Meditation and relaxation go hand in hand, however they are learned arts. In our hectic world, many of us feel stressed out and over worked. Meditation gives the mind a break and makes thoughts calmer and better focused. Spending quiet time in meditation also teaches about overcoming stress and finding inner peace and balance. Many individuals overcome negative thoughts through meditation and also, some individuals also utilize prayer during quiet time or meditation.
In a 2013 Huffington Post article, author Amanda Chan identified many benefits of meditation. The benefits include:
Lets us know our true selves by having the time to objectively analyze ourselves.
Promotes better focus ~ with working adults as well as students, cognitive function is improved.
Allows for better performance, better ability to handle and recover from stress.
Changes the brain in a protective way – for more positive thoughts.
Works as the brain’s volume knob, keeping negativity at a minimum.
Improves focus on music by improving focus.
Promotes sleep through relaxation.
Boosts health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.
Meditation needs only to last 10 – 15 minutes to be effective. Sitting in a comfortable position to meditate is best, although there is no prescribed position. While being quiet in meditation, don’t try to eliminate thoughts or resist them. Let them come and go freely. You may experience a dream-like state during meditation and not be conscious of noises or sounds. Some people fall asleep while meditating, while others experience strong emotions. Should you experience any strong thoughts or emotions, try to come back to breathing and focus on that.
The Cleveland Clinic has a unique take on mindfulness and meditation. Code Lavender is a holistic care response serving both patients and providers in need of emotional or spiritual support. Through the program, a provider who summons emotional support is met by a team of holistic nurses within 30 minutes of a call. The team provides Reiki* and massage, health snacks and water, and lavender arm bands to remind the individual to relax for the rest of the day. The Holistic Services Team also offers a variety of other methods, including spiritual support, mindfulness training, counseling and yoga. According to the Huffington Post, the Cleveland Clinic is one of a growing number of hospitals and health systems that are integrating holistic therapies into their services. A 2011 American Hospital Association report found that 42% of hospitals surveyed offer one or more Complementary and Alternative Medicine therapies, including acupuncture, homeotherapy, and herbal medicine—up from 37% in 2007.
I have included a sample meditation from Meditation Oasis. It is an eight minute Mandela Meditation, with beautiful music and mandalas.
*Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation and promoting healing. It is a method of “laying on of hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen life energy force flows through us and is what causes to be alive. If the life energy force is low, a person is more likely to feel ill, stressed or unhappy.
Ainsworth, B. et al. (2013) The effect of focused attention and open monitiroing meditation on attention network function in healthy volunteers. Psychiatry Research, 210(3):1226-31.
Foureur, M. et al. (2013) Enhancing the resilience of nurses and midwives: pilot of a mindfulness-based program for increased health, sense of coherence and decreased depression, anxiety and stress. Contemporary Nurse, 45(1):114-25.
Goyal, M. et al. (2014) Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, Jan 6.
Singh, Y. et al. (2012) Immediate and long-term effects of meditation on acute stress reactivity, cognitive funcitions and intelligence. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 18(6): 46-53.