Margi Matters Brisbane Psychologist replies to Sara age 27.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice of essentially calming the mind. With regular practice over time, meditation provides a means of transforming the mind and how we relate to the mind and its’ impact in our daily lives.
There are many ways to practice meditation although they all have in common a regular practice that aims to direct the attention inwards away from the distractions of the external world and the concerns and constant chatter of the mind.
Directing attention is achieved by utilising focused states such as placing your attention on a particular sound or ‘mantra’ for example. This sound or mantra could be a single word or phrase. “Om” is one sound commonly associated with meditation which many people will recognise.
Transcendental Meditation was popularised in the early 1970’s and involved silently repeating a specific sound selected uniquely for each person. Practitioners were encouraged to sit and practice for twenty minutes twice a day. You could use an object such as a candle flame or a tree as the focus for your attention, just noticing the colour or shape or pattern without active mental processing. This focus on a single object, word or sound or even on the breath, interrupts the busyness of constant thoughts and mental chatter.
Mindfulness meditation has become very popular in recent years and offers a way to keep awareness on the present moment and the present activity or sensation whether that activity is gardening or washing dishes or some other daily activity. Thought processes are suspended. It is a practice of gently bringing the awareness back to the present moment when you notice your attention has drifted. Distractions that capture our attention include making judgements, getting caught up in those continual mental conversations and worries, or random thoughts about the past, the future and various concerns.
Other practices teach contemplation to better understand your mental habits and processes or they simply aim to observe the flow of thoughts, feelings and mental content. Still other practices involve activity or being in silent retreat for a number of days.
The Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of daily meditation practice are well documented and vastly beneficial in a multitude of ways from improved mood and enjoyment of life to reduced blood pressure. It is the single most beneficial activity to include in your day.
Meditation is a powerfully effective way to reduce stress, anxiety and emotional turmoil. Long term meditators enjoy much more peaceful, calm yet energized ways of being. Developing these more positive and peaceful states of mind produce clarity and noticeable improvements in mood and your sense of coping and well being. Research studies indicate that regular meditation decreases depression and the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it can also assist to lower blood pressure. There are many more benefits you can research.
You can begin to experience benefits physically and mentally with as little as ten minutes meditation each day.
Deciding to practise meditation regularly is one of the most beneficial ways to improve your quality of life and well being.
You can read here about a simple technique to begin meditating.