Meditation is more than a spiritual tradition used to create a sense of peace and inner harmony. Meditation is a mindfulness technique that has been utilized for thousands of years to sharpen focus and attention, connect your body and breath and cope with difficult emotions. Although many spiritual traditions include meditation the practice itself does not belong to any religion or faith.
So why am I reading about meditation at my doctor’s office? Pain and injuries often invite negative thoughts and it’s extremely hard for us to make our thoughts disappear.
In fact, the more we try to quiet them, it seems the louder they become. These loud negative thoughts can be stressful, and high stress leads to decreased immune function. This is where meditation comes in. Meditation is a type of mind-body medicine that trains attention and awareness. It can be utilized to suppress reactivity to one’s negative thoughts and feelings.
Studies have shown meditation acts on the area of the brain that regulates the autonomic nervous system, which helps calm our fight or flight response and lower blood pressure. In doing so it allows us to slow our pulse, reduce stress and enhance our well being.
In this article we will discuss the health benefits of regular meditation, common meditation practices, tips to get you started and the effect of meditation on healing.
Research has shown that daily meditation may help:
- Reduce stress
- Increase immunity
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve sleep
- Improve emotional regulation
- Increase focus
- Increased adaptability (neuroplasticity)
- Decrease inflammation
- Decrease chronic pain
- Decrease symptoms of depression
Meditation is a practice and there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are many ways to practice meditation and you should explore them all to see what works best for you. Keep in mind your practice may evolve and you may practice differently from day to day. It is important to find which practice resonates with you and your healing journey.
Common forms of meditation include:
- Guided meditation- aka imagery or visualization meditation, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. Try to incorporate as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. This type of practice may be led by a guide or teacher.
- Mantra meditation- meditation, where you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
- Mindfulness meditation- This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your awareness. What that means is you focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions. But let them pass without judgment.
- Qi gong- combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance.
- Tai chi- is a form of Chinese martial arts training. In tai chi you perform a self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing deep breathing.
- Transcendental meditation- In this form of meditation, you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra, such as a word, sound or phrase, in a specific way. This form of meditation may allow your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort.
There’s no right way or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you reduce your stress and feel better overall. Experiment, and you’ll likely find out what types of meditation work best for you and what you enjoy doing. Different types of meditation may include different features to help you meditate. These may vary depending on whose guidance you follow or who’s teaching a class. Keep in my mind these are all designed to enhance your experience and can be utilized in any form of meditation.
Some of the most common features in meditation include:
- Focused attention- Focusing your attention is generally one of the most important elements of meditation. Focusing your attention is what helps free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, or even your breathing.
- Relaxed breathing- This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The purpose is to slow your breathing, take in more oxygen, and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more efficiently.
- A quiet setting- If you’re a beginner, practicing meditation may be easier if you’re in a quiet spot with few distractions, including no television, radios or cellphones.
As you get more skilled at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where you benefit the most from meditation, such as a traffic jam, a stressful work meeting or a long line at the grocery store.
- A comfortable position- You can practice meditation whether you’re sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation. Aim to keep good posture during meditation.
- Open attitude- Let thoughts pass through your mind without judgment.
Pain and stress are natural human defects, and we all experience them in our daily lives. However, how we manage stress and pain are more in our control than you might think. This is how meditation can impact our healing. Utilizing meditation helps bring awareness to your body and decreases inflammation enhancing your overall recovery and healing. Meditation doesn’t have to be utilized just for healing; It is a great wellness practice as well. Decreasing stress will decrease tension within the body allowing you to move and function with ease. Start slow and make it your own, results are seen with as little as 5-10 minutes of meditation a day.
For questions and answers on whether meditation can affect your condition please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 310-451-5851.