Our modern lifestyle, particularly in the western world, is very fast paced, often stressful and sometimes even overwhelming. Actually, much of this pressure is self imposed but it is still a product of society and expectations, both our own and others. I think it is valuable to every now and then do a self check as to what is in our lives and how much of it is necessary and desirable. What can we eliminate to ease the pressure?
Regardless of the life we choose, a valuable addition to your lifestyle is meditation. Just as the body requires exercise to maintain health, so does the mind. As we go about our daily routines, the mind has a tendency to become clouded and scattered through multitasking. The pressures of normal life alone are enough to create some levels of stress which lead to the production of adrenaline. Adrenaline has a massive negative impact on us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Regular meditation practice helps to maintain a clearer more focused mind, thereby influencing our perceptions and therefore responses in our lives. It really doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives, it’s how we respond to our circumstances that will dictate our level of inner peace and happiness. In practical terms, you are probably aware of people that get upset by the “smallest” things, and yet other people can “cope” with catastrophies quite easily and calmly. A lot of this is due to perception and therefore how they think about things.
Although meditation is not a replacement for therapy, particularly where a shift in mindset is required, it is a very useful, daily practice that can literally change how you experience your life and it can be a great help in working through issues and sustaining health, mentally physically and emotionally in a busy world. The constant thoughts and chatter detract from the creativity, insight, inspiration, knowing and clarity that comes through the right hemisphere of the brain. Meditation helps to bring greater balance to the mind bringing access to these qualities.
Benefits To Your Mental and Emotional Health
There are many benefits to your overall mental and emotional well being from meditating. You may notice that when you have had a really relaxing holiday, you feel calmer, you don’t take yourself and your life so seriously, you become more easy going and little things don’t get to you. You may even notice that your joints don’t ache as much and you’ve got more energy. You just plain feel better! Meditation can help you experience more of this state in your every day life. You actually won’t need as many holidays but you’ll still be able to have them because you’ll be more productive and efficient. Basically, through regular meditation, anxiety levels decrease, problems become smaller, your mind becomes more focussed, sharper and clearer and your emotional stability will improve. Meditation can help you become aware that it is your inner attitude that will actually determine your happiness.
Benefits To Your Physical Health
As if the mental and emotional benefits of meditation are not enough reason to take it up, it has also been proven that meditation improves your physical health. Meditation helps lower high blood pressure, decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, insomnia, muscle and joint problems and improves the immune system. Without going into details, meditation has a positive impact on every aspect of your physical being.
Benefits To Your Spiritual Health
As mentioned earlier, our daily lives create a very cluttered and over-active mind. We are constantly thinking, planning and analysing. This raises the brain wave frequency that we operate at. The left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for these logical analytical processes and operates at a higher frequency. So the more pressure we give it, the higher the frequency. So, our normal operating level becomes higher and we can even become “stuck” at these high levels impacting our sleep (which is at a very low brain wave frequency).
The right hemisphere of the brain operates at a level lower than the left. Now this is how we access subconscious and super-conscious information. This is also where our ideas, our creativity, intuition and inspiration come from. So no matter what your spiritual beliefs, access to your these areas is vital to achieving a full and rewarding life.
Meditation helps to “unstick” the higher frequency pattern by regularly lowering it through focusing the mind, thus allowing greater access to those “less logical” abilities.
I am a full believer that there is never only one way to do anything. You need to find a style and routine that works for you and that you enjoy in order to experience the benefits. For me, my core meditation is Transcendental but I also really enjoyed mindfulness meditation in Thailand and will listen to a guided or therapeutic meditation when drawn to it. There are many styles of meditation. These are some of the common ones.
Types of Meditation
Basic Focus Meditation – This is probably the most basic meditation and is purely about training the mind to focus on just one thing and free the mind of thoughts. For example, your breath if your eyes are closed or a candle flame if open. Really, anything can be used.
Guided Visualisation Meditation – Listening to someone guide you to a state of deep relaxation through visualisation. Please note that you don’t need to be able to visualise to do this. You can use your imagination or just “feel” it. The purpose here is also to stimulate the right hemisphere of the brain.
Guided Therapeutic Meditation – This is similar to the above description but takes it a step further so that it has a therapeutic benefit as well.
Mindfulness Meditation – The philosophy of mindfulness is to bring the thoughts and awareness to the present. When we are thinking, we are usually thinking of the past or the future and this causes the stress in our lives. By becoming aware of yourself in the present moment, you clear the mind of all unnecessary thought.
Transcendental Meditation – The purpose here is to transcend thought. So rather than trying to clear the mind of thought, TM teachers will teach you a style that utilises the natural tendencies of the mind to achieve freedom of thought in a more effortless way.
If you are interested in learning more, I recommend Suzanne Edwards in several locations in Melbourne. Her number is 0488 762 577
Tips On Meditating
Formally learning meditation from an expert is very valuable and is a skill that you will carry for the rest of your life. But if you are not ready for that, just try some basics to dip your toe in;
– Practice Daily.
Starting a new habit does take a bit of time, and you can start small. Dedicate maybe 2 minutes a day to meditate, just make sure you keep it up. Once it becomes ingrained into your daily routine, it can be the best part of your day. Then it will be easier to build it up.
– Be Aware of Your Breathing
Focus your attention to your breath. Breathe nice long and deep breathes and follow it all the way through from your nose to your lungs.
– Focus The Mind
Focusing on your breathing is a good start, but trying to clear the mind completely can be very difficult, so some form of focus is helpful. Either way you are training the mind to let go of “too many things in your head”.
– Don’t Stress if Your Mind Wanders
Your mind will absolutely lose focus during your meditation session. Don’t stress out about it! Once you become aware, just focus again on your breathing and keep going. Don’t let it deter you.
– Don’t Worry About Doing It Wrong
It’s important to understand that there is not ‘doing it wrong’. Don’t let thoughts of this intrude into your mind as there really is no perfect way to meditate.
If you’re a beginner, it’s always a good idea to follow some guided meditation videos or audios, and see what style suits you best.
I have one that you can find at the link below.
Meditation has truly amazing benefits and I do encourage everyone to start and see how it can wonderfully impact on your life.