4

What is Meditation?

Last Updated: November 14, 2023

Featured Image

Table of Contents

Have you ever experienced feelings of anxiety, stress, and tension? You're not alone. Many people encounter these challenges. 

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice with a long history of promoting calmness, physical relaxation, psychological balance, and overall well-being, and can offer relief. 

Meditation is a mental practice that involves focusing your attention and eliminating the thoughts that may be crowding your mind. It encourages relaxation, mindfulness, and self-awareness, allowing individuals to attain a state of inner calm and mental clarity.

Meditation is highly accessible, allowing you to practice it anywhere and anytime.

The Benefits of Meditation

Scientific research suggests that there are extensive health benefits of meditation, both physical and mental benefits.

Physical Benefits

Regular meditation practice can result in many physical benefits, including:

  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Improves sleep quality and treats chronic insomnia
  • Decrease symptoms of chronic pain
  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved immune system function

Mental Benefits

Many people practice meditation to achieve mental benefits, including:

  • Stress reduction
  • Improves anxiety disorders
  • Supports acceptance of difficult emotions
  • Conscious awareness
  • Inner peace

Alternative Treatments

Meditation can be considered part of complementary and integrative health care as people often use meditation as an alternative medicine for certain mental and physical health conditions. 

For example, meditation techniques have been used with cancer patients to help manage stress, alleviate treatment-related symptoms, and enhance their overall quality of life. 

Additionally, meditation is being integrated into healthcare settings to address various mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, offering a holistic approach to well-being.

How to Meditate

There are many meditation practices, but in the simplest form, one can meditate by finding a quiet space, focusing on your breath, and gently redirecting your attention when your mind wanders.

Here are six basic steps you can take to prepare for mindfulness meditation:

  1. Find a quiet space.
  2. Get comfortable in a comfortable position, either on the floor or on a chair.
  3. Set a timer or consider using a guided meditation.
  4. Begin to practice deep breathing. Take a few deep breaths until you get into a rhythm, and continue.
  5. Notice thoughts as they come and let them float away. When your mind wanders, bring your focused attention back to your breath.

Although meditation will not always come easy, you will see quick progress if you begin practicing for just a few minutes daily. 

You can carry the concept of mindfulness as a relaxation tool to help center your mind. When stressed, take a few moments to reflect and take a deep breath, ultimately reducing psychological stress. Although simple, these meditation techniques can go a long way.

Meditation centers offer guided mindfulness meditation training for those who prefer to learn from experienced coaches, commonly called mindfulness meditation programs.

There is also an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course, which is presently one of the most popular introductions to mindfulness meditation.

“Mediation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity” – Baba Ram Dass

Types of Meditation

There are numerous types of mindfulness meditation practices, and it is essential to find one that you enjoy. 

Here are some meditative practices that are beneficial for physical and mental ease while supporting spiritual growth:

Transcendental Meditation 

During transcendental meditation, you silently repeat a mantra, such as a word, sound, or phrase, in a specific way. 

Transcendental meditation allows your body to settle into profound rest and relaxation, allowing your mind to achieve inner peace without needing concentration or effort.

Loving-Kindness Meditation 

Loving-kindness meditation is a powerful self-care meditation practice that has the practitioner mentally send goodwill and kindness to themselves and their loved ones through the silent repetition of mantras.

Body Scan Meditation 

Body scan meditation is a simple practice that guides you to focus on each body part and the sensations that arise. 

You will practice it in a systemic sequence from feet to head. Body scan meditation brings self-awareness to each body part and exposes pains, tension, and other lingering feelings.

Mantra Meditation 

In Mantra meditation practice, the practitioner sits silently and repeats a calming word, thought, or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. 

This style of meditation is prominent in religious traditions, including Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Visualization Meditation 

During visualization meditation, you will focus on something visual, hold it in your mind, and imagine the outcome of this becoming your reality. 

This mindfulness practice promotes a deep sense of relaxation and helps you harness the power of your mind to manifest positive changes in your life.

Guided Meditation 

This introductory meditation helps create a foundation for beginners. A guide, teacher, or recording will lead you through the meditative practice.

Guided meditation and mindfulness training often direct you to form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. 

Walking Meditation 

Walking meditation involves drawing your attention inward as your body moves and your mind wanders. 

Walking meditation improves awareness of surroundings, helps one stay in the present moment, and can reduce stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Stay Consistent with My Meditation Practice?

Maintaining a consistent meditation practice involves setting achievable goals, finding a quiet space, and incorporating meditation into your daily routine at a convenient time. 

Using alarms or meditation apps as reminders can help with forming a habit of practicing meditation.

It is also essential to accept that there may be times when you lose consistency with meditation practice, which is entirely normal. 

Consider joining a meditation group for motivation and keep a journal to track your progress. The key is to integrate mindfulness into your daily life and build a habit that suits your lifestyle.

How Many Types of Meditation Practices Are There?

There is a wide variety of formal meditation practices, each with its own focus and techniques. Some common types include: 

  • Mindfulness meditation: which centers on present-moment awareness 
  • Transcendental meditation: involving silently repeated mantras
  • Loving-kindness meditation: promoting feelings of compassion and love
  • Guided meditation: where an instructor leads you through a specific visualization or relaxation process. 

Other practices include Zen meditation, Vipassana, and Yoga Nidra. The diverse range of meditation styles allows individuals to choose one that aligns with their goals, preferences, and experiences.

Are there any Risks to Practicing Meditation?

Meditation is generally safe, but there are potential risks. 

Meditation may unearth underlying emotional issues or discomfort for some, especially those with trauma or mental health concerns. 

Overexertion during meditation practice can also lead to physical discomfort. It's advisable to consult a health professional before starting meditation practices.

References

Less stress, clearer thoughts with mindfulness meditation – Harvard Gazette

The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation

Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for a generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity

Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress

Disclaimer

The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.

Best Time to Meditate

10 min read

Best Time to Meditate

Learn how to fit meditation into your daily routine! Discover which meditation times work best for you and your schedule, if lunchtime, bedtime, or...

Meditation For Stress

9 min read

Meditation For Stress

Understanding meditation is a powerful technique that can lead to improved well-being and health. Learn more about the causes of stress, the benefits...

Types of Meditation

8 min read

Types of Meditation

This article covers various meditation practices, from mindfulness, loving-kindness and transcendental meditation. Discover new meditation techniques...

Meditation For Beginners

8 min read

Meditation For Beginners

Embark on a journey into meditation for beginners with this blog post. Enhance your mental well-being and discover relaxation through this versatile...

How Meditation Works

7 min read

How Meditation Works

Most of us have heard the virtues of meditation extolled time and again. But what do we really know about how meditation works? What is meditation?...

Meditation For Sport

12 min read

Meditation For Sport

Meditation is a powerful tool for athletes to harness in training and competition. Its benefits include enhanced performance, better focus, quicker...