Updated: Feb 21, 2019
The Idea of Meditation
Think of the images we associate with meditation; sitting alone in lotus pose in a beautiful setting, maybe at a spa, the beach, the forest. Maybe we even think of monks sitting high atop a mountain in a trance, chanting OM. Go Google meditation and look at the images, no seriously go look at them.
Western society has preconceived notions about mediation and the internet is full of what one expects meditation to be. There also seems to be myths around the idea of checking out of society or the mediation requires oodles of time. When people talk about mediation it can sound elitist and off-putting or difficult.
The essence of meditation is regulating your body and mind so that you feel healthy mentally and physically, and in theory function as a better human being in society. However getting started with meditation can be an act in futility and lead to more stress instead of stress reduction.
What is Meditation
We are assaulted by noises, pictures, video, talking and commercials. Our lives are fast, loud and can seem very out of control. Many of us are not having our needs met, or our desires or hopes met, we have no idea what brings us joy and we have no idea that we can create it for ourselves without money, material things or relying on someone else to fulfill us. It's no wonder, being "busy" is looked upon as a positive trait in western society. This culture of busy-ness is slowing killing us and making us unhappy, have mental and physical health issues. Western society has only recently found the concept of self care and meditation as a tool for reducing stress and increasing fulfillment in life, but we still praise each other for being busy.
We attribute mediation with eastern spiritual practices, however, every culture uses some form of meditation usually for spiritual purposes, examples are chanting, dancing, reciting ancient texts, and even praying. Meditation does not have to be silence. It can be listening to a positive piece of music, singing, running and feeling your body and breath, practicing yoga. Everyone has different needs and what you need from your meditation practice is personal choice.
On a biological level, research shows that mediation can help reset the autonomic nervous system and take us out of a flight, fight or freeze setting that sometimes gets left on after anxiety, trauma or intense situations. Many well-researched forms of clinical mental health therapy are now using elements of mediation as part of treatment. In the medical field, mindfulness practices are now used in hospital setting not just for patients but also for hospital staff.
Research has also proved that mediation reduces feeling of stress, depression and anxiety, which lead to a more positive mood. A mediation practice can lead to more emotional awareness and physical awareness, leading to better relationships with self and others. Physically mediation can reduce hypertension by decreasing blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce insomnia symptoms, increase the ability to concentrate, increase the ability to control chronic pain and promote body awareness.
Benefits of Meditation
Here are some rocking articles on research that is being done on mediation.
Here is a study at Johns Hopkins
Here is an article from Psychology Today
Helps the immune system Article about improving immune function.
Reverses heart disease, lowers blood pressure and risk of stroke
Here is an article from the American Heart Association. Meditation makes you happier and smarter.
Another article from Psychology Today. Super awesome article about happiness from a Harvard researcher.