‘Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.’
Meditation teaches us to live in the present moment. With the alarming fast pace of life and continuous stimulation we encounter on a daily basis, it is not surprising that the number of people suffering from stress, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic health problems is on the rise. Through Meditation, one is conscious of their breath and its effect on the body and allows them to tap into Prana (universal energy) through various asanas (postures) and Pranayamas (breathing techniques). So, whether you’re practicing Mindfulness Meditation or Pranayama, the benefits are infinite.
When we meditate, our breathing slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels fall. This in turn results in better cognitive function, alleviation of stress and anxiety, improved immunity, among many others.Meditation isn’t about forcing your mind to be quiet, but about experiencing the quiet that is already there. Even when the mind is filled with thoughts, one must be able to reach inner stillness and calm that lies beneath the surface of thought and emotion. The term ‘restful awareness’ captures this combination of physical relaxation and an alert yet quiet mind.
There are various types of Meditation:
A Primordial Sound Meditation (PSM) is a silent practice that uses a mantra that becomes your vibrational sound to the universe. It’s calculated following Vedic mathematic formulas and is central to the meditators being. Repeating or chanting the mantra helps one enter deeper levels of awareness by taking you away from the intellectual side of the brain.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is meditation offered to physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists, as well as other health professionals, to help them build a partnership in care between the patient and the medical team. This technique uses both breath awareness and body scan, where the focus is on the physical body starting at the toes, working your way up until one achieves a release or relaxation of tension.
Zen also referred to as Zazen, means ‘seated meditation’. It comes from Buddhism, which is more of a philosophy than a religion. You acquire insight through observing the breath and the mind, and through interaction with a teacher. Sometimes chanting is involved.
Transcendental Meditation, founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi uses a mantra or series of Sanskrit words to help the practitioner focus during meditation in lieu of just following breath. The mantra varies depending on the student’s birth year, gender and even the year in which the teacher was trained. Transcendental Meditation is a seated meditation.
Vipassana is probabaly the most popular type of meditation today. Vipassana, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for any illness. The technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.
Vipassana is traditionally a 10-day residential course under the guidance of qualified meditation experts. For the duration of the retreat, students remain within the course site, having no contact with the outside world. They refrain from reading and writing, and suspend and follow a demanding daily schedule which includes about ten hours of sitting meditation. They also observe silence, not communicating with fellow students; however, they are free to discuss meditation questions with the teachers.
Meditation through Yoga
Yoga and meditation go hand in hand as spiritual relaxation is possible when both the mind and the body are relaxed. It is in fact one of the most important aspect of yoga as it helps connect the body, mind and spirit. Daily yoga meditation helps in mental purification and offers clarity of thought, boost’s grey matter, helps fight Alzheimer’s, fight colds and flu, depression and anxiety as well as increase concentration and focus.
There are several basic points to be kept in mind when practicing mediation. These include:
- ?Choosing a place and time for meditation.
- Choose a time when your mind is not clouded with thoughts like first thing in the morning
- The right posture, with a straight back, neck and head aligned and facing north or east
- Conditioning the mind to remain calm and quiet duration the session
- Following a rhythmic breathing pattern of deep inhale and exhale
- Holding your object of concentration at this focal point throughout your session.
Meditation happens when you reach that state of pure thought. People who experience Vipassana often find it life-changing, making them happier, calmer and more capable of coping with challenges in life.
Meditation with Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga contains specific, practical tools that carefully and precisely support the mind, and guide the body through the use of breath, mantra, mudra (hand position), and focus.
Yogi Bhajan, the founder has created hundreds of meditations tailored to specific applications. There are meditations that reduce stress, work on addictions, increase vitality, and clear chakras, to name a few. Since these meditations are so specified, working with a teacher is a large part of this tradition.
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