Meditation is considered a way to train the mind. According to Harvard Medical
School professor Dr. Herbert Benson, people who used to mediate use 17% less oxygen showed lower heart rates and produced increased brain waves to help with sleep.
Meditation originated back as early as 5000 BCE, traced back to ancient Egypt and China, tied to the religious practices of Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Afterward, this concept spread along the Silk Road and moved towards Asia. Meditation spread from Asia to the west before the 20th century. In recent years, meditation is being studied by doctors and scientists for its medical and other health benefits.
❖ COMMON FORMS OF MEDITATION
Meditation has many standard forms. Some of them are:
➢ Guided meditation: The collection of practices and techniques that focus on a particular object or suspension of ideas. It is often associated with our mental life. A leader provides verbal prompts or instructions to direct the individual or group of individuals through the practice in guided mediation.
➢ Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): This technique was developed to help people suffering from tension and stress and provides many benefits. This practice can be considered muscle-body-based, focusing on relaxing muscles in a directed protocol, tightening specific muscles, and releasing them. Research and studies have shown that PMR helps to reduce anxiety, and reverse stress, and helps remove tight muscles.
➢ Guided Imagery: It is also known as guided visualization, is a technique involving direct thoughts and sensations engaging positive mental images and sensory recall, meaning the conjuring tastes, smells, sounds and textures, and visual images. As it is regarded as multi-sensorial, it draws on our creative selves. Research and intense studies support that various health benefits such as invoking calm, improving performance, and healing trauma are associated.
Guided imagery or guided visualization can be conducted in individual as well as in group settings too. Multiple quality audio recordings are a suitable form of guided imagery that can be used in clinical settings.
➢ Self-Massage: Self-Massage, also known as Abhyanga, is regarded as one of the most active forms of mindfulness practice that follows the ancient ayurvedic tradition of self-massage. It is a form that shows fruitful results if practiced daily and is known to stimulate the immune system and promote circulation and body-mind awareness. It also brings calm and vitality and is helpful during times of sheltering and isolation.
➢ Loving Kindness Meditation: Loving-Kindness Meditation, Also known as a gentle guided meditation, supports emotional and mind-body wellness. It also prevents compassion fatigue and builds mindful leadership. Through the supporting research, it has been known that this technique has gained prominence in clinical settings and is especially helpful to prevent burnout for health care workers. This technique involves the mechanism helping to send out thoughts and intentions for unconditional love toward oneself and outward to others and bring peace and healing. This technique is sometimes called the ‘’heart-based’’ form, which draws on feelings and thoughts of pure love.
❖ BENEFITS TO MEDITATING
● Meditation provides excellent benefits to people undergoing cancer treatment or having chronic illnesses.
● It is known to reduce anxiety and pain and helps to improve the quality of life.
● People suffering from high blood pressure may seek meditation, and it helps to control blood pressure.
● Women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms and menstrual problems can seek great benefits by adopting meditation. Meditation leads to better sleep and less stress, along with lesser pain and hot flashes.
● Meditation is known to help the immune system to function properly and enhances the mood leading to better cognitive development and brain function.
❖ PRACTICING MEDITATION
Meditation is the soothing practice available to all and requires only a few minutes of quiet, openness, and willingness to let go. Meditation is called a practice in which the mind is powerful, in which practitioners have enough room to grow and try again. It is essential to refrain from judgment of oneself and process before beginning the meditation.
Before starting meditation, always find a quiet spot where you can either sit down in a chair or on the floor. If it is comfortable for you, you can even lay down. Be patient as you begin the practice and take a moment to pause and reflect if your mind wanders, and slowly bring your attention back to the center. The more you practice meditation, the easier it becomes, and with a bit of commitment, you will be able to focus more intensely on practicing meditation.
❖ Mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation helps to stand zero in thoughts and images as they appear in front of someone and helps to focus on the awareness of the present moment. The start is taken from a single central point, such as breath, and the process is then expanded to thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Here are some of the tips which can be kept in mind during meditation:
➔ Sit in a chair or on the floor if it is easy and find a quiet place with few distractions.
➔ Focus on the sensation of air and be aware of your breathing rate moving in and out of the body during each breath. Feel the air entering your nostrils and your belly rise.
➔ Observe every thought coming in mind and whenever an idea comes up, never hold them back. Return to breathing rate and note them.
➔ As soon as you reach the time to close, get up slowly and sit for 1 to 2 minutes. For best results, it is recommended to meditate for 20 to 30 minutes each day.