By: Marlene Affeld ~
For centuries, mankind has sought out ways to combat fear and find inner peace. Some of the very earliest written records of the practice of meditation come from the Hindu around 1500 B.C.
Originally meditation was a sacred practice meant to help deepen the understanding of the mystical and spiritual forces in life. Today, rather than just focusing on spiritual growth, meditation is also used for stress reduction, relaxation, healing and self-improvement.
Meditation has gone mainstream; recognized as a simple and easy way to reduce stress. Recent statistics show that more than 10 million people in the United States actively practice meditation.
If chronic stress has left you feeling fatigued, tense, anxious, and worried, spending even a few minutes of mindful meditation can renew your energy, restore a sense of balance and calm and bring about an attitude of gratitude and serenity.
Meditation is especially beneficial if you have a medical condition that may worsen with stress. While the evidence is not conclusive, however, there is a great deal of scientific research that supports the health benefits of meditation.
While meditation is not a replacement for any ongoing medical treatment, it is viewed as a type of mind-body complementary medicine that produces a tranquil mind and a deep state of relaxation. Meditation may be helpful in the management of symptoms of asthma, depression, anxiety disorders, heart disease, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and cancer. Many former insomniacs report that meditation is the way to a good night’s sleep.
The emotional benefits of meditation include gaining a new perspective on stressful situations and building new skills to manage your stress. With meditation comes a new self-awareness, fewer bad dreams, a new sense of creativity and hope for tomorrow.
Adult or child, man or woman; anyone can practice meditation. Meditation is simple, doesn’t require any special equipment and it’s free. One of the best things about meditation, is you can learn to practice it whenever and wherever you want to find peace and calm just when you need it most. The benefits don’t stop when your meditation session is over, but rather help you carry on calmly for the remainder of your day.
Meditation can wash away the day’s stress while bringing a sense of release and an inner stillness. Our minds are constantly bombarded by a diverse array of jumbled thoughts that crowd our consciousness and fight for our attention. During meditation, by focusing your thoughts, you quiet the chatter, clearing away the information overload that contributes to your stress.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., founder and Director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, advises that one simplest ways to bring awareness into your life is through walking meditation.
“This brings your attention to the actual experience of walking as you are doing it, focusing on the sensations in your feet and legs, feeling your whole body moving,” Dr. Kabat-Zinn explains. “You can also integrate awareness of your breathing with the experience.”
To do this walking exercise, center the attention on each foot as it contacts the ground. When your mind wanders away from the legs or feet, or the feeling of the body walking, redirect your attention. To deepen your concentration, don’t look around, but keep your gaze focused in front of you.
“One thing that you find out when you have been practicing mindfulness for a while is that nothing is quite as simple as it appears,” says Dr. Kabat-Zinn. “This is as true for walking as it is for anything else. For one thing, we carry our mind around with us when we walk, so we are usually absorbed in our own thoughts to one extent or another. We are hardly ever just walking, even when we are ‘just going out for a walk.’ Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself.”
Types Of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation including guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi gong. It pays to do some research, attend some classes, and try different methods until you find the meditation method that is right for you.
It is once again stressed that meditation is not a replacement for traditional medical treatment. It can however, be a useful addition to any other type of treatment.