Meditation Benefits, History, Types, Process, Tips and Suggestions, Possible Side Effects, Precautions and FAQ
What is Meditation?
Nowadays Meditation has become popular in many Western countries, especially in the United States. An ever increasing number of research shows various health benefits associated with meditation and these results have generated interest in medicine.
The practice of meditation originated during the ancient Vedic period of India and this is described in Vedic texts.
Meditation is the comprehensive, natural health care system that emerged during the ancient Vedic period of India. It is one of the methods used in Ayurveda (Life Sciences).
Benefits and Important things about Meditation
Meditation includes meditation, concentration, sounds of nature such as sea, guided meditation, meditative movement exercises such as yoga and tai chi (Tai-chi), kigong, breathing exercises, and mantras. These techniques work at different levels such as senses, mind, intelligence, and emotions. Some techniques are easy to learn and practice, while others are more difficult and can lead to the practitioner quitting the exercise at the beginning.
The following article brings you some important facts about the health benefits and other effects of practicing meditation.
Types of Meditation
Meditation may have different forms, but there are two main types:
1) Concentrative Meditation and
2) Mindfulness Meditation.
Concentrative Meditation focuses all your attention on a particular thing while tuning everything around you. The goal is to really feel what you are focusing on (e.g., your breath, specific words, or mantras) so that you can reach a higher state of existence.
Mindfulness meditation involves Attention. Attention can target a variety of problems, such as depression. It involves being aware and involved in the present moment and the position of freeing, alerting and accepting oneself.
Health Benefits of Meditation
Research has shown that meditation can have both physical and psychological effects. Some positive physical effects include reduced physical arousal, reduced respiration rate, lower heart rate, changes in brain wave type and decreased mental stress.
Other health benefits of meditation include –
- Better management of symptoms associated with depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders or Insomnia, pain and aches and high blood pressure
- Improved pressure management
- Changes in different aspects of concentration and focus
- Increased self-awareness
- Improved emotional well-being
- Improved functional memory and fluid intelligence
- Improved immunity
- Increased sympathy oneself and others
- Headache Relief etc.
How to Practice Meditation
If you are a beginner for meditation then you can follow as mentioned below –
1) Choose a quiet place free from distraction. Keep your phone, television and other distracting gadgets at bay. If you want to play quiet music, choose something calm and repetitive.
2) Set a time limit. Start by having a short meditation session of 5-10 minutes at the beginning. Later you can extend the time at your own convenience.
3) Pay attention to your body and take a comfortable position. You can sit on the floor or on a chair with your legs folded. Prefer sitting in a position that you can maintain for a long period of time.
4) Focus on your breathing. Try deep breathing that expands your stomach and then exhale slowly. Pay attention to how each breath feels.
5) Aim your thoughts. Though meditation doesn’t aim to free you from those thoughts, rather it will calm your mind and lead you to think about your problems in a disciplined manner. Then gently shift your focus back to breathing. Ignore those irritating thoughts for a while and focus only on your body.
Suggestions for Practicing Meditation
If you are interested in meditation, there are some tips and tricks that will help you start a profitable meditation exercise.
- Start slow. Start by having a brief session of about 5 to 10 minutes a day, and then make your way gradually to a longer session.
- Set a schedule. For example, try meditating at the same time every day for the first few minutes in the morning.
- Be comfortable. Sitting on the floor with your legs folded is an option, but comfort is the real key. You have to be in a position where you can sit for several minutes without being uncomfortable, harsh or unstable.
- Focus on what you are feeling. Breathe normally and notice the feelings and sensations you feel while breathing.
- Do not try to suppress your feelings. Your mind is bound to travel as you meditate – and sometimes it can lead to thoughts and feelings and can be uncomfortable or even painful. Concentrate on those tangled thoughts and focus on what you are feeling and breathe like you can feel it.
Possible Side Effects of Meditating
Meditation may have lots of benefits, but there is also some potential harm to see. As you have started a new meditation practice, it may be easier to expect soon. The reality is that it takes time and practice to develop a habit that can have a positive impact on your health and well-being.
It is also important to be aware that meditation is not without certain risks. One study found that meditation often led to problematic feelings and thoughts that were difficult to control. The study also found that meditation can worsen symptoms of certain mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Some reports suggest that meditation may trigger or increase mental state, so meditation is not recommended for people with conditions such as schizophrenia.
The information provided in the above article about meditation are based on reliable sources but not intended to replace an expert’s advice. Remember, meditation can be difficult sometimes. Please take help of a physical therapist or any fitness expert if you are a beginner. Otherwise, you may end up creating difficulties for yourself.
Sources: NCBI Article
1) Where should I meditate?
A. Any reasonably quiet, comfortable place where you are unlikely to get any disturbances.
2) How do I sit during meditation?
A. Always try to sit in a comfortable position while meditating. Place your body in such a way that the body muscles are able to shrink and relax.
3) Can I sleep and meditate?
A. It is generally advised to sit down instead of sleeping while meditating. However, if sitting upright is too painful or uncomfortable, you can sleep and meditate. Try to place a thin pillow under your head and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. This will help protect your lower back.
4) Is there a specific way I breathe while meditating?
A. No, when we meditate, we do not try to breathe in a particular way. It is necessary only for the breath to be completely normal and felt.
5) How do I start meditating again after the break?
A. It will depend on how long you have taken the break. If it’s only been a few days, start right where you left off. If it has been at least a week, it is recommended to resume the process. If it’s been more than a month, you may probably start from a basic state.
6) What should I do if I fall asleep while meditating?
A. Like restlessness, sleeping while meditating is a common problem. First, you can observe the feeling of sleepiness. Where do you feel it in your body? Is it just mental dullness or are you physically tired too? Perhaps you should take a nap rather than meditating.
7) How do I know if I am meditating the right way?
A. This question reflects your target-oriented perfection that monitors your activities so you are doing them properly. The big thing about meditation is that you can’t make it wrong, not to do it at all. (In fact, it is the puritans that cause most of your stress. And the point of meditation is to reduce stress, not to intensify it. )
To know when your meditation is effective, you probably won’t notice any flashing lights or sudden energy jolts. Instead, you can detect subtle changes. Have complete faith in the process of meditation and let the changes in the body settle on its own.
8) Do I have to give up my religious beliefs to meditate?
A. Certainly not. You can apply the basic principles and techniques of meditation to any spiritual or religious tradition or orientation. In fact, many have found that the roots of the East are actually supplemented by prayer and faith with some direct experience of God’s love and presence, deepening their relationship with their own Western beliefs.