Meditation! Have you ever thought of trying meditation? If you are already practicing, that’s great! You already know all the good effects of meditation, and it’s a no secret. But those who have never tried meditation before and think of giving it a try but hardly find the time, or hesitate begin because you think it’s hard to close your eyes and sit still for long periods or find it difficult to keep the mind from wandering. Here’s the truth, meditation takes time to perfect, however, it’s the easiest and most available tool on the planet for personal development. Think of meditation as a way to strengthen your mind just like going to a gym to build your physical stamina. Strengthening your mind through meditation has positive outcomes on every aspect of your life be it your mental and emotional health, your physical health, your relationships, your work productivity, your discipline, and your overall happiness.

Moreover, there are dozens of meditation styles and techniques, each of them simply different from the other. It can involve focusing on breathing, mantras, meditation with yoga, chanting words, rituals and more. The world (of mediation) is your oyster! Let’s find out more about meditation.

What is Meditation

Meditation, in simple terms, is a means of transforming the mind. It is a form of mental exercise where an individual can train his mind to focus, relax and create self-awareness. Meditation is not necessarily spiritual or religious, although it shares a long history with religion and offers important spiritual content for practitioners. Meditation is hard work and it takes time to master just like any other skill. The more you practice it the easier it becomes to stay focused.

The Origin of Meditation

Meditation is a really old and broad form of art. And, it started to become mainstream only around the 20th century and got developed in different parts of the world.

Meditation is said to have originated in ancient India and the oldest written records can be found in the old texts - Vedas dating 1500 BCE. During that time, meditation was a practice for religious people and wandering ascetics who sought to connect with divine universal forces and transcendental reality.

Later in the 6th century, Lord Buddha’s enlightenment and over the next several centuries, the spread of Buddhism led to their own approaches to meditation. Some of the popular Buddhist meditation techniques include Vipassana, Loving-Kindness, Mindfulness, which have grown to be highly popular in the West.

Besides, there are other forms of meditation around the world although they might not be as popular as Buddhist and Yogic traditions and are limited to their regions. Among them are Jain meditation (India), Chinese meditation, Christian meditation, Sufi meditation, Jewish meditation among others.

The Science Behind Meditation

Meditation leads to an overall improvement in our physical and mental condition. Buddhist and Hindu monks have been meditating for thousands of years. And the positive effects are not unfamiliar. And in today’s world, technological advances have paved the way for science to observe how meditation strengthens the brain. Researchers have shown that meditation causes the brain to go through physical changes, which are largely beneficial. It has the potential for more than just stress relief.

Types of Meditation

Do you know there are hundreds of types of meditation? Some will work for you better than the others, just like different diets. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to meditation, you have to find the right type for you, and practice with the right approach. And the only way to find out which works the best for you is to try them.

There are meditation types that have several subtypes as well. Let's focus on two popular types of meditation practices - the Hindu and Buddhist meditation traditions.

Hindu Meditation Techniques (Vedic and Yogic)

  • Mantra Meditation (Om Meditation)
  • Transcendental Meditation (TM)
  • Yogic Meditation
  • Self-Inquiry and “I Am” Meditation

Buddhist Meditation Techniques

  • Zen Meditation (Zazen)
  • Vipassana Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta Meditation)

Benefits of Meditation

There are dozens of meditation benefits . From health gains to psychological benefits, meditation yields a surprising number of health benefits. A practice of 20 minutes a day is all that is required to experience significant improvement. Find out some of the significant health

benefits of meditating.

  • Meditation reduces stress: We all have stress in life. Stress disrupts our sleep, loss of appetite, promotes depression and anxiety, increases blood pressure and clouds our thinking ability. Stress reduction is one of the primary reasons why people try meditation. It lives up to its expectation, and rightfully so!
  • Enhances self-awareness: Meditation benefits also include its power to help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself that eventually leads to the growth of your best self. As you gain greater awareness of self, you can steer toward positive changes in life.
  • Promotes emotional health: Those who meditate experience a measurable change in areas related to positive thinking and optimism. Meditation leads to an improved self-image and a more positive outlook in life.
  • Higher work efficiency: Studies have shown that meditation reduces stress levels helps better decision making. This in turn can lead to higher productivity at work.
  • Improves sleep quality: There are different meditation techniques that can help relax your mind and control the racing thoughts that can interfere with your sleep. Also, it can relax your body, releasing tension and make you fall asleep peacefully in less time.
  • May help fight addictions: One of the many benefits of meditation is that it develops mental discipline and willpower which can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses.
  • Generate positive feelings and develop kindness: Meditation techniques like Metta or Loving-kindness meditation can help generate positive feelings. First it helps develop positivity toward yourself and then increases positivity, empathy and compassion towards others.
  • Increase attention span: Meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention. Even meditating for a short period of time may have a positive effect on you.
  • Healthy and glowing skin: Taking up meditation regularly helps keep the hormone levels well-balanced and cuts down the daily stress. This directly leads to beautiful and radiant skin.
  • Normalizes blood pressure: Another important benefit of meditation is that it can reduce blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function and tension in blood vessels. Additionally, it reduces conditions such as heart disease, artery damage, kidney failure, etc.
  • Improves relationships: Meditation has also proved to bring significant improvement in not personal as well as professional relationships. People who practice techniques like transcendental meditation have significantly better and healthy relationships both at home and work environments.

Having understood about the benefits of meditation , it’s also imperative to know that the experience of meditation may depend and differ from case to case. You must be willing to experiment with different methods and stick with it to discover a meditation style that suits you best.

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