Below is an extended version of a meditation article on Examiner.com.
Yoga is a simple word that can mean different things to different people and practiced in a myriad of ways. With so many different styles of yoga available, a little time spent researching would help the new yoga student match what they’re seeking to what that style of yoga offers.
The same can be said for meditation. You might not be aware that May is Meditation Month. If you haven’t tried meditation this is a great time to start! The goal of meditation is to quiet the incessant, monkey chatter of the mind. There are multiple reasons to meditate. Project-Meditation discusses the benefits of meditation
Included, but not limited to, in the list are:
Reduces anxiety attacks as it lowers the levels of blood lactate.
Builds self confidence.
Increases serotonin which influences moods and behavior. Low levels of serotonin
are associated with depression, headaches and insomnia.
Enhances energy, strength and vigor.
Helps keep blood pressure normal
Reduces stress and tension
Creates a state of deep relaxation and general feeling of well-being
Increases concentration and strengthens the mind
Helps reduce heart disease
Additionally, recent research has revealed how meditation affects the brain’s neuroplasticity. In essence, neuroplasticity describes the changes the brain undergoes in response to experience. Research suggests meditation increases the ‘foldability’ in the cerebral cortex of the brain. The technical term is gyrification. Functions the cerebral cortex performs include memory, attention, thought and consciousness. It is thought increased surface area in the cerebral cortex created with the formation of folds may improve neural transmission and increase the efficiency of the cerebral cortex. A stunning correlation was revealed: The amount of gyrification was proportional to the number of years of meditation. It appears, then, that an adult brain isn’t a piece of unchanging matter…it can adapt and develop. Kind of proves the old adage: “You can’t teach an old (down) dog new tricks” wrong!
Experiencing any one of these benefits would motivate a person to meditate. It just makes health-and-wellness sense doesn’t it?
There are different types of meditation. Basic meditation categories include (examples in parentheses):
Mindfulness: Breath-focused (Kundalini meditation incorporates breath awareness
moving upward through each energy center)
Mantra : Repeating a single word or phrase/prayer (Transcendental Meditation would
Spiritual: Especially appropriate for those with a strong prayer life
Sense-centric: Narrowing sensory input, focusing on one sense’s area
(Heart Rhythm Meditation focuses on the breath and the beat
of your heart)
Visualizations: Envisioning an object or imagining a new setting for oneself
(Recorded guided meditations)
Moving meditation: Concentration on the process of moving (Qi Gong uses the breath
to circulate energy—or the life force—through the organs
and energy centers)
Meditation is a topic being studied by researchers and discussed in various media. However, just as all styles of yoga may not be appropriate for every individual; every form of meditation might not work for everyone. What Type of Meditation is Best for You provides insightful questions to answer when considering meditation. Ask yourself:
What is your reason for meditating? Do you seek to deal with stress or chronic pain? To become more attuned to life’s spiritual essence? To become more aware of others and the needs of society? To enter an altered state of consciousness? To become more deeply conscious of the natural world? To enhance your creative abilities? Specific forms of meditation will lead you to each of those goals.
Do you practice a specific religion? Does that religion discourage you from exploring other spiritual paths? Or, if you are not a member of a religion at this time, does religious imagery get in the way of your accepting a teaching? Depending on your relationship to organized religion, you will find some meditative practices more suitable than others.
Can you meditate daily? While this is ideal, there are some forms of meditation that can be practiced less frequently.
Can you meditate alone? Can you meditate with others? Depending on your level of self-discipline and distractibility, different forms of meditation will present themselves as suitable.
Do you have physical limitations? Even meditative styles that require movement can usually be adapted for those with limited mobility.
Do you have an emotional or mental disorder? Most meditative styles enhance, rather than detract from, the lives of those with mental or emotional disorders. However, certain techniques can be difficult for such individuals.
Meditation doesn’t require much, but you do have to commit time to it if you’d like that serene look to come over your face too! To begin:
1. Find a quiet place free of distractions. This is important. If there’s a lot of noise
and commotion you’re setting yourself up to fail. Even with a quiet setting,
quieting your mind is challenging; in a busy setting it’ll be impossible!
2. Sit comfortably. Sitting comfortably is also important and the genesis of asana
practice. The ancient yogis realized if the body wasn’t at ease the mind
wouldn’t be either.
3. Start slowly. The length of time doesn’t really matter in the beginning, it’s more
important to get into the routine of meditating. You might want to start 2-3x/week.
Commit two months’ time. Meditating initially for 1-2 minutes gradually will
lengthen. In addition to lengthening time meditating, you might want to add a
second session to your meditating days. There are no hard-fast rules—you don’t
have to meditate for half an hour twice daily, every day of the week. Find a
frequency/length that works for you.
Yoga improves body, mind and spirit…adding meditation enhances this!
Health, Wellness & CURES!!