The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits and there are a number of scientific studies that give empirical evidence to show that meditation can improve health.
Some of the earliest written records of meditation (Dhyana), come from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism around 1500 BCE. Other forms of meditation seem to have developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India around the 6th to 5th centuries BCE.
There are so many different types and numbers of meditation techniques depending on where you look, it is about finding the right type of meditation for the student and they can change and try something new as they progress.
Meditation is basically the process of training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts or clear them all together.
People use the practice to develop beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance.
How do I meditate?
People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which don't require specialised equipment or space. It can be practiced in just a few minutes daily.
You can sit in a chair, crossed legged on the floor or even laid down. As long as you are in a comfortable position you can meditate. Be warned though, if you are too comfortable you might fall asleep which defeats the purpose.
There are two major styles of meditation:
Focused-attention meditation: Concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasises ridding your mind of attention and distraction. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra or a calming sound.
Open-monitoring meditation: Encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of the environment, train of thought and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of thoughts, feelings or impulses that you might normally try to suppress.
Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health.
You can do it anywhere, without special equipment or memberships.
There's a great variety of styles too, each with different strengths and benefits.
Trying out a style of mediation suited to an individual’s goals is a great way to improve their quality of life, even if they only have a few minutes to do it each day.
What are the benefits?
Studies have shown that meditation can:
1. Reduces Stress - it can reduce stress and also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.
2. Control Anxiety - helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
3. Promote Emotional Health - some forms can improve depression and create a more positive outlook on life.
4. Enhance Self-Awareness - self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help students "know yourself."
5. Lengthen Attention Span - may build the ability to redirect and maintain attention. As little as four days of meditation may have an effect.
6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss - improved focus gained may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
7. Can Generate Kindness - metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others.
8. May Help Fight Addictions - meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help individuals recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.
9. Improve Sleep - can help relax and control the "runaway" thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.
10. Help Control Pain - meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.
11. Can Decrease Blood Pressure - blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly.
12. You Can Meditate Anywhere