Allow me to introduce you to an ancient practice that has shown tremendous transformations. Meditation.
So what is meditation and why is it known to change people’s lives for the better?
This is something that has been part of my life for over 2 decades and it has built a calm resilience in me that allows me to live each day with greatfulness. With consistency, it can improve your chances of success and change your whole life completely.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Well, meditation is a practice that is done by you, the individual, and it trains the mind to induce an altered state of consciousness. You are fully awake, but your mind travels elsewhere, into your unconscious.
There are many techniques for meditation like practices that specifically target certain areas such as promoting relaxation, developing self awareness, reducing stress and anxiety, igniting creativity etc.
Meditation exercises the mind.
As a Personal Trainer I always tell people that they must exercise their body to keep it healthy and fit. Meditation does just that, for your mind! By practicing self-awareness (meditation), you are constantly improving and keeping your psychological wellbeing fit and healthy.
A Brief History of Meditation
Meditation is intimately associated with spiritual and religious contexts. Many ancient civilisations used chants and rhythmic prayers to their gods. The earliest known record of meditation is from Hindu texts 5000 years ago.
The practice of meditation can be seen in all religions–from Judaism to Islam to Christianity–it is an essential act of getting in touch with your spiritual being.
Prayer is a form of meditation! I remember when I was a little girl, 3 years old in fact, my mother had cut her finger really badly with a knife and blood was pouring out, it was a non stop, stream of blood and we both began to panic. As a small child I didn’t know how to deal with the panic and stress of this situation, but instinctively I ran to my room and began praying to make the bleeding stop and make sure my mum would be ok. Once I was done, my panic subsided and I instantly felt a sense of calm as I walked up to my mum and asked her if she was OK. She replied with “Yes, all of a sudden it stopped bleeding”. My response was “Mum, I was praying for the bleeding to stop”. She hugged me so tight.
The reason I shared that story was to display the sense of clarity, focus, non- reaction and calm that meditation can bring you.
Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, the many benefits of meditation have been scientifically researched in the Western world. There are many different types of meditation and it is best to do a bit of research to find the type that is best for you to gain the benefits you are looking for.
• Transcendental Meditation is a very simple and effortless practice where you sit on the floor or on a chair upright for about 20 minutes twice a day. It can reduce stress, improve your thinking, help you sleep better, and helps you deal with tense situations more calmly.
• Mindfulness or the Vipassana, is a Buddhist tradition. Sit on a chair in a upright position, close your eyes, and accept any thoughts that come to mind. It allows you to be present in your thoughts, allowing them to freely enter your mind. Mindfulness is also used in psychotherapy wherein you let repressed thoughts and emotions come out of your unconscious. It can be your way of dealing with emotions that you keep bottled up inside of you.
• Visualisation Meditation involves concentration on an image or vision. If you want to achieve something, say for example, a new career. Sit on a chair and visualise yourself actually achieving the image in your head. When you imagine these images, emotions like satisfaction, accomplishment and happiness will be felt – as if you already have your new career. It can promote confidence and optimism.
10 Benefits of Meditation
1 – Meditation gives you added energy, my favourite! Your concentrated breathing and relaxation improves your blood circulation, giving you more energy to be productive and be in a joyous state as you do things.
2 – Meditation relieves overall stress. It can lighten the load of a busy day and relieve your physical and emotional stress through relaxation.
3 – You develop tolerance and emotional maturity. When you are less tense, less stressed, and happier, you become more calm and non reactive in dealing with tense situations.
4 – Meditation can improve your concentration level and clear your mind. When you’ve faced your dark thoughts and/or unnecessary thoughts, your mind is free to accommodate more important matters in your life.
5 – Eliminate blame, anger and fear. We often repress these emotions because they are sometimes too much to bear. When we openly accept them into our thoughts, we let them go and allow them to fade away.
6 – When you let go of fear, blame and anger, when you are happy and improved, it immediately improves your relationships with others.
7 – Lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic pain and improves your immune system. Through relaxation and breathing techniques, meditation can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, making you healthier as well as feeling less pain.
8 – Awaken higher levels of your creativity and potential. By weeding out the negative toxins in your mind, you have more freedom to explore things that will bring you more personal development and improvement.
9 – It provides you with peace of mind and general happiness.
10 – It helps you look young by getting rid of all that stress that can add years to your face and make you ill. You feel energised and rejuvenated, lightening your load and reducing feelings of sadness, hurt and despair.
DID YOU KNOW?
Transcendental Meditation is also the only meditation technique that has had over 600 independent scientific studies carried out that shows how effective and beneficial it is. It is also the technique that Oprah Winfrey practices and all her staff. Also Hugh Jackman, Ellen DeGeneres and David Lynch.
Albert Einstein had daily meditation naps that brought him answers before he even asked the questions.
Undoubtedly, meditation is a practice that brings about massive benefits that can change and improve our lives.
There are many meditation techniques that you can perform, but the main reason for meditation has always been for self-awareness and psychological well-being to help you transform and change your life.
6 Things Meditation Teaches You About Yourself
Only with self-knowledge can you be the best version of you. The more consistent you are in your meditation practice, the more you come to understand about yourself, which is the source of freedom and fulfilment in life.
When you challenge yourself in a safe space, you’re more equipped to face the difficulties in your life. In self-reflection you learn the skills necessary for ultimate strength, happiness, and wellbeing.
1. Being Aware
When you meditate, you become aware of the ‘busyness’ of your thoughts. With a meditation practise, you learn to release those thoughts and continually return to your core, your breathing. With consistent practice this process allows you to be more aware of your thoughts both in and out of meditation. This awareness is the base of your happiness because it’s where you live in the present moment. When your thoughts take you away from the the present moment, meditation helps bring you back to the here and now.
2. Letting Go
You let go of judgment and analysis, which helps you to remain calm, non reactive, alert, and in the now. When you face unexpected thoughts that come up in meditation and let them go, it translates to your conscious world because you become more skilled at dealing with unexpected situations that come up in your life. Meditation helps to limit your quick reactions to everyday circumstances. You learn to observe the flow of your thoughts, pleasant or painful, without getting caught up in them. You will understand that emotions are temporary visitors that we can allow to leave at any point.
3. Kindness and Being Gentle
In your practice you need to be gentle with yourself. If you’re harsh and judgmental every time you have a thought, you’ll lose yourself in criticism and aggravation. Relax and allow the thoughts or distractions to happen and pass-by. By scheduling consistent “me time” for meditation, you mark yourself as important without needing the approval of others. During this time you can let go of the ‘busyness’ in your brain, from your roles and responsibilities and just be with yourself. By taking the time to sit and be with yourself in silence, you practice kindness, compassion, patience, self love and acceptance.
During meditation, you surrender your thoughts with faith and let go of the need to control or make sense of what goes on in your mind. This faith starts to develop in your life as well. You become more comfortable with not understanding certain things or not having all the answers. You allow yourself to be a little more vulnerable to the natural unfolding of life, which makes way for healing. This creates resilience to help you bounce back when challenges in life become overwhelming, and this ultimately helps you to evolve into your best self.
When you let go of your thoughts in meditation, you’re not suppressing them; you’re witnessing them and then letting them go so that you may choose what is most nourishing for you and your practice. You remove obstacles in your meditation, which also helps you to recognise and remove them from your daily life. You’re not running from your thoughts, you’re simple choosing which direction is most wholesome. This has amazing benefits when it comes to making the right choices in your daily life.
In meditation, you focus your awareness where you want it to go and learn to become centred. Outside your practice, you become more skilled at focusing your energy on thoughts and actions that serve you and your purpose. Your inner guidance, that voice inside you strengthens and evolves as you face obstacles, but peace comes from knowing yourself and returning to the present. This is where gratitude lives.
Don’t know where to start with meditation? Lay on your bed, turn off all distractions and Youtube a guided meditation for 15 minutes. Or google a class near you. I like meditating before I wake up, at 3-4pm or just before bed.
Please share your insights with me, I’d love to hear your experiences!