Meditation is a practice of concentrating one’s focus upon an object, sound, visualization, breath, or attention in order to reduce stress, relax the body and the mind, increase awareness of the present moment and inculcate spiritual growth. Meditation helps the body and mind go into a deep state of relaxation and tranquility.
Meditation has been practiced for a long long time. It is commonly practiced for relaxation and stress reduction. It helps stressed persons restore their calm and inner peace.
Anyone anywhere can practice meditation as it does not require any special equipment, nor is meditation limited to a space. One can practice meditation whether at home, while at the office, when waiting at a doctor’s clinic or even while riding back home in a bus.
Types of Meditation:-
Meditation is a generalized term for various ways to relax one’s state of mind. There are various types of meditation all of which share a common goal of achieving inner peace.
Few types of Meditation techniques are mentioned below:
* Guided meditation:- This type of meditation is also called as guided imagery or guided visualization. In this form of meditation, a person focuses his attention to form mental images of places/situation etc. that he associates with relaxation. A guide or a teacher usually leads the meditation session.
* Mindfulness Meditation:- In this type of meditation, a person is not concentrated to focusing on one single subject, rather the person is aware of all thoughts, sounds, images or feelings that pass through the mind.
* Mantra Meditation:– In this type of meditation a person silently repeats/chants mantras (a mantra could be anything from a word, thought or a phrase repeated in a pattern) that help a person in relaxing.
* Qi Gong (spelt as CHEE-gung):- It is a traditional Chinese medicine where meditation is combined with relaxation, physical movements, breathing exercises etc. to restore good health.
* Tai chi (spelt as TIE-CHEE):- Is a Chinese martial arts practice where a person performs various body movements and postures in a sequential order while practicing deep breathing and meditation.
* Yoga:– Yoga includes a series of breathing exercises and body postures that help in promoting flexibility in the body along with tranquil mind.
How to Meditate:-
Different types of meditation may require different techniques but there are a few common features across various types of meditation that include:
* Focused Attention:– Focused attention is a prerequisite for meditation as a person is required to channelize all his attention either to a specific object, Image, sound, music, mantra or for that matter even his breath. Focused attention helps in keeping the mind free from any distractions and channelizing thoughts in one direction.
* Deep and relaxed breathing:– This technique involves deep and equal paced breathing through the nostrils. The objective is to take in as much oxygen into the lungs using the diaphragm muscles (a dome shaped muscle that separates the respiratory system from the abdomen) to expand and contract the lungs. Care should be taken that the shoulder neck and chest muscles remain constant.
* Quiet Surroundings:– A quiet surrounding may be required for beginners as any distraction or noise in and around may reduce the focus. As a person gets more and more skilled at meditation, surroundings may not make much of a difference
* Comfortable position:– Meditation may be practiced while sitting, lying down, standing or even while performing any activity but meditating in a comfortable position helps the person to make the most out of it.
-:Benefits of Meditation:-
Various studies  have confirmed that meditation may help in reducing high blood pressure.
Meditation is also useful in combating irritable bowel syndrome (an intestinal disorder that causes pain, gases, constipation or diarrhea).
Studies also suggest that meditation helps in reducing ulcerative colitis(a chronic condition that causes ulcerations and inflammation in the digestive tract of a person).
Meditation also helps in limiting depression and reduces anxiety.
Meditation helps in reducing the craving for smoking as it reduces activity in the part of the brain responsible for craving.
Meditation is found to be helpful in aiding in sleep in people suffering from insomnia.
Breathing meditation techniques have been found to help in reducing asthmatic attacks in persons with Bronchial Asthma.
Apart from the above, Meditation also helps in:
Increasing one’s self-awareness
Aiding in stress management
Reducing various negative emotions
Being more focused and systematic
While meditation in general is highly beneficial to the body and the mind, however, it must not be substituted with any treatment etc. that have been prescribed by the healthcare provider.