Meditation is referred to as a set of techniques that are used to encourage a personal state of awareness. Meditation has been practised in many different cultures across the world and is commonly used for spiritual or religious purposes. However, there are known psychological benefits that allow meditation to be used as a psychotherapeutic technique.
Types of meditation
There are various types of meditation and each type can offer a different outcome. You can adapt a concentrative approach where you focus all your attention on a specific thing, blocking out distractions in the process. Whereas mindfulness allows you to target different issues by creating a sense of self-awareness by being involved in the present moment.
Guided Meditation - Guided meditation is a method where you are guided by a teacher, an audio or a video. This type of meditation is good for beginners as you are guided by a professional where you are able to pick up on techniques. In this method, you are able to have someone explain to better help you understand the process of meditation. This also encourages good practice.
Unguided Meditation - Unguided meditation is often referred to as silent meditation where there is no one guiding the session and you are able to pay attention to the body and mind. If you are experienced in meditation, this may be a good method for you as you can apply to techniques learned in guided meditation.
Calming Meditation - Calming meditation is a quieter form of meditation and encourages a peaceful mind. This is seen to improve concentration and focus on a particular thing, such as your breathing or an object, can allow the mind to focus on any sensations you might be experiencing.
Insight Meditation - Insight meditation is used to develop compassion through the focusing of breath and breathing. This is used to encourage physical and mental sensations.
Movement Meditation - This form of meditation can include walking, gardening, tai chi and other forms of movement that encourage you to form a deeper connection with your body. This can also refer to exercise, such as yoga which proposes calm, mindful movements focusing on your muscles.
What meditation is good for
Meditation has a variety of different benefits, both physiological and psychological.
For your mental health, meditation can offer a new perspective by aiding your management of stress-related situations. There are other benefits such as,
- Reduce negative and intrusive emotions
- Patience and tolerance
- Manage symptoms of anxiety
- Reduce sleep problems/disorders
When meditating for physical benefits, it can help you manage symptoms of conditions, such as,
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
Meditation has proven to lower your respiration rate and decrease your heart rate. Therefore, introducing meditation into your daily routine where you are able to regulate your breathing pattern can increase your comfort, promoting relaxation.
What meditation is not
Whilst it is important to discuss what meditation is and what it can offer, it is also important to consider what meditation is not and how this can contribute to finding what form of meditation is best for you. Meditation is not a quick fix and whilst you may find yourself experiencing immediate benefits of meditation, you could benefit from adding meditation to your self-care routine to build upon the techniques you are using.
Meditation may not be for everyone. Whilst meditation can be beneficial for some, it has been known to cause anxiety for people who cannot process intense emotions and memories. This may trigger trauma and lead to increased symptoms of anxiety and paranoia.
Other proposed side effects include:
- Negative thinking
- A change in sensory perception
- Lack of motivation
- Damage a sense of self
How to start meditating
It is suggested for those who are just starting to incorporate meditation into their daily self-care routine to start in small sessions of around 5 to 10 minutes. If you find a quiet space to sit and choose a method of meditation, then this will allow you to start the process of meditating in an easy and effective way. Once you feel you are ready to either increase the time or change your routine, you will then be able to adjust and advance in your methods of meditation.