Meditation can be a tool for increasing the awareness of our physical self, our emotional self, and our mental patterns.
Practicing meditation helps us calm our breath, quiet our mind, and foster inner peace—as it stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps our body return to a relaxed state after the threat of danger, it helps a bout of anger or stress to pass.
There’s scientific evidence showing how meditation works. In people who are meditating, brain MRI scans have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate, and studies conducted on Buddhist monks showed that meditation produces long-lasting changes in the activity of the brain in areas related to attention, memory, and conscious perception.
The benefits of incorporating meditation into our lives include stress reduction, increased wellbeing, improved concentration and an overall improved mindset. Other benefits include the ability to understand your feelings more objectively and the ability to develop feelings that assist you in creating a positive outlook, helping you break unhealthy habits of emotional responses to external situations.
“Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” – Patanjali.
To receive all the benefits meditation has to offer, we must first get clear on what meditation is, why practicing it is important, and the various methods available to us. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to meditate is to engage in contemplation or reflection, to engage in mental exercises, such as concentrating on one’s breathing, an object or repeating a mantra or phrase.
Many teachings and religions focus on the philosophy of knowing and deeply understanding yourself. Meditation can be the starting point to understanding who you are, what you wish to get out of this life experience and what potential path you can embark on to create positive manifestations in your life.
The heart of meditation is the soothing power of repetition. Meditation is the process of achieving mental clarity and emotional calm by mindfully training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts to a particular word, thought, object or activity. As you begin to incorporate a meditation practice, you begin to increase awareness of your thought patterns: you notice repeating patterns of thoughts of the past, predictions of the future or anything that is holding you back in your life. Whether your patterns are based on fear, expectations, judgments or self-doubt, as you become aware of your patterns you can begin to steer them in a more constructive direction.
As you continue your meditation and you increase your ability to focus your thoughts, you learn to become less reactive to the never-ending fluctuations of your mind and your life. Meditation can be considered a sort of mental reprogramming technique, in which you habitually train your mind to redirect your thoughts and refocus them in to foster a stable and clear mind.
“Meditation is not difficult to learn but, like tennis, it is a skill. You need practice. In time, people develop the ability to produce a meditative, very relaxed state very quickly. When they meditate several times during the day, they become more relaxed during the entire day.” – Stan Chapman
Understanding the various forms of meditation can assist you in making a more educated choice when it comes to adapting the meditation that is more appropriate for certain goals you would like to achieve. There are two main styles of meditation. The first is focused attention meditation in which you direct your thoughts to a singular purpose. As you concentrate on your breath, your thoughts, an object, a phrase, a sound or visualizing a state of being, this type of mediation rides the wave of that distraction.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that encourages you to openly monitor the present moment. In this practice, you are encouraged to become aware of everything about yourself and your environment as it is in that specific point in time. This type of meditation includes you becoming more keenly aware of the thoughts, feelings and impulses as they come, without attachment or conversation.
The important thing is figuring out the most appropriate way to mold this practice to serve you. As you attempt different avenues and get to know yourself better, you can decide how you can efficiently incorporate meditation into your life for increased health and well being.
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