Have you ever found yourself in emotional distress that eventually led you to make decisions and carry out actions you wish you could take back? Well sadly, you can’t take those actions back because time travel hasn’t been invented yet. But you can definitely avoid being in such situations again by tapping into the power of Meditation.
Meditation more or less involves you finding your inner peace and harnessing that inner peace to influence your state of mind as well as your actions. If you learn to harness your inner peace through the power of meditation today, you will over time learn how to control your emotions and how they influence your train of thought and your decision making process. Actions carried out in a panic or decisions made while you are in a tumultuous emotional state can be avoided and thus lead to you having a calmer, cleaner life that you can effectively and rationally steer in a direction you feel best.
Genuine Benefits of Meditation
If you are doubtful concerning the many ways in which meditation can help you have a better life which you have greater control over, let’s look take a look at some of the many scientifically proven benefits of meditation.
- Reduces Stress
If you’d like to rid yourself of the influences of external forces that are stressing you out, you really need to try out meditation. With even the simplest meditation breathing exercise, you can effectively relax yourself and let go of elements that are causing you stress.
The scientific proof of the power of meditation over stress can be seen in a study where over 3,500 adults proved how meditation positively influences stress. When you are distressed, your body releases cortisol which is a stress hormone and the effects of this hormone can lead to health dangers such as sleep disruption, promotion of depression, hypertension, and fatigue. By meditating, you reduce your stress and thus avoid the release of cortisol into your system.
Further research also proved the power of meditation over other physical and psychological disorders that might be triggered by stress such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Controls Anxiety
Naturally, the less stress you suffer from, the less anxiety you will experience. This is why you feel calm and at peace when doing things you like or activities you are comfortable with. To put yourself at ease when faced with unfamiliar or unwanted scenarios, you can defeat your anxiety by meditating and focusing on serene thoughts while you tackle the present problem. This will help you focus on the task at hand and help you intelligently overcome it.
Meditation has also been proven to help individuals overcome symptoms of anxiety disorders like social anxiety, phobias, paranoid thoughts, panic attacks, and more.
A wide study which involved over 2,000 participants proved that various meditation strategies could effectively reduce anxiety levels. For example, yoga which is a form of exercise mixed with meditation has gained worldwide fame for its effectiveness in helping people reduce anxiety through meditative practices and physical activity.
- Improves Emotional Wellbeing
Certain forms of meditation have also proved effective at improving self-image as well as granting an individual a more positive outlook on life. This was proven in studies which showed a marked improvement in over 4,000 adults’ suffering from depression who partook in mindfulness meditation.
Your body during stress periods releases Cytokines which are inflammatory chemicals that can affect mood and bring about depression. By meditating, you push aside the stress and thus reduce the release of these inflammatory chemicals.
Another study showed that those who practiced meditation experienced positive changes in the activity areas of their brain related to optimism and positive thinking. That is, meditation can help you experience life in a more positive light and thus help you effectively combat depression.
- Increases Attention Span
Those with short attention spans can increase their focus with Focused-Attention meditation which helps strengthen the endurance of your attention. Proof of this miracle power of mediation was seen in a research that studied the effects of a mindfulness meditation course over 8 weeks and discovered participants were exhibiting an improved ability to steer at will their focus as well as maintain it.
- Can Reduce Memory Loss related to Ageing
Meditation has also proven to be effective in helping elderly people. Not only for its physical health benefits, but also for how it can help keep the mind young. This result is best had by practicing the meditation style of Kirtan Kriya which combines repetitive motions of the fingers and a chant to focus thoughts. This practice has been proven to improve the ability of individuals suffering from age-related memory loss to perform memory tasks.
Practicing multiple meditation styles has also been proven to increase memory, attention span, and mental quickness among ageing persons.
- Improves Sleep
Using meditation to your advantage can give you better control over your racing thoughts that can lead to insomnia. This can also help release tension and relax your body, thus placing you in a more relaxed state that’s best suited for drifting asleep. Scientific proof of this benefit was seen in a research that compared multiple mindfulness-based meditation programs. The research showed that participants who practiced meditation fell asleep faster and enjoyed longer sleep in comparison to those who didn’t meditate.
- Helps Control Pain
How much pain you feel is dependent on your state of mind. The more you focus on the pain, the more of it you feel. And if you are stressed, the more heightened the painful experience will be.
Studies have shown that if those who meditate and those who don’t are exposed to the same causes and levels of pain, those who meditate will show a better adeptness at coping with pain and might even experience alleviated pain sensations.
Types of Meditation
There are various types of meditation available with some being more complicated than others. The beauty of it is you can easily pick one to best suit your lifestyle or one that’ll better help you attain the state of mind you are after. For example, there are mediation styles that are better for combatting anxiety while there are others that can help you better control your anger.
Below are a few mediation styles you can opt for today;
This form of meditation requires you to focus on a single thing and not stray from that focus point until the session is over. Practicing concentration meditation can involve you breathing in a specific manner and rhythm, or repeating a mantra or single word, or counting beads on a mala, or listening to a repetitive sound such as a rung gong. But because staying in a single position and focusing on a single thing for long expanses of time can be trying for a beginner, you can start by meditating for only a few minutes and increase your durations as you master the art.
The point of concentration meditation is to help you refocus your awareness on a single point and prevent your mind from wandering, especially to negative thoughts that might stress or distress you.
This form of meditation assists practitioners in observing thoughts wandering through their minds. The point of the exercise is not to judge the thoughts or get involved with them but simply be aware of their presence. By practicing this art, you’ll gain better awareness concerning how your feelings and thoughts operate. This will help you over time find a balance within yourself as you become less prone to judging or fearing certain experiences.
Other Meditation Techniques
The aforementioned techniques are just broad strokes about meditation styles. There are also more specific meditation arts such as Tai Chi, Prana Shuddi, Qigong, Tonglen, Honouring Spaces, and walking meditation. There’s also an everyday meditation technique practiced by Buddhist monks that focuses on the cultivation of compassion. The point of the art is to envision negative circumstances and use compassion to project such scenarios in a more positive light.
Doing Meditation by yourself
One of the beautiful things about meditation is you can do it anywhere. You can do it at your home, in the park, and even unobtrusively at work. All that’s truly required to perform it successfully is your mind and your focus.
In the event you chose to meditate by yourself but lack the knowhow or the discipline to see it through, you need not panic because several mobile apps have been created to help you have a better and healthier life through meditation. Some of our favourite meditation apps which we’ve found to be truly useful include;
Headspace is a meditation app that is proudly British and has been endorsed by everyone’s beloved Emma Watson. The app comes with a straightforward design that will immediately appeal to you because of how easy it is to understand and use. You will find spoken-word exercises on the app that are designed to be used for about 10minutes daily. You can enjoy a free 10-session pack to begin with upon initial download. The app also features a simple and clear stats screen which you can use to monitor your progress.
Simply put, Headspace is a great choice for you if you are just beginning your foray into meditation because it will help you quickly make sense of what the practice is all about. Other features you will enjoy on the app include a reward system for nonstop practice, a personalized progress page, and a buddy system that you and your friends can use to make the exercise more fun.
The Mindfulness App
The Mindfulness app is filled with interesting features such as personalized meditation offers, a 5day guided meditation practice, meditation reminders, and timers to help you better monitor your sessions. If you are serious about being dedicated to meditation, this app is a great choice and it comes with a health app integration capability.
Calm lets you select between a variety of guided meditation experiences. Selection options that are available on the app range from newbie 3minute sessions to veteran 25minute sessions. You can also opt for the Daily Calm option which is a 10minute program which helps you practice meditation before you begin your day or before you go to sleep. You can also enjoy on the app breathing exercises, over 20 sleep stories, unguided meditations, and over 20 soothing sounds that will lure you to a more relaxed state of mind and then sleep.
This app comes with no in-app purchases and you won’t need to make subsequent payments after your initial purchase of the app. Buddhify offers meditation sessions that are organised according to the theme of what you might be doing or what you are trying to accomplish, such as; taking a work break, waking up, feeling stressed, struggling to sleep, dealing with difficult emotions, and so on.
Stop, Breathe & Think
This app deliver more than 50 guided meditation selections. You can choose from selections available to match activities like beginning the day or ending your day. The app also comes with a day-to-day mood tracker and customizable chimes. Exercises within the app are focused on helping you attain better sleep, compassion, as well as battle depression and anxiety. The app will let you make recordings of your daily practices and monitor your progress for the entire year.
All the aforementioned meditation apps are available for both Android and iOS devices.
Group Meditation vs Individual Meditation
Whether you choose to meditate alone or in a group is entirely up to you and what you feel works best for you. Some people feel they need absolute quiet and isolation before they can successfully meditate while others feel the need to be supported by others doing the same thing to help them accomplish their meditation goals. The option you eventually opt for that offers best results is wholly dependent on your personality.
But in practice, it is best if you can find a balance between group and individual meditation. That is, balance meditating as part of a group with meditating alone. This way, you can better enjoy the benefits of both worlds and get the best out of your meditation experience.
You can also alternate between doing it alone and with a group if one meditation style stops working for you. For example, if the aura of your regular home environment isn’t allowing for successful quiet alone time, you should consider participating in a meditation class as the change of environment will improve your chances of success as well as provide you a supportive community.
Meditating the right way
If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it. When you’ve selected the ideal meditation exercise, especially if it’s your first time, try following these simple processes to guide you towards finding your inner peace.
- Commit to 5-30 minutes a day. You can start with as little as five minutes a day and gradually increase your meditation durations. Remember that the more you do it, the faster you’ll get better at it. So commit yourself to practicing everyday or multiple times in a day if possible.
- Eliminate Distractions. If there’s anything that you know will interfere with your process, escape it or avoid it. If it’s your phone, turn it off and pull out the battery just in case. If it’s your family or neighbours, go somewhere where you know they won’t find you, or begin your session when you are sure no one is around.
- Relax and get comfortable. You can’t meditate if you are uncomfortable, so dress appropriately, stretch, and get your body in a relaxed mood before beginning.
- Choose your Position. Not everyone is flexible enough to stay in some of the meditation positions for long stretches of time. Thus, pick a position that’s most convenient for you in order to avoid your discomfort becoming a distraction. You can sit yogi style, lie down or whatever – just be comfortable.
- Focus Your Mind. Some people use music to focus their mind during meditation, some like to close or open their eyes. Whichever you choose to do, it should help you focus entirely on what is at hand. Steer your mind from thoughts of the past or the future. Focus on only the present and you in the now.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. By focusing on your breathing, you will quickly begin to feel more relaxed and calmer. If your mind wanders, you can refocus by concentrating on your breathing.
- If you find yourself falling asleep, consider changing positions.
- When the session is over, open your eyes and rise slowly.
Practice makes perfect with meditation so don’t give up on the exercise. Take it easy and experience yourself get better after each session. The differences in your physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological health over time might at first seem negligible but gradually, you’ll start to notice more and more remarkable changes. Peaceful serenity, better calmness and happiness are all the dividends you can look forward to so don’t quit on Meditation till you accomplish your goals. By then, it’ll already be a part of you and something you won’t look forward to stopping.