The roots of meditation have spread far beyond their origins in ancient India. Wildly popular worldwide, meditation holds the key to balancing the mind, body, and spirit and tremendously increases mental and physical well-being. While there are some that believe meditation could possibly date back as far as the Neanderthals, there are others that assume the practice goes back to 1500 BC, where meditation and its ability to help one live a satisfying life is referred to in the Rig Veda, the oldest known script of the ancient Vedic texts.
No matter how long meditation’s been practiced, one thing’s for certain. It’s amazing for encouraging peace of mind. It’s endured for thousands of years, is still practiced by millions amongst the world’s oldest and largest religions, and has done an amazing job at infiltrating into Western culture. There’s no doubt this is all because of the vast capacity meditation holds to bring calm, balance, and peace of mind to an often crazy, stressful reality.
The Purpose of Meditation
The purpose of meditation is primarily to bring us back to peace. It’s easy to forget who we really are when we’re faced with the constant demands of our modern realities. Meditation is used to bring calm, and silence the incessant thoughts that tend to run rampant through our minds. It helps us shed stress and become more aware of the present moment, rather than living the past or worrying about the future.
The Benefits of Meditation
There’s a reason meditation made its way west and has become an integral part of our modern culture. When practiced regularly, it is seriously remarkable at contributing to an overall sense of peace and well-being…something we could all use a little more of with the stress and pressure of our seriously stressful lives. Restoring both mental and physical balance, meditation is just what we need to reconnect to ourselves, our surroundings, and the natural rhythm of life.
Following are just some of the many mind/body benefits of a regular meditation practice:
Mental Benefits of Meditation
- Decreases Anxiety
- Enhances Sense of Peace and Well-Being
- Reduces Stress Levels
- Increases Happiness
- Heightens Clarity
- Improves Mental Focus
Physical Benefits of Meditation
- Improves Immune Function
- Decreases Tension
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Helps with Headaches
- Reduces Insomnia
Different Types of Meditation
If you’re new to meditation understanding the many different techniques and figuring out what’s best for you can become really overwhelming! How do you know what style is right for you personally? Meditation isn’t just siting and breathing. It’s a way to connect with your highest self. And just as we are all uniquely individual yet so inherently the same, there are a variety of different meditation techniques to help reach this higher state.
Recognizing the basic principles of a few of the most common meditation practices is a good start and will help you find the practice that most resonates with you. All you need is a comfortable place to sit or lay down and an open mind.
Mindful meditation might just be the most popular type of meditation there is. In this common practice you simply stay with your breath while keeping a keen awareness on what is happening around you. Mindful meditation can be practiced while sitting in the traditional cross-legged meditation position, but is also often cultivated into everyday activities. It is becoming aware of what you’re doing at the present moment without any passing judgment. Mindful meditation can be done while doing the dishes, walking, driving, and working. To be mindful is to simply be and breathe.
Mantra meditation uses words or sounds chanted either aloud or silently within the mind. Perhaps the best known mantra meditation comes down to chanting ohm, which is known as the mother “seed” of all other mantras. Ohm is the sound of the universe and thought to be the connection to all that is. Mantras are used to tame the ceaseless thoughts that run through our minds, keeping us centered in our meditation and strong in our focus. They can also be invoked when our thoughts begin to stray from our breath.
Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation
Loving kindness meditation, known as metta bhavana or simply metta, is the practice of developing compassion through meditation. One of the biggest intentions of this meditation is to make you feel good. Loving kindness meditation also helps you to cultivate compassion for others and to open deeper levels of kindness and unconditional self towards ourselves and others. Breath is focused around our heart center and is excellent for removing any negative feelings and emotions we may have.
Not all meditation is practiced in a seated position with your eyes closed. There are different ways to incorporate meditation into movement. The most popular form of moving meditation in our Western culture is undoubtedly yoga, where a focus on the breath is found through sequences of a variety of asanas, or poses. Tai chi is another form of moving meditation that is practiced by hundreds of people worldwide with roots in Chinese culture. There are also countless of athletes who bring a meditative state to whatever activity they’re doing. Golf, surfing, running, and even weightlifting can be thought of as forms of moving meditation.
Meditation is an excellent way to improve your life and offer an enhanced feeling of peace and well-being. A regular practice can literally bring life-changing benefits and is a discipline that when adhered to can guide you to truly live in your own infinite bliss.