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Since learning mindfulness, meditation has become an activity in my life I thoroughly enjoy. Be it five minutes, thirty minutes, an hour, or just consciously meditating while doing an enjoyable activity, meditation has benefited my mind body and soul, as it has with millions of others.

What is meditation?

Meditation comes in many shapes and forms. The most simple explanation is it is a conscious state of peace that can only occur when the mind is calm and silent. Your mind moves out of active thinking of busy thoughts and into the  present moment, where you create a clear awareness. You can therefore acknowledge the content in your mind without getting caught up, or identifying with it.  Regular meditation creates  genuine physiological effects such as deep relaxation or a highly alert metal state. It’s a practice that has been used thousands of years, throughout the world.  The word meditation, is derived from two Latin words : meditari (to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation ‘medha’ means wisdom. Meditation is not Eastern nor Western, it is Universal with its approach and purpose.

Who meditates?

Anyone can mediate, from children to elderly to your boss. Yoga is a great form of meditation as it is heavily focused around moving your body in line with your breathing, and this has just yummy effects.

Whether you practice Buddhism, Christianity, Pagan/Witchcraft, Confucianism,  Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Voodoo, the list goes on…or you simply just practice in being the best version of you, and  just want to peacefully relax, meditation is for you.

Why meditate?

Apart from being able to enjoy some peace for even just a few minutes, the power of meditation has far greater benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

It counteracts the negative effects of stress, along with assisting in our ability to cope with stress on a day to day level. When you are stressed, anxious, your body can go into “fight or flight” mode. Meditation enhances your overall relaxation and helps that response subside. In science talk it decreases the production of stress hormones such as lactate, cortisol and adrenaline.

Meditation also helps with depression. You become mindful of your thoughts and become aware it is something you can control, and learn to change and calm. I find the practice of meditation just as, if not stronger that medication. Learning to meditate to assist in curing my depression has really helped, and its being aware that you need to take one step at a time, and not feel like a failure because you couldn’t do it the first couple of times, and it takes time to build up to long periods. there is no right or wrong, just whatever works for you and gives you the positive results.

Meditation also decreases blood pressure, hypertension, and lowers cholesterol levels. It helps with insomnia, headaches/ migraines, allergies, chronic pain, asthma, stress related skin, digestive and nervous disorders, and stimulates the immune system.

It assists in speeding up recovery from illness or infections, helps bodily fluids move freely, and opens air passages allowing for deep relaxation breathing.  It also increases certain blood levels of specific substances such as melatonin (improves sleep) , DHEA (a hormone in the body that improves sex drive and fights the effects of aging – fucking win!) and GABA ( a chemical in the brain that relieves pain, improves mood and reduces anxiety).

On top of all that physical goodness, meditation also promotes psychological health. Again, it reduces anxiety, but it also increases confidence, happiness, empathy, gratitude, alertness, openness to experience life, creativity, concentration, your intuition and perceptual sensitivity. It balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and creates a balance between the left and right, thoughts and feelings, logic and intuition.

Where can I meditate?

Meditation can take place anywhere you can get a quiet moment. You can meditate at home, in your office, at the park, while you garden, while you paint, doing yoga, it comes in many forms so don’t think you have to be sitting quietly in order to reap the benefits, find what works for you. Soft or calming music is always beneficial to help relax.

How do I meditate?

I like to have incense burning as certain scents assist in concentration like sage or sandalwood.  If you like something to focus on, light a candle or focus on the incense smoke. I also use crystals in meditation as their energy can be transmitted to us. Certain stones like fluorite, kyanite, ametrine, and amethyst can help with getting into the meditative state.  They are also a good focus point for meditation.

Start by finding a comfortable position, for example sitting on a cushion with your legs either out in front of you or crossed gently. Observe your breath but do not try to control it, observe what you see around you but do not make judgement. For example, you may see a lamp, your coffee table, the cat sleeping in the corner of the couch. Let these be mere observations with no judgement or emotion added to them.

Secondly, close your eyes, take in the senses one at a time. Feeling the material of your clothes against your skin, the pressure of the surface against your back or underneath you.  Next focus on what you smell, this is where the benefit of incense can come in but you can always pick a flower and use this during your meditation, flowers have beautiful energy that we can work with. Just be sure to return it to nature when you have finished with it.

Now focus on what you can hear, the sound of the soft music, or perhaps the birds in the trees. Being aware but not reactive to the sounds that you hear. Continue for as long as you feel comfortable. For best health results, meditate on a daily basis.

References:

Permutt, P. The Little Pocket Book of Crystal Chakra Healing, (2009).

http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/meditation.aspx

http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate