Meditation is as important as physical exercise and healthy diet. It is therefore surprising that very few people know about how to practice meditation. The prerequisite to successful meditation is rooted in the way you breathe. It is known as diaphragmatic breathing. A lot of beginners tend to be clueless in regards to where the diaphragm is even located! In this post for ‘meditation for beginners’, I will try to cover the hows, whys and whats of meditation.
What is Meditation?
Meditation or dhyana dates back to 1500 BCE Hindu traditions of Vedantism. Meditation is performed to create conscious awareness of our own mind and body. It is a channel to know oneself. It is a process in which we let go of all the distractions, negativity and concentrate or connect with our inner true self. The core of meditation is focused thinking in which the body and mind are brought together to function harmoniously. Practicing meditation lets you know yourself better. It enables you to focus on your goals, ambitions and desires purging out all the negative emotions and distractions. Meditation makes you stoic.
Why to Meditate?
1) Meditation and Neuroplasticity (change in brain composition)
Meditation affects and changes the composition of brain positively. Studies have indicated that meditation increases the gray matter in the left hippocampus (enhances memory, faster learning, attention span and ability to recall), posterior cingulate cortex (increases sensitivity and self awareness), temporo-parietal junction (increase ability to feel empathy and compassion). Meditation also decreases the gray matter in the amygdala (reduce stress, depression, anxiety, fear and anger). Research led by neuroscientist Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin in cooperation with the Dalai Lama have concluded that meditation results in altered brain activity and gray matter associated with qualities which includes the ability of the body to heal itself.
2) Alleviate Insomnia
Anxiety is one of the major reasons of insomnia or difficulty in getting good sleep. Stress from work or personal life generates negative energy and thoughts in our mind. Meditation clears out the mental blockage of debilitating fears and anxiety. Meditating just before going to sleep at night helps improve the quality of sleep and calms the mind. Meditation gives you a deep sense of inner peace and tranquility that carries over into every aspect of your everyday life.
3) Inner Peace and Emotional Wellbeing-
Consistent meditation is the path to stoicism. Meditation helps us detach from negative emotions and gives a sense of freedom. It makes you free from unwarranted feeling of loss, jealously, fear and pain. It gives meaning to joy and multiplies the happiness. By paying attention to your subconscious and thoughts, you learn how to control emotions, rather than let emotions control you. You get the freedom and power to not let negative emotions affect you. Meditation disciplines your mind.
4) Freedom from anxiety and depression
Meditation is the most effective method of fighting depression. With the ability to focus on the present you can let go the anxieties of past and uncertainties of future. The heightened consciousness about your true self leads to an increased spiritual attunement. It enables you to experience a stronger connection with your sixth sense or intuition. Mediation frees your mind from negativity and as the direct consequence you can now see the insights, new solutions and different perspectives which were previously clouded by anxiety and depression. You can now fight the inner Babadook of ego and fear with the rays of positivity, hope and self actualization.
5) Better Health-
Health benefits of meditation are numerous. Studies have shown that the regular meditation helps improve the body’s immune system which makes the body to heal itself faster. Meditation includes diaphragmatic breathing which improves the respiratory system and is beneficial for people suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma. Meditation is especially beneficial for pregnant women.
Which is the best time to meditate?
You can meditate whenever you feel stressed. However, early morning is the best time to meditate. You can also meditate at work during lunch hours to relax your mind and body. Meditating at night just before going to bed ensures good sleep. Don’t meditate just after having the meal.
You can star from 5-10 minutes a day and gradually increase it to 15-20 minutes a day. A timer or Alarm clock can help you remind and set the time of the day for meditation. It is good practice to meditate around the same time every day. It helps develop the meditation habit and a daily schedule.
Where to meditate?
Meditation is best performed in calm, soothing environment. The room should be clean and tidy. Wear comfortable and loose clothes. Make sure that there are no distracting noises and the room temperature is right. You can also go to a secluded natural place early morning to meditate such as parks, riverside or sea shore.
Learn how to meditate– Beginners Guide.
Dr. Haseena Hamdani, MBBS, DGO, PGD Endocrinology and Diabetes (USW) is a Gynaecologist, currently practicing in Gaborone, Botswana since the last 17 years. Prior to setting up this clinic she worked in India as well as in Zambia, as a Gynaecologist and Obstetrician and was also associated with an Infertility center. She is also an online tutor for the University of South Wales.