Transforming Your Health with Meditation

Take a Minute to Breathe and Rest

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What is Meditation?

We hear about people practicing meditation and how it helps them feel pleasant and calm, but what is meditation? Do we have to sit still and concentrate? Should I be thinking of nothing when I meditate?

The Benefits of Meditation

Studies have shown that meditation contributes to cardiovascular health. For example, the 2017 American Heart Association Scientific Statement on meditation and cardiovascular risk suggested that meditation may be considered as a guideline-directed cardiovascular risk-reduction intervention (Levin, et al., 2017). Meditation could potentially increase physical and mental relaxation, leading to better results after a significant cardiovascular event. Levin et al. also indicated that practicing meditation can be a low cost and low risk for patients. Besides, meditation is easily accessible to everyone. People can meditate anytime and anywhere.

Styles of Meditation

Many people consider quiet time as the hours we spend reading newspapers, watching TV, or listening to music. However, in these instances, our bodies may be still, but our minds remain active.

  • Chakra Meditation: Focusing on the chakra “the energy wheel” of the body with breathing or specific mantra sounds.
  • Contemplative Prayer: It usually involves the silent repetition of sacred words or sentences, with focus and devotion.
  • Contemplative Reading (Contemplation): It involves thinking deeply about the teachings and events in a sacred text.
  • Gazing Meditation: Gazing at an object.
  • Guided Meditation: The instructor provides scripts and reads aloud.
  • Loving Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation): Compassion meditation: A seated position with closed eyes generates thoughts in mind and feelings in the heart that reflect kindness and benevolence. Developing loving-kindness toward ourselves, others, and all beings.
  • Mantra Meditation: A mantra is a syllable or word. Repeat the mantra silently or verbally repeat during the whole session.
  • Mindful Meditation: An umbrella term for meditation styles that are used to create awareness and insight by practicing focusing your attention on observations, and accepting all that arises without judgment.
  • Qigong (Chi Kung): A Chinese martial style that cultivates life energy with slow body movements and focused breathing.
  • Sitting with God: A silent meditation which usually is preceded by contemplation or reading, which we focus our mind, heart, and soul on the presence of God.
  • Sound Meditation or Sound Bath: Listen to calming ambient music such as the Native American flute, a crystal bowl, a Tibetan singing bowl, a therapeutic harp, or a mixture of various sound healing instruments. It helps to quiet and collect the mind.
  • Sufi Meditation: The esoteric path within Islam. The practitioners of Sufism are called Sufis, and they have different types of meditations (e.g., Sufi mantra meditation, heartbeat meditation, Sufi walking, and Sufi whirling)
  • Third Eye Meditation: Focusing the attention between the eyebrows.
  • Yoga Nidra: Yogic sleep, which is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage. iRest is a modern adaptation of Yoga Nidra.
  • Walking meditation: Mindfully walking at a super slow pace. Engaging breath with each step. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is renowned for his walking meditation practice.
  • Zazen (seated meditation) in Zen Meditation: Sitting on a cushion or seat and focusing on breathing, or just sitting without dwelling on anything in particular.

Make Meditation a Habit

Controlling our mind is not as simple as seeing a red light and stopping or seeing a green light and moving forward, at least not at first. Make meditation a good and steady habit. Create an environment conducive for practicing meditation and then set aside the required time. Make it a routine. Take baby steps by starting with a few minutes and then gradually increase to longer amounts of time. Eventually, practicing meditation will become as natural as walking, talking, and even breathing. There are mobile apps that help people develop meditation habits, which in turn can change your life.

References

Devi, N. J. (2000). The healing path of yoga. Abundant Wellbeing.

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