Taking steps to safeguard mental health is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that mental health affects how individuals think and feel, the choices they make, and how they relate to others, which underscores just how important it is to prioritize mental health.
Meditation is a popular practice with a history so lengthy it may surprise even its most devoted practitioners. According to Psychology Today, some archaeologists trace the origins of meditation all the way back to 5,000 BCE. The global spread of the practice is believed to have started around the fifth or sixth century BCD, when trading along Eurasia’s famed Silk Road exposed the practice to various cultures.
The lengthy history of meditation is proof that the practice is no mere fad. In fact, people from all walks of life have much to gain from meditation. Novices can start their meditation journeys with this basic rundown of a practice that has inspired devotees for thousands of years.
What is meditation?
The Mayo Clinic notes that meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine that intends to produce a tranquil, relaxed state of mind. When practicing meditation, individuals focus their attention and aspire to remove potentially stress-inducing, jumbled thoughts from their mind.
Are there different types
The Mayo Clinic reports that there are various ways to meditate. Guided meditation is a popular form of the practice in which individuals form mental images of places or situations they find relaxing. Guided meditation practitioners employ their senses of smell, sight, sound, and touch during a session, which may be led by a guide or teacher.
Mantra meditation is another form of the practice in which individuals silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase. The repetition is designed to block out distractions.
Mindfulness meditation is a popular form of the practice that emphasizes awareness, or mindfulness, and acceptance of living in the moment. The Mayo Clinic notes that individuals practicing mindfulness meditation will focus on what they experience during meditation, such as the flow of their breath, as they attempt to observe their thoughts and emotions.
How do I meditate?
Mindful Communications, which offers corporate training, practical advice and other insights regarding mindfulness and meditation, notes that meditation is both simpler and more complex than most people think. But the following seven-step prospectus can serve as a useful foundation for meditation novices.
1. Take a seat. Individuals are urged to find a calm, quiet place to sit.
2. Set a time limit. A short session between five and 10 minutes can help novices.
3. Notice your body. Individuals should be stable and sit in a position they can maintain for a while.
4. Feel your breath. As you breath in and out, make an effort to feel the sensation of your breath.
5. Notice if your mind wanders. It’s likely that your mind will wander to other places during your sessions. Pay attention to when it does and then refocus your attention to your breathing.
6. Don’t judge yourself. Wandering thoughts during meditation are not deserving of scorn. When the mind wanders, simply return to meditating without obsessing over the thoughts that came into your head when your mind wandered off.
7. Close with kindness. As your session draws to a close, gently lift your gaze and take a moment to notice your surrounding environment, how your body feels and your thoughts and emotions.
Meditation can pay numerous dividends. More information about meditation can be found at mindful.org.