It is no secret that stress levels have been on the rise everywhere in the world. Whether they are health, financial or family issues, there are always additional stress triggers coming up. When we are stressed, our day-to-day interactions with co-workers, family, and friends become compromised. The length and quality of sleep is diminished, and our general health declines. Discover some meditation techniques to help ease your stress!
There are multiple ways to deal with stress. This includes increasing organizational skills, delegation of tasks, and simple deep breathing exercises. In more extreme cases, sometimes anti-anxiety medications are prescribed or therapy is recommended.
One stress-coping mechanism becoming more and more popular is meditation. Meditation is gaining popularity not only as a stress reliever, but also as an alternative medicine to increase general health. Additionally, some schools are starting to integrate meditation into the classroom as a way to help students find focus and deal with anxiety. There are also teachers who believe that meditation helps increase brain function and create new pathways for learning.
Meditation Techniques for Everyone
Meditation is the process of focusing one’s mind in an effort to reach a heightened state of awareness and calm. It is a mental exercise that differs from simply “zoning out” for a bit of time. To effectively meditate, you must do so with a purpose and a level of mindfulness.
Whether you have dabbled in meditation, or if the extent of your meditation experience is knowing something about the word “om,” meditation is something everyone can learn to do. The numerous benefits of trying out different meditation techniques make it worth trying. According to Art of living, some of the benefits of meditation, which can be both physical and emotional, include:
- Lower stress levels.
- Increased attention span.
- Increased immunity.
- Improved metabolism, which helps you lose weight.
- Helps you sleep better and wake up feeling rested.
- Helps you feel more connected to the world around you.
- Improved brain function.
The science behind meditation is still developing. However, a Chinese study showed strong evidence that meditation increases blood flow to certain key areas in the brain. With the rising costs of health care, it would not be surprising to see more studies conducted on meditation and other alternative treatment options.
Where Does Meditation Come From?
It is believed that meditation has a deep and ancient history, possibly dating back to the earliest days of civilization. Early writings allude to traditions of quiet reflection in societies, an ancient paintings depict people in various poses that sociologists believe reflect meditative poses. In a study reported in Psychology Today, Dr. Robert Puff pointed out that meditation is a part of every major world religion. Although meditation is often connected to Eastern religions, like Buddhism and Hinduism, there are references in the Bible, the Quran, and Jewish religious scriptures to meditation. Meditation has evolved throughout time, and now it is closely identified with Indian scriptures and the teachings of the Buddha.
The practice of meditation has gained popularity in the past 40 to 50 years. Many scientists and doctors study the benefits meditation can have on serious illnesses and general health. You do not have to subscribe to a specific religion to experiment with various meditation techniques. While it may be a good choice to have a meditation teacher, you can learn it on your own. People of all ages, races and fitness levels can practice meditation, and you do not need much space or time to do it effectively.
How Do I Begin?
Mindfulness Meditation Techniques
As mentioned, meditation is a process of focusing the mind. This is actually called “mindfulness,” and it is the most popular form of meditation. According to Noetic,”Mindfulness is found in many contemplative traditions, but is most often identified with the Theravadan Buddhist practice of vipassana, or ‘insight meditation’.” Mindfulness meditation techniques include the following:
- Focus on an object. The object can be anything from an actual object to one’s breath, feelings, or body sensations.
- Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and try to focus only on the one specific object for a specific period of time. Depending on how long you want to meditate, you can meditate in this way for one minute or an hour – it is up to you.
By focusing on one object or action, by being mindful of one thing for a period of time, your mind will be focused, which will increase concentration, relieve stress, and provide a sense of calm. Mindfulness meditation is also a form of meditation taught and practiced by some Buddhists. One of the traits of Buddhist meditation techniques is actually focusing on breathing itself in an effort to obtain a state of meditative absorption called dhyana. According to The Buddhist Center, dhyana is meditation which leads to self awareness.
Transcendental Meditation Techniques
Transcendental meditation is one of the meditation techniques for stress. Transcendental meditation is also said to reduce anxiety, mood disorders, and even hypertension (high blood pressure).
Transcendental meditation is traditionally practiced for about 20 minutes, twice a day. The individual closes his or her eyes and sits comfortably in a quiet, calm environment. With the eyes closed, the person repeats a mantra, which is a word or a sound repeated to enhance concentration and focus the mind.
Chakra Meditation Techniques
The foundation of chakra meditation is a belief that the body is a physical representation of a person’s beliefs, thoughts and emotions. The entirety of a person’s body is then composed of chakra centers that reflect these metaphysical attributes. There are many different chakra centers, but according to Wellbeing Alignment, there are seven main chakras that more or less direct a person’s life. Additionally, each chakra emits its own color that those who practice chakra meditation say is visible. The seven main chakras, the elements they represent, and their color are:
- Crown Chakra – linked with awareness and “oneness.” Violet or pure white light.
- Brow Chakra – inner vision, linked with the idea of a “third eye.” Indigo.
- Throat Chakra – expression of thoughts, wants and needs. Shades of blue.
- Heart Chakra – love. Green or pink.
- Solar Plexus Chakra – self-esteem and personal power. Yellow.
- Sacral Chakra – creativity and innocence. Orange.
- Root Chakra – family, the physical earth, and sexuality. Red.
When a person utilizes chakra meditation techniques, the person focuses on the area that needs attention. For example, if you get in a fight with your significant other, instead of dwelling on your anger toward the other person, you would meditate on the various chakras that deal with romantic love, interpersonal relationships, or expression.
Which Meditation Techniques Are Best?
There is no proven, correct way to meditate. There are many more forms of meditation exercises and philosophies than those listed above. Meditation began centuries ago, and evidence of meditative practices can be seen in almost every culture and religion. Therefore, it is a time-tested process that is almost a natural response to stress. Some people pray, some people nap, and some people daydream about a better life, but in a way these are all forms of meditation. Taking the time to learn about what form of meditation speaks to you has the potential to help you reduce stress and live a happier, possibly longer life.