Meditation is a process that involves relaxing the body and quieting the mind. The individual achieves a mentally clear and emotionally calm state by focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity.
Thousands of years ago meditation practice was common in Asia, before being adopted by the West in our times. There are various types;
- Loving-kindness meditation aims to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness towards everything, including a person’s enemies and sources of stress.
- Progressive or body scan meditation encourages participants to scan their bodies for areas of tension and allow its release.
- Mindfulness is a form of meditation that encourages awareness of a person’s existing surroundings.
- Breath awareness promotes mindful breathing while ignoring any other thought.
- Transcendental meditation requires the participant to repeat a word or phrase known as a mantra.
It’s not based on, or restricted to any particular religious belief. You can practice meditation without having to believe in anything. A Christian or Muslim can practice it without any conflict with their faith. That goes for atheists and agnostics as well. Practicing meditation will not make you religious, and in fact, many people practice meditation exclusively for health and well-being benefits.
Indeed, meditation is associated with numerous practical benefits.
- Meditation greatly improves concentration. Meditation is all about focus, and this can be utilized in all aspects of life, thus increasing your productivity.
- Meditation teaches detachment.This world is filled with people who are going nowhere fast, chasing after trivial things, and being bothered by inconsequential affairs. Meditation allows us to realize what is truly important, and teaches us to live in the here and now, rather than worry about the future.
- It enables us to have a deeper understanding of our inner selves. We are able to recognize the bigger picture, and not worry about meaningless things.
- Meditation helps us focus our attention on the useful, and helps us remove our attention from negative thought, giving us control over our lives.
Meditation has been proven to help with sleepless nights and improve insomnia. It also helps to effectively relieve stress. This is important as stress has many deleterious effects on the body, from raising the blood pressure, to damaging the DNA. It is also a great weapon against anxiety. Meditation is also a good technique to prevent the development of life-threatening addictions such as excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse. These habits are basically developed as a means to unwind and relax. Meditation is a risk-free, easy-to-learn technique,as it relaxes the body and mind without any nasty side effect. In the words of J. Cole in his song Friends, ‘Meditate,don’t medicate.’
The pleasure derived from meditation never feels repetitive, unlike that derived from activities such as earning money,listening to music, watching sports, etc. Engaging in these activities causes the release of Dopamine, the pleasure chemical. However, with repeated exposure to the same pleasures, a tolerance for dopamine is built, and the reward gradually diminishes. Research has shown, however, that the dopamine produced from meditation doesn’t undergo reduction. Nope, this pleasure is free, and only gets better!
There are many more benefits to meditation (mental, emotional, and scientific) which you can discover for yourself, as you find more inner peace. Meditation is a skill that takes time to master. You can start with as little as 3 minutes a day, and gradually increase it. However, take care to note that there is no such thing as perfect meditation. Consistency is key. Keep practicing, and good luck!
Watch now: Deepak Chopra's Go-To 3-minute Meditation to stay focused:
Written by Agba Oluchi
Oluchi Agba is a final year student of Pharmacology, at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. She is concerned about emerging health issues and is passionate about helping people reach their health goals. She enjoys reading mystery novels, taking long, quiet walks, and keeping up with the latest news in medicine and health.