People often have misconceptions that meditating means sitting down and doing nothing, this could not be further from the truth. Meditation is an active form of brain training to help it increase awareness, it also has a long history for reducing anxiety and stress in order to improve your health and well being. There have been countless studies of the effects of meditation on different conditions such as stress and anxiety. There are also studies that have shown that meditation helps reduce blood pressure and even ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. People who have not meditated before might be intimidated because it might seem like you need to meditate for a long time in order to reap the benefits, however, a study in 2018 has shown that a single 1-hour meditation session already reduces anxiety and have less stress on their arteries in participants, furthermore, there was also a reduction of anxiety a week after the 1 hour session.
Our brains are constantly aging, just like the rest of our body, and many studies have found that long-term meditators have better-preserved brains than those who never medidated, long-term meditators had more grey matter volume throughout the entire brain, not just the regions that were associated with meditating. Furthermore, a study conducted by Yale university found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN) in the brain, which is basically the part that is turned on when we aren’t thinking and our minds are left wondering where we experience stress and anxiety. A reduction in the DMN activity means that we will experience less anxiety when we leave our minds to wander, it also helps the brain snap back out of it.
Guided Meditation and mantra- This type of meditation involves visualizations which means that you have to form mental images or places or things you find relaxing, you should try to use as many of your senses as possible such as smells, sights, sound and touch. Usually you should be led by a meditation guide, but once you get used to it you can definitely do it yourself. This will help calm you down by making your mind feel relaxed. You can also silently repeat words or phrases that you find calming in order to prevent distracted thoughts from taking over your mind.
Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga- This is a more modern type of meditation that involves you being mindful. This can be done by having an increased awareness of living in the present moment and also to broaden your awareness by focusing on what you experience while meditating such as the airflow of your breath when you are breathing and noticing what your arms are doing. You should avoid passing judgement over your thoughts, just let them flow through your mind without thinking much about it. Yoga is also an excellent way to keep you calm and in good shape at the same time. It involves performing a series of postures and controlled breathing exercises in order to make your body more flexible and calm you down. Yoga requires balance and concentration which makes you focus more on the moment and your exercises than to worry about your day. Make sure to find a yoga instructor if you are a beginner so that you learn to perform the exercises properly and you do not end up injuring yourself.
When people start to meditate, they usually panic and try to meditate the “right” way, which will simply add to your stress instead of calming you down. If you do not want the hassle of going to meditation centers or hiring an instructor, or if you do not have the time to do that then there are many easier options for you as well. One of the easiest ways to meditate is to Breathe deeply. This is perfect for beginners because you have been breathing since you were born so you do not have to learn complicated exercises or movements. Simply focus all your attention on breathing and and try to feel and listen when you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Another easy way to meditate is to walk, yes, walking is a part of meditation. In order to walk and meditate, try to focus on each movement of your legs and repeat words such as “lifting” “moving” or “placing” in your mind in order to keep it focused on walking and meditating.
When you start your meditation journey, make sure not to criticize yourself too much, you should take it easy when you’re not able to perform some movements, getting impatient will be counterproductive and make you even more stressed as opposed to calming you down. You should also keep in mind that it is completely normal for your mind to wander when you meditate, and you should practice slowly moving your thoughts back to sensations and movements that you feel. There's lots of ways you can experiment with meditation and there is no right or wrong way to do it, the important thing is to practice and take it easy, no not get frustrated when you are unable to do some movements otherwise there is no point to meditate as it will just increase your stress.
Meditation is an excellent way to help reduce stress living in a worldwide pandemic, you can also do it at home and if you require a guide, there are plenty of videos or online classes available. If you need professional help in order to discuss things in your life that are causing you stress or want a guide to help you improve your mental condition then do not hesitate to contact Dr. Narindr at one of the links below.