It all started out as a casual suggestion by me to a friend who is suffering dizzy spells when driving. When she visited her doctor, she was told that she might have vertigo. Funnily, she did not suffer these spells when not driving. Now she fears driving. Well, I had a personal theory….could it be a panic attack? Since I have read that meditation helps people relax and destress….I mentioned it & this sparked off a an interesting debate.
Apparently, these friends of mine are not advocates of meditation as they feel as Christians, they do not wish to reach a state where their minds are emptied & hence providing a tempting vessel for evil forces…hmmm….
Well I decided to do some research & you make up your minds on the benefits or non benefits of meditation.
Meditation one of the five principles of Yoga. It involves the art of focusing your mind, restraining your thoughts and looking deep into yourself. Practicing it, is supposed to give you a better understanding of your purpose in life and of the divine as well as providing you with certain physical and mental health benefits.
The aim of meditation
To focus the scattered rays of the mind on a single point so as to lead you to a point of self realization.
How it’s done…..
. Practice in a quiet place.
. Make sure you’re comfortable, from your attire to your position
. Prevent other thoughts from coming into your mind. To do this, you can concentrate on a single focal object such as a candle or something in the room. Some people chant the mantra. Some people focus on the Chakras (the 7 main energy centers in the body. As each Chakra relates to specific spiritual, emotional, psychological and emotional issues, the conscious awareness and the balancing of these energy centers lead to well being. ) In meditation the points of focus are mainly the Anahata Chakra (the heart) and the other is the Ajna (in between the eye brows)
So far so good…..so, we’re not exactly emptying our minds right? We do focus on something……
How it benefits the body ….
Meditation apparently, results in a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers such as –
- decreased heart rate,
- decreased respiration,
- decreased plasma cortisol which is a major stress hormone,
- decreased pulse rate
- increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha which is a brain wave associated with relaxation.
- a decrease in metabolism. Your heart beat reduces, your oxygen consumption drops (up to 20% in some cases) and as such, this helps lower your blood pressure.
How it benefits the mind…
One goes through a state of deep relaxation during meditation, while the mind’s awareness level is increased. This results in faster reactions, greater creativity and broader comprehension. And because meditation requires discipline, determination and patience, it helps with the development of your mental health.
Types of Meditation
Well, the common layman’s perception of meditation brings about images of people sitting cross legged, ‘omming’ away’ the whole afternoon..but really there are 4 different Types of Meditation.
- Concentration Technique… which is the basic emptying of the mind by focusing on a single object
- Insight Meditation … this is going one step further the basic, i.e. learning to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions and sensory perception. Here you learn to observe your surroundings, take it all in without ‘undergoing’ it.
- Contemplation & Self Research…to focus on widening our perspective and to learn to understand the nature of our problems and the workings of the mind.
- Meditation in Motion. Now….I find this 4th category interesting…did you know that Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Chi Neng and even walking can be forms of meditation…..Generally this type of meditation entails strengthening our attention and our awareness by focussing on our motions.
OK, besides viewing my jogs & walks (or should I say meditations in motion) during the evenings in a different light now ….. I figure meditation does have physical and mental benefits. Given that its aim is to promote a deep sense of relaxation or a deep concentration by focusing your thoughts on a motion or even an object, I guess it gives your mind a break from the daily stresses of life. There will of course be some who will see it as a means to achieve spiritual transcendence but hey, they’re entitled to their beliefs. But for those who are dead against meditation for religious purposes, …… it might perhaps be a little misunderstood…?
Let’s assume we take a walk or a jog in the park. We focus on nothing but our motions. We take our mind off things for an hour or so. We become relaxed and our body is exercising away…. technically we’re meditating, no?
OK then, anyone game for some “meditation in motion” this evening…..(weather permitting of course)…?