Why you should meditate
Relaxation and peace is not the goal of meditation. It is only a result. Contemporary research has found that practicing meditation on a regular basis, has several long-term and short-term benefits on your body and mind.
Practitioners experience a wide range of benefits as regular meditation helps to –
1. Expand your brain in thickness & volume resulting in enhanced memory, self-control, concentration, etc.
2. Create a better connection with your own self.
3. Increase the flow of blood to the brain for improved brain functions.
4. Reduce production of the stress-induced hormone cortisol reducing stress and anxiety.
5. Calm your mind by decreasing EEG activity.
6. Lower heart rate and blood pressure.
7. Increase neuroplasticity which makes you more efficient.
8. Boost the production of good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that control our moods.
9. Trigger the parasympathetic nervous system that helps to reduce stress.
10. Improve your immune system.
11. Boost the amount of grey matter in the brain which controls muscle, vision, hearing, speech, memory, and emotions.
12. Lead to enhanced muscle relaxation and reduces muscle tension.
13. Drastically slows down the aging process by boosting melatonin & DHEA.
14. Reduce and prevent conditions like depression.
15. Improve stress resilience by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system.
16. Increase awareness of the present moment by stimulating the prefrontal cortex.
17. Improve your ability to learn new skills and information.
18. Boost compassion and empathy.
19. Increase your sense of purpose & meaning.
20. Enhance intelligence and emotional stability through regular practice.
21. Makes you more energetic by requiring less sleep.
However, the real benefit of meditation, as per Buddhist philosophy, is the liberation of your mind from attachments and things we can’t control. You will experience a sense of inner peace and harmony as you become more liberated.
The Basic Approaches To Meditation
When trying to understand meditation for beginners, you must gain some insight into the 2 fundamental approaches to meditation. All meditation techniques basically fall under two major camps. Irrespective of what type of meditation you prefer to practice, it will largely fall under these two approaches:
- A focused awareness meditation
- A free awareness meditation
Focused awareness meditation
When you meditate with a seed, it is referred to as focused awareness meditation. This means you focus your attention on a particular thing like a mantra or the sensation of your body (Vipassana) or even your breath.
On the other hand, when you meditate without any seed, it is known as free awareness meditation. When following this approach, you focus your attention on your awareness itself. As this is an advanced approach, you acknowledge your thoughts and let go as you do not focus on any specific thing.
Both approaches lead to the same destination to deep concentration, inner peace, harmony, relaxation, confidence, and clarity.
6 Types of meditation
As I said before, there is no right way or wrong way for you to meditate. However, it is crucial that you find the meditation practice which is suited to your needs. Here are the 6 most popular, but not limited to, meditation practices that you can choose from-
- Mindfulness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Movement meditation
- Focused meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Mantra meditation
As not all these meditation styles will be right for each and everyone, you need to develop a particular mindset to practice your preferred style. Just go for whichever one feels the most comfortable to you and you feel motivated to practice.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is perhaps the most popular and widely practiced style of meditation, especially in the West. Based on ancient Buddhist teachings, mindfulness meditation is the most simple practice that requires you to focus your attention on your breath.
You simply observe and allow your thoughts to appear and pass without judging them or getting involved in them. By focusing on your breath or any object, you observe your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations.