Meditation. Check this image out. This is what a lot of people think of when they think of meditation. They think it is sitting for hours cross legged in the middle of nowhere chanting or just repeating the “om” sound. How strange does that seem? You wouldn’t be caught doing that any time soon. It’s true people meditating have been known to do this… but why? I’ll look in to the meditation above later.
There are benefits to meditation and these have been studied many times.
Stress – meditation has proven medical benefits in regards to the reduction of stress. The most recognised form of meditation for stress and anxiety reduction is mindfulness. You can read more about this in my previous post. Mindfulness is basically separating yourself from your current situation and being aware of what is actually happening not imagining all the different ways that could happen.
Pain – meditation has been shown to help people relieve pain in their bodies without the use of painkillers. They use meditation to force their muscles to relax and imagine the pain leaving their bodies. I actually have experience of this. I was very stressed for a long time and my muscles had stopped being able to relax and then this caused great stress on my joints and on the muscles themselves, this lead to damage and pain. I went to the doctors and they referred me to physiotherapy and this is when they noticed the problem. I thought I was fine, I never thought there was any problem mentally but there was. I was told to combine my physiotherapy with relaxation techniques like meditation. They would help with the physical damage but I had to stop them being tense all the time.
Weight – people who practise meditation and focus on losing weight and continue to be mindful throughout their day lose weight, and guess what they lose weight. Just think about it. Are there times when you are full near the end of a meal and think you must finish it? Are there times when you start eating, say, a pack of sweets/ crisps/biscuits with the intent of eating one or two and next thing you know you have finished the lot? The problem is literally in your head. You may have been told to “finish your dinner or you can’t…” or told that “don’t leave the table until everything is gone from your plate”. Now you are older you still feel that you NEED to finish. You need to focus on how full you are rather that how much food you need to finish. When you are eating be aware of how much you have eaten and stop after your one or two and put the rest away.
Success – use meditation to focus on your goals, visualise how things will go and recognise how far you have already gone.
So what is meditation?
Meditation is a practise that has been around since ancient times. It is not just for monks in places like Tibet. Meditation is defined as many things the most useless one I found defined it simply as “A time of meditating” and then went on to give me a list of other words like it. Others are just confusing. My favourite (simple) definition is that meditation is a practise where the individual trains their mind to realise some benefit or to be aware of a situation and acknowledge what is happening without being involved in it or just as a benefit in itself. This combines what I think are the three types of meditation, mindfulness, relaxation and visualising.
Mindfulness – being aware of things in and around yourself, acknowledging and dealing with them.
Relaxation – letting stresses go and forcing muscles to relax
Visualising – imagining yourself in a different situation.
How do you meditate?
This is a topic that could take years to research. The most basic form and the simplest to do is mindfulness. You can find countless colouring books out there that claim to help with this. In many cases this is true if you do it right. You can find out more in my previous post but you can use them to separate yourself from your current situation and focus on something else.
Many people say that the best thing you can so first is find somewhere with little or no distractions first. You may have found this out already when on a night out. If you go into a pub with a TV on, even if it is turned off, you can’t help but to look at it. Or when you are talking and one of your party receives a text/tweet/Facebook notification and they’re gone (checking out what it says, thinking about what to do about it or literally walking away to check it because their signal is poor). Then your conversation is ruined. So distractions are bad. Once you have a distraction free space get comfortable. You can sit in a good chair with your feet up, lie down or sit on the floor, it’s up to you. Then relax and take some deep breaths, concentrate on your breathing. During this time you may notice thoughts creeping in to your head. This is the hard bit, not concentrating on them. Like the TV in the pub all you have to do is acknowledge them and then get back to what you were doing. If there is a lot going on in your life you may really want to sort them out now don’t. Meditation helps you look at things like your the outsider, you just need to understand what has happened and what is happening now without judgement or preconceived ideas. Then write down what you found out, what ideas did you have about what to do next? There are lots of guided meditations out there to help you if/when you want to give it a try.
In regards to the man in the picture at the top, you should by now understand it more. He has found himself a place with no distractions, some find it easier if they are somewhere natural outside. The waterfall may be beneficial to drown out any other sounds that may distract you too. Others find it just as easy sitting down in a noisy area too and just “zoning out” of their surroundings and are able to focus anywhere. It is also possible to meditate while walking around. If you have ever found yourself walking around, say walking to work or walking the dog and then started to just started relaxing You may find that your mind starts to wander and you think about all sorts of things and daydream. Sometimes you zone out and then realise you have walked quite a long way. This “zoning out” is meditation, you can get yourself into this state be just letting yourself relax and just looking at things and now judging them or concentrating on your breathing or even listening to some relaxing music or even some meditation music to help. Please don’t try this in any dangerous situations. The man in the picture is a buddhist and is meditating according to his religion/ beliefs. What makes you calm? What do you believe in? Whatever is part of your life that you are sure is a good start should be your base. Quite often this may be your faith, your family, your friends even yourself, start wherever you are happiest and most relaxed and go from there. He is outside, you can meditate inside but health experts will agree that natural light and clean air are better for you so if you can find a place like this ( even if it is your garden, balcony or even a rooftop ) do it. Be aware that this is safer in the morning or early evening due to UV and sunburn so be careful with this too. His position looks shaded, cool and in nature, great choice.
So get out there and try it, chances are you already have but didn’t realise you were doing it.
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