The stressful lives we lead today take their toll on our health. Mental stress and physical fatigue drain us of our positive energy leaving us depleted physically, mentally and emotionally. Considered to be part of alternative medicine, meditation is fast gaining popularity amongst conventional medical practitioners as well. Patients are increasingly being advised to meditate for sometime in the day, which is believed to have a positive effect along with the allopathic medicines prescribed for a number of medical conditions.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a technique that helps us focus and calms the mind resulting in relaxed and restful state of physical and mental being. Meditation is generally focused on one constant thing, usually your breath. Meditation is an effective tool to gain mind control, self-awareness and understanding that eventually lead to inner calm and peacefulness. For people practice meditation, it can lead to profound experiences of self-realization and transcendental awareness and knowledge. A proven alternative therapy, meditation is a known stress reliever.
Meditation is beneficial not only psychologically but is known to have positive effects on various health conditions ranging from blood pressure, insomnia to even depression. There are different techniques of meditation that people follow today. These are a product of diverse cultures and peoples around the world. The power of meditation has been harnessed to alleviate pain, suffering and promote healing for centuries in different cultures and religions, in some or the other form.
Types of meditation
There are various types of meditation that originate from various parts of the world. Prayer is possibly the most common one, the others are Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness meditation, Zen meditation, Buddhist Meditation and Taoist Meditation.
The body under meditation
Scientific experimentation and research has found out how the human body reacts under profound meditation. It has been found that the meditation process counteracted the effects of the sympathetic nervous system – the one that wants to fight or flee. Whereas the sympathetic system dilates the pupils and gets the heart rate, respiration and blood pressure up, the parasympathetic system, activated when we meditate, does just the opposite.
Muscle tension decreases, blood pressure drops, and for some extraordinary practitioners, even temperature and basal metabolism rates drop during a prolonged meditation. Oxygen needs of the body are reduced when you are in a highly relaxed state, and brain waves change from the busy beta waves to the blissful alpha waves.
There are two major approaches to meditation, which are Concentrative Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation. These can be explained as follows –
1. Concentrative Meditation
The approach to still the mind is to focus the attention on the breath, image or sound (mantra). This gives way to greater awareness and clarity. In its most basic form concentrative meditation requires you to sit quietly and focus your attention on your breath. Practitioners of yoga and meditation believe that there is a direct correlation between one’s state of mind and one’s breath. For e.g. when a person is anxious, frightened, agitated or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow, rapid and irregular. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused and composed, the breath tends to be slow, deep and regular.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
In this type of meditation, the mind is aware of all that is happening around you. You just observe the sounds, feelings, sensations, images, thoughts, smells etc without getting involved in them or thing about them. The person is just like a spectator who is witnessing everything but one who does not react or get involved with thoughts, memories, feelings, worries or images. This helps to gain a more calm, clear and non-reactive state of mind.
Kevin Pederson has been managing a number of natural home remedies websites which have information on home based natural cures and remedies for some of the most common illnesses as well as methods of meditation .