Meditation: Why it will make you a better person

Meditation has been practiced since time immemorial in various parts of the world under one’s religious traditions. It is generally thought as a path one needs for attaining enlightenment. But it is much more than that. Through meditation, even if you don’t want or don’t achieve enlightenment, it can still be a little miracle to your life and will change you and your perspective towards life forever.

History

The practice of meditation has been practiced in certain religions like Hinduism since the start. But as of now the earliest known starting of the practice was around 700-800 CE established by an Indian philosopher and theologia who concatenated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. Meditation in Hinduism is called Dhyana, which essentially means contemplation and meditation. It was earlier concentrated and practiced only in the Asian region and cultures, But Since the 19th century, Asian meditative techniques have spread to other cultures where they have also found application in non-spiritual contexts, such as business and health.

Definition

There is as such no clear cut definition for what meditation is as it captures a very broad set of ideas and techniques, But all throughout the history people have tried to define it. Some notable ones are given below-

  • Walsh & Shapiro (2006): “Meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration”.
  • Cahn & Polich (2006): “Meditation is used to describe practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby affecting mental events by engaging a specific attentional set…. regulation of attention is the central commonality across the many divergent methods”.
  • Jevning et al. (1992): “We define meditation… as a stylized mental technique… repetitively practiced for the purpose of attaining a subjective experience that is frequently described as very restful, silent, and of heightened alertness, often characterized as blissful
  • In modern psychological research, meditation has been defined and characterized in a variety of ways. Most of them emphasize the role of attention and characterize the practice of meditation as attempts to get beyond the reflexive, “discursive thinking” or “logic”mind to achieve a deeper, more devout, or more relaxed state.

Types of Meditation

There are many other definitions out there. One simply cannot say that one definition is right and others are wrong. They have been conceptualised by people’s own understanding of what meditation actually is. But the general consensus is that it is a method of trying to attain a peaceful and a blissful mind.

There are numerous types Of meditations known to us from different religions but below are some of the more popular ones-

  • mindfulness meditation
  • spiritual meditation
  • focused meditation
  • movement meditation
  • mantra meditation
  • transcendental meditation

There are different techniques used for different types but by far the most popular is the

Focused method

In this one pays the attention to their breath, to an idea or feeling (such as love-kindness), to a kõan ( which is a story, a dialogue, a question, or a statement), or to a mantra, and single point meditation (like focusing all thoughts on a point on the forehead in between the eyebrows).

Benefits

One cannot emphasize more the importance of mental health in this day and age where more people than ever before in the history are becoming mentally ill with some going to the extreme extent of ending their life. Although one can rightly put that meditation alone cannot be a preventive or curative process but it can definitely be an adjunct.

1- A 2014 review by the US National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health found that practice of mindfulness meditation for two to six months by people undergoing long-term psychiatric or medical therapy could produce small improvements in

a) anxiety

b) pain

c) depression.

2- In 2017, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement that meditation may be a reasonable adjunct practice to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, with the qualification that meditation needs to be better defined in higher-quality clinical research of these disorders.

3- Low-quality evidence indicates that meditation may help with

a) Irritable bowel syndrome

b) Insomnia

c) Cognitive decline in elderly

d) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

4- Reduces Stress

Stress may disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. Meditation has been proven beneficial in reducing stress and thus all the adverse effects caused by it.

5- Promotes Emotional Health

Some forms of meditation can also lead to an improved self-image and more positive outlook on life. Meditation decreases inflammatory molecules like cytokines, which causes body to develop a state of stress.

6- Heighten Self Awareness

For example self awareness meditation helps you to get a better understanding of yourself and also to change your outlook for others around you.

7- Increase Attention span

Focused meditation as discussed above can improve the attention span and concentration as a result of reduced stress and a calmer mind.

8- Reduces Blood Pressure

A study of 996 volunteers found that when they meditated by concentrating on a “silent mantra” — a repeated, non-vocalized word — reduced blood pressure by about five points, on average.

9- Helps with de addiction

Studies which included recovering alcoholics found that people who practiced meditation recovered faster than those who didn’t.

Bottomline,

Although there various types of meditation and various techniques, the ultimate results or wanted results of all of them are to achieve a heightened state of mind. A mind which is peaceful or calm, in a state of blissfulness and a mind whose every action is consciously decided and not just by reacting to outside stimulus.

You can do it anywhere without the need of any equipments. Trying out different style of mediation suited to your goals is a pronounced way to improve your life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day. Try it now and you can feel the difference yourself.

Disclaimer: All images have been used only for information purposes. They are downloaded from publically available sources. If any copyright claim please contact: mindfulindian8@gmail.com

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