Much like massage therapy and other alternative medicine practices, the art of meditation has many benefits and has been used for centuries.
When you think of meditation, you may be like many others, who conjure up images of a person sitting with their legs crossed and humming or repeating a mantra rhythmically, and some may certainly do this! They may do this daily because meditation has many positive effects on the mind and body.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has many health benefits, that promote both physical and mental well-being. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, lower high blood pressure, and of course calm the mind.
When practiced regularly, meditation provides physical benefits, due to the fact that when the mind is calm, stress and inflammation of the body can significantly be reduced.
Find A Point of Reference
Meditation therapy turns your focus to one individual point of reference. This can be a physical object, your breath (which is the most common) or some other bodily function, or something you are perceiving through one of your five senses.
The idea is to move your attention away from distractions and sensory clutter, to focus on just the present moment in time. Doing this brings about a sense of peace in the mind.
Those who have not previously practiced meditation will be surprised how difficult it is initially to maintain a quiet, gentle focus on something as simple and straightforward as their own breath.
Learning not to be distracted by external stimuli, and effortlessly returning focus to the point of reference is the initial goal of meditation, and the stage when benefits will be most experienced.
Meditation for Spiritual Healing
Meditation can also be used for spiritual healing, as it promotes relaxation while building internal energy (the life force, or qi). This ancient practice helps reduce the negative feelings such as resentment and anger, while boosting a positive spiritual attitude, embracing generosity, love and forgiveness.
One of the more ambitious goals of meditation is to achieve a state of nirvana – which is an indestructible sense of well-being – while engaging in any activity in life.
Meditation is a prominent pillar in many ancient eastern religions, particularly Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism.
Buddhist Meditation for Enlightenment
Buddhist meditation is the most popular and well-known of these, with non-Buddhists taking it up for a variety of mental and physical health benefits.
Buddhist meditation involves several different techniques that aim to develop mindfulness and concentration, tranquility and insight. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of their path towards Enlightenment, or Bodhi, where the Buddhist reaches a final and full understanding regarding the true nature of things.
When meditating, it is important to be sitting in an upright position. That helps with breathing, which can even be your own individual point of reference – as described above – to help with your meditating.
Mindfulness and mental silence are also crucial to meditation. In the early part of the 21st century, mindfulness meditation has become increasingly important to Westerners and their medical and psychological community as a means of helping people, regardless of whether they are sick or wish to improve their emotional wellbeing.