What exactly is meditation and why do I need it in my life?

When looking for a definition for meditation to share for this article, it became clear to me that there are as many definitations for meditation as there are ways to meditate. For a simple platform to begin with, as per Wikipedia, Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.

Why would this be a helpful practice to learn and incorporate into your daily life? I believe that the practice of meditation is as important of a daily activity as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Meditation has many benefits, one of which, it can assist in nurturing a tired soul. We live in a world where we are bombarded with technology and fast paced lifestyles. Busy schedules, juggling family, work, kids, a social life and aging parents in some cases. Our plates are full and our souls are tired. A statistic that cements this for us is that 90% of disease and illness is stress related. Read that again- 90% of disease and illness is stress related. That is a number that I hope stops you in your tracks. Stress is something that we all experience and it cannot be avoided. We can however, control how we allow stress to impact us. We can teach ourselves to operate from a more calm and stable place in our daily lives so that when stressors impact us we are better equipped to work through them. If this article caught your attention and you are still with me, I am willing to bet that what I am saying in some way resonates with you or you are looking for ways to manage your busy life and not let stress take over. Meditation is one tool that can help when learning to take control of stress and how it impacts us. How can something so easily accessible and simple to implement be so beneficial?

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits that science is beginning to acknowledge when using meditation as a daily tool. According to the many benefits of meditation include; reduced stress and anxiety, improved self-awareness and emotional health as well as assisting with attention span and memory loss and improving sleep, decreasing pain, fighting addictions and lowering blood pressure and you can practice this anywhere.

How do you know where to begin and what could be the best fit for you? Here are many of the different types of meditation and a short explanation of each.

Mindfulness meditation- Bring awareness to thoughts in the mind and allow them to pass through without judgment. Begin to be the observer of your thoughts.

Focused meditation- You can focus on your breath, a candle, sound or something in nature.

Movement meditation- this can be a mindful walk in the woods, yoga, breath and movement connection, Qi-gong, even gardening.

Mantra meditation-this can be the repetition of a word, a phrase or a sound over and over for a duration of time.

Loving kindness meditation- this practice involves opening the mind to receive love from others and then sending a series of well wishes to loved ones, friends, acquaintances, and all living beings.

Progressive relaxation-The often involve a body scan and focusing on tightening and releasing muscles throughout the body.

Transcendental meditation-This type of meditation may require a teacher as it focuses on a mantra or sound with specific meaning.

Guided meditation- this is simply following the guidance of a teacher leading you into a more relaxed state.

There is something that all of these examples of meditation have in common and that is the attempt to offer the mind a chance to relax and experience calmness. Many of the types of meditation that can be practiced suggest closing the eyes. We close our eyes in an attempt to connect deeper within to ourselves. Just closing the eyes, gives us an opportunity to slow down and turn our awareness towards ourselves and not the outside world. Maintaining that awareness and focusing on the breath, following both the inhale and the exhale and starting to slow the breath down and finding a rhythm can allow you the first glimpses of beginning a meditation practice. These can be the first simple steps for you to begin to release your grip of stress in your life.

I encourage you to explore the opportunity to create a new routine, be committed to a daily exploration of meditation and see how carving out time each day can create space to dissolve the excess stressors in your life or just give you the ability to deal with them differently. In the coming weeks, please consider subscribing to my FB page or website to get more information on how to explore different types of meditation as well as join our community and be supported by this journey that we can all embark on together.

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