Meditation is about getting a healthy sense of perspective, a process of training your mind in awareness. Oftentimes, many people benefit the practice of meditation as a psychotherapeutic technique for depression, anxiety, stress and trauma. It can, however, develop other beneficial habits and feelings such as a positive mood and outlook, healthy sleep patterns and enhancement on brain performance, self-esteem and emotional intelligence.
Within a scientific view, meditation practices are typically grouped into two main categories, described as focused attention (FA) and open monitoring meditation (OM). FA practices are meant to develop mental stability by systematically training selective attention like focusing on one thing at once and paying attention over extended periods of time.
A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison proved that open monitoring meditation like Vipassana diminishes the grey-matter density in areas of brain related with anxiety and stress. The practice of OM involves non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment-to-moment, thus enabling one to recognise the nature of cognitive and emotional patterns.
Another enthralling finding is that there has been increased interest in the relationships between religiosity, meditation practice and wellbeing, researchers report. Truth be told, religiosity is associated with a specific religion and its dogmas, beliefs and rituals. Although further studies are required to signify how religious components and distinct meditation practices could influence different positive and negative psychological adjustment outcomes, some argue that religious beliefs and practices could benefit mental health by providing a sense of meaning and purpose.
But, is it really necessary to be religious to meditate? There are some others who consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious – those who transcend meanings and beliefs that are relatively free of the rules associated with religion.
The fact that is, of course, one does not have to be religious to meditate. The best meditation of all is the one you will do. In general, the practice of meditation is often associated with yoga, for it has made an important practice tool of boosting mental and physical health. As a practitioner myself, I also do other meditation-like activities which allow me to focus on one thing at once and pay attention over extended periods of time.
How to get started?
Walking meditation is believed to offer many possible benefits and may help you to feel more grounded, balanced and serene. It also calms your mind when you focus on your strides and movement of taking steps instead of, say, focusing on your breath. You can try to walk in a labyrinth, a straight line or in a circle back and forth over a longer distance. There are tons of books and audio visuals that can help you break down detailed techniques of walking meditation. Example of walking meditation include Kinhin, Theravada and Vipassana.
Listening mindfully to music can be an alternative too. Music without lyrics particularly produces the same impacts of meditation by allowing you transported by the sounds, thus keeping you from buzzing mind and extraneous thoughts. My favourite includes psychedelic music, electronic dance music and jazzy blues, all in slowdown tempo with ambient and smooth rhythms.
If you are into martial arts, Karate Kata is a very good choice! Kata itself means peace and tranquil. Arguably the most widely practiced set in the world of Karate, Kata allows you for profound meditative focus. It doesn’t only develop proper body mechanism and mindfulness but also helps build muscle memory and favour the adequate execution of breathing. I was Karateka myself, and this can’t be no more true!
Those are just a few examples. You can find out a lot more, and there’s a kind of meditation that works well with your needs, tastes and general outlook. Happy meditating!