen as what is best for each individual.
Visualisation– focus on those feelings of calm, relaxation and peace by visualising positive images or places. These can be places you have been or ones that you imagine.
Mindfulness meditation- observe the thoughts that pass through your mind. Concentration, as well as awareness of oneself, are key. Making sure not to judge any of the thoughts or label them as right/wrong.
Labelling– when things come up during your meditation labelling them as “thought”, “feeling” or “judgement” to acknowledge the difference between different things that run through your mind.
Loving-kindness meditation– this can be towards yourself, a specific person or to the collective and is a popular form of meditation that strengthens compassion, kindness and acceptance. It’s about receiving love as well as sending well wishes of love outwards.
Adult colouring books – also said to be very meditative and the plethora of different ones available online make it fun! I have tried a forest theme, ocean theme and recently an anatomy colouring book.
Further research can be done on any of the above and it’s important to find a method that works best for your self and what you can see as a manageable and sustainable activity in your overall wellness routine.
It’s worth noting to those that feel your mind should be blank, it’s more about realising when your mind does go off track and then bringing it back to focus.
Benefits of meditation:
- Minimises anxiety
- Reduces stress
- Promotes a sense of well-being
- Gaining a new perspective
- Compassion (to self and others)
- Enhances awareness of our selves
- Improves sleep
- Focusing on the present
- Good for all body systems
- Become more patient and tolerant
- Boost creativity and your imagination
- More emotional stability
- Lengthens our attention span
So start small if need be, a very good friend of mine once told me “one minute counts” and she is well on her way to 2000+ consecutive days of meditation. Why not commit even to a month and note the effects that it has on you! Or read the book 10% Happier by Dan Harris to gain some insight into his meditation experience.
To close, ponder this ancient Zen proverb:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you are too busy in which case you should then sit for an hour.”
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