Something not to be overlooked during National Women’s Health Week is mental health, a subject that often doesn’t get its due. We live a stressful life, in what seems, at times, an unsympathetic world. And it takes a toll.
Here, a meditation practice is useful. Meditation can help control stress, decrease anxiety, and improve capacity for relaxation. Troubles don’t disappear, but they are given perspective and made more manageable.
There is also a spiritual component to happiness and general well-being; something anyone can appreciate, no matter her faith or lack thereof. (I am through and through a secularist, yet I meditate daily.)
The nuts and bolts of meditation often appear obtuse, but they needn’t be that way. I don’t use any of Wild Divine’s products, so I can’t speak to them, but this short introduction to meditation from Wild Divine might be useful to interested newbies:
What are the Different Types of Meditation?
While there are many different types of meditation, there are two general classifications: concentrative and mindfulness. In concentrative meditation, you focus on clearing your mind to provide you with greater concentration, awareness and clarity. In mindfulness meditation, you open your mind to become more aware of the things around you, such as scents, sounds and thoughts.
The easiest way to engage in concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Relax and count your breaths as you breathe through your nose. Take deep breaths, hold them and let them out slowly. This helps you to get oxygen into the lowest portions of your lungs.
There are times when you mind may wander, but you refocus on your breathing to get rid of your thoughts. You can also focus on an object when meditating or you may want to repeat a phrase or a word. This is called mantra meditation in which you can choose to repeat the word or phrase aloud or silently in your head.
If you are agitated or worried about something, your breathing will be short and fast when you first start this type of meditation. As you start to relax, your breathing will slow down and become regulated. As you focus on your breathing or on an object, your mind will become absorbed with the regulation of your breathing and all other thoughts will vanish from your mind.
Zen meditation is one type of concentrative meditation in which you concentrate on the functioning of the heart. There are three main aims in this form:
1. to develop the power of concentration
2. to awaken your inner sense of wisdom
3. to recognize the action of the Supreme Being on your inner self
The idea is that once you are able to rid yourself of the thoughts of everyday life, you can reach that inner sense of peace that exists in everyone. It helps to calm the mind and body to give you insight into the nature of your existence. You must be patient and persistent in meditating in order for your mind to become clear.
Raja Yoga Meditation is another type of concentrative meditation. This form of meditation helps you to gain control of your mind to enable to you to develop a sense of peace. The life force of your body moves through the spine so that awareness is able to move into the “Third Eye” which is a point between your eyebrows.
Your mind is not passive and there can be many thoughts racing through it. You try to free yourself of these mindless thoughts and focus on the real meaning of meditating to achieve a pleasant feeling throughout the body.
Mindfulness meditation involves a passing parade of thoughts, emotions and images through your mind. You sit in a meditating position and instead of trying to banish the thoughts from your mind, you allow them to enter. You do acknowledge that they are present but you don’t concentrate on them. This allows you to develop a calm approach to your problems so that you don’t react quickly.
Instead of focusing on one individual thought or scene, you allow each though to become part of the bigger picture. It trains your mind to meditate on things in your life over which you have no control so that you have a heightened sense of inner peace that will enable you to go on with your life in spite of extreme difficulties.
For those serious about starting a daily meditation program, I highly recommend the little book that got me started: 8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life.