Meditation : What do we mean?
Meditation is a process of calming the mind’s non-stop thinking processes. There are many meditation techniques including sitting, standing and moving. While sitting, a person may close their eyes and focus on their breathing, or they may recite a mantra, or scan their body noticing sensations and emotions as they arise.
Why should we meditate?
Some people meditate as a way to discover their spiritual nature, beyond the mind and body preoccupations. Others simply meditate to experience an alert peacefulness and a sense of inner and outer balance in life. And then some practice meditation as part of health recovery program prescribed by their doctor.
Mindfulness stress reduction programs operate in hospitals, medical centers and clinics around the world. These programs use mindfulness based techniques such as yoga and meditation as a primary way to reduce stress and improve overall health.
Research studies reveal that daily meditation reduces the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Subjective studies find that people who meditate regularly have increased focused attention, energy, vitality, self-esteem, proactive rather than reactive responses, and healthier relationships. Hundreds of research studies have shown the positive mental, emotional and physical health benefits of meditation. Daily meditation is known to calm the mind and reduce stress, leaving people feeling happier and healthier overall.
Meditation has been getting more attention in recent years as the understanding of the link between mind and body grows. Indeed the medical field of psychoneuroimmunology demonstrates the acceptance of the power the mind has over the body. Sadly the epidemic levels of depression and chronic stress is taking its toll on people’s health. Although stress has a biological purpose the human body was never meant to be subjected to it constantly. Stress hormones are meant to aid the body in the fight or flight response and then the body is supposed to break them down and dispose of them. With the case of depression there is the poor nutrition that most people get as well as the dissatisfaction with their personal and professional lives. Keep in mind that the brain utilizes one fourth of available blood sugar as well as tremendous amounts of nutrients.
Meditation involves slowing down the constant chatter inside of a person’s mind and with it eliminates the physiological responses to the emotions evoked by said chatter. The word emotion can be considered a contraction of the words “energy in motion”. Emotions generate energy and that energy affects the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the energy generated by emotions as well as the organs that produce or are affected by this energy. The meridians that run through the body direct the flow of energy into and out of the organs. Through various forms of meditation this energy can be controlled.
Any form of contemplative meditation teaches how to control the mind by letting discursive thoughts fade to the point of no longer disrupting conscious brain function. When the level of agitation of the mind by these thoughts diminishes a person becomes less distracted and functions more efficiently. Shamatha meditation or “peaceful abiding” of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition is one method of meditation that accomplishes this.
One study — headed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin — discovered that meditation alters how the brain responds to stress. Activity in areas of the frontal left side of the brain are connected to positive emotions such as happiness and joy while areas on the right side relate to difficult emotions such as fear and sadness. This leads people to instinctively move towards people and activities that trigger positive feelings and avoid those that trigger negative feelings. This can lead to clinging and aversion reactions, rather than dealing proactively with challenging situations.
The study was done with employees at their workplace to specifically investigate the effects of meditation on how the brain responds to stress. After an eight week mindfulness meditation program, participants showed a significant increase of activity in the areas of the left brain associated with the positive emotions and a decrease of activity in the right brain areas related to negative emotions. These effects were still there four months after the mindfulness program ended. Participants reported that they experienced lower anxiety and fewer physical and mental symptoms of stress.
The researchers concluded that meditation supports people to experience more positive emotions and to have better ability to process difficult emotions while under stress. What better reason is there to meditate daily as a way to calm the mind and reduce stress?
We may attempt upon the following steps for stress management, how to relax and rule the problems out of your system.
1. It’s all in the mind.
Our mind is the first to be affected in throes of stress. The harmony of your thoughts can be disrupted if you let your worries and problems seep into your conscious mind and control how you think. Financial burdens, quarrels or petty fights can leave devastating effects on your mind – if this does happen then the first thing you should do is relax.
Relaxing your mind is a great way to control stress but not so easily done. It needs a lot of concentration and willpower to achieve. There are ways to induce your mind into a relaxed state; aromatherapy is a great way to induce a sense of relaxation and can help you think straight. The scent of lavander or jasmine can put you in a meditative state and help you relax almost immediately. You can choose scented candles, incense or oils that will suit your preference.
2. Meditation is the key to stress free life.
It’s almost impossible to find a solution to your problems when you are deep in stress, no matter how petty it is. Learning to focus all your energy in telling your mind to relax can be done through the ancient art of meditation.
Meditation allows you to focus your mind to a single idea and letting other sift away to nothing. Meditation classes will guide you through steps on how to initiate your mind into meditation and keeping it there during times of need. This will allow you to focus on a single thought, like finding a solution to your problem, while letting the worries and anxiety float away to nothing.
Steps to meditation.
You may consider to take the following steps:
A. Get a place of peace.
Stress management always starts with serenity and solitude, so you better pick a location that will help you start with meditation. You can pick a room in your house with the least amount of noise or go camp out with nature.
B. Relax By Focusing Your Mind On Specific Parts Of Your Body.
Start with your toes, legs, torso, stomach, hands, and chest. It’s best if you close your eyes and let your mind zero in on these areas. Tell each one to relax. Be extra careful not to fall asleep since this will immediately cease all meditative attempts.
Once you have relaxed each and every part of your body, you will feel a slight heaviness. This usually happens during your first try at meditation. After a while, you will no longer feel your body – as if its a non-existent part of yourself.
C. Focus On A Question, Like A Solution To Your Problem, With Your Mind.
You might notice that some thoughts or scenes appear and disappear like a fleeting memory – keep note of these in passing and don’t focus on them too much since this will defeat the practice of meditation. Imagine like your watching a movie.
When you encounter problems that will eventually lead to stress, you can invoke meditation almost instantly. If you practice enough, your mind will instantaneously clear itself of all cluttered nonsense and allow you to focus on how to deal with your stress.
Be Happy – Reduce Your Stress through Meditation.