If stress is causing you to feel anxious, tense or worried, consider trying meditation. By meditating for even a few minutes, you can take the stress out of your day and bring inner peace. Did you know you can easily learn to meditate?
Practice it. Prepare yourself for the moments when it might be of use to you.
Everyone can meditate. It is simple and inexpensive, it helps with many aspects of daily life and you can practice meditation wherever you are - whether you are taking a walk, sitting on the bus, waiting to see the doctor, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
The idea behind Meditation
Meditation has been practised for thousands of years. Originally, the purpose of meditation was to broaden and improve one's understanding of the sacred and mystical forces in life. Today, meditation is mainly used for relaxation and stress reduction. Think of it as a kind of complementary medicine for body and mind.
During meditation you concentrate your attention and eliminate the flow of confusing thoughts that fills your mind and causes stress. In this way you create a process that improves your emotional and physical well-being.
A sense of control over the calmness, peace and balance in your mind can thus benefit your overall health. Meditation teaches you how to achieve this. The benefits do not end when your meditation session ends. You will find that you carry this state of well-being with you into the rest of your day, and perhaps into the night as well.
Meditation and emotional well-being
When you meditate, you can manage the overwhelming amount of information that adds to your stress every day.
The benefits of meditation can be:
- A new perspective on stressful situations
- Way of dealing with stress
- Increased self-awareness
- Focus on the present
- Reduction of negative emotions
- Increases your imagination and creativity
- Increased patience and tolerance
A new perspective on stressful situations teaches you to deal with your stress in other ways. The idea is to focus more on the present and, with increased self-awareness, reduce your negative emotions. More patience and tolerance is the end result. In addition, you can increase your imagination and creativity through meditation.
Types of meditation
Meditation is a general term for the many ways of achieving a state of relaxation. There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have components of meditation. They all share the same goal: to achieve inner peace.
Ways to meditate may include:
- Guided meditation. The easiest way to get acquainted with meditation is through guided meditation. During a guided meditation you hear music or other sound with a voice that guides you through the meditation. This way you easily stay focused.
- Mantra meditation. In mantra meditation you silently repeat a calming word or phrase to avoid distracting thoughts.
- Full Consciousness Meditation. This kind of meditation is based on awareness, or having an increased perception and acceptance of life in the present.In this kind of meditation you increase your perception. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but you let them pass without judgment.
- Qi gong. This discipline usually combines meditation, relaxation, physical movement, and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qi gong is part of traditional Chinese medicine.
- Tai Chi. This is a form of Chinese martial arts. In tai chi, you do a series of postures or movements at your own pace in a graceful and slow manner while breathing deeply.
- Yoga. Through fixed postures and controlled breathing exercises you meditate yourself towards a more flexible body and a calmer mind. The postures you do require balance and concentration. This encourages you to focus less on your busy day and more on the moment.
What do you need?
For your meditation to be successful, it is important to consider the following things:
- Focus and attention. One of the most important elements of meditation is to focus your attention. This helps to free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress and worry. You can focus your attention on things like a specific object, an image, a mantra or even your breathing.
- Relaxed breathing. By learning a technique, you can achieve deep and even breathing. The goal is to make breathing slower, receive more oxygen and reduce the use of shoulder, neck and upper chest muscles when breathing. In other words, to breathe more efficiently.
- A quiet place. Especially if you are a beginner, meditation will be easier if you are in a quiet place with few distractions, including no TV, radio or mobile phone.As you gain experience with meditation you should in theory be able to meditate anywhere. So also in stressful situations where you benefit more from meditating, such as in a traffic jam, at a stressful work meeting or waiting in a long queue at the supermarket.
- A comfortable position. You can practice meditation sitting, lying down, walking, in other positions or during activities. Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation. But always try to maintain a good posture during meditation.
- Open posture. Let thoughts pass through your mind without judging them. Do not dwell too much on one type of thoughts, but let them flow.
Do not allow the idea of correct meditation to increase your stress. It goes as it goes, go with the flow, and you will see that you are getting better and better. Practice makes perfect: so does meditation. If you want, you can take meditation classes with trained instructors. But you can also practise meditation easily and on your own.
You can do your meditation as formally or informally as you like, depending on your lifestyle and personal situation. Some people make meditation part of their daily routine. For example, they start their day with an hour of meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time with yourself for a successful meditation session.
Start short, with a few minutes. The more advanced can sit longer in the same position without losing focus. Build this up slowly, just as you would with exercise. Don't push yourself with meditation. The most important thing is not how long you can keep it up, but how qualitative your meditation is (how well you were able to keep the focus and how relaxed you come out of it).
We give you some ways in which you can meditate in your own way, and when you want.
Breathe deeply. This technique is good for beginners, because breathing is a natural function. Focus all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on what you feel and what you hear when you breathe through the nose. Breathe in deeply and slowly and blow out gently. If your attention wanders, gently refocus on your breathing.
Scan your body. When using this technique, focus your attention on different parts of your body. Think about the different sensations of your body, whether it is pain, tension, warmth or relaxation. Combine this technique with breathing exercises and imagine breathing heat or relaxation in and out of your body.
Walk and meditate
Combining a walk with meditation is an efficient and healthy way to relax. You can use this technique anywhere you walk, such as in the forest, on a city pavement, or in the park.
When using this method, walk slowly and quietly so that you can concentrate on the movement of your legs or feet. Do not focus on a specific destination).
Read and evaluate
Many people say that they benefit from reading poems or other types of texts, and then take a moment to quietly reflect on the meaning.You can also listen to recorded words (spoken word), or to music that relaxes and inspires you. You could write your reflections in a notebook and talk about them with a friend.
How to improve your meditation ability
Do not judge your meditation skills. This can increase your stress. We have said it before: practice makes perfect, and the same goes for meditation.
Remember that it is common for your mind to wander when you meditate, no matter how long you have been practising. If you are meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, return slowly to the object, sensation or movement you are concentrating on.
Experience, and you will soon find out which types of meditation do or do not work for you. Adjust the meditation to what you need at that moment. Remember: there is no right or wrong way to meditate. What matters is that meditation helps you to reduce stress and feel better in general.