There are often misconceptions about what is meditation. Some believe that one must go into deep sleep or will levitate when you start meditating. Contrary to such beliefs, meditation is not about obtaining super powers; rather, it is to “tame the mind”. The word stems from the Latin name meditatum which means to ponder. It is generally a subjective, personal experience to train one’s mind in order to realise some benefits. The achievement is usually to cultivate an internal state of mind, such as feeling compassion or having awareness of oneself.
Meditation is most likely seen as a therapeutic form of likely seen as a therapeutic form of exercise to improve one’s mind and soul. To date, there are hundreds of different types of meditation techniques available. Using meditative techniques to promote healing originated from the diversity of cultures and people from around the world. Most of them are rooted in the tradition of major religions – particularly Buddhism and Hinduism – which can be traced back thousands of years.
One of the major reasons to meditate in modern society is to counteract stress. There are many distractions causing the mind to be in a terrible state of disorder. Physically we often feel tense and mentally we are not focusing well. We usually end up suffering from stress and anxiety, which indirectly causes a strain on our bodily functions.
It is healthy to meditate as it helps the body rest and regenerate by decreasing the metabolic rate and lowering the heart rate. It helps to calm the mind. However, for beginners, it may seem that it can be boring, exhausting or even frustrating. But once the initial steps have been mastered, most people find it enjoyable. Many of them also developed an attitude of mindfulness. It is the awareness and detachment of emotions, rather than letting it take over us, much like observing emotions from the outside.
According to Richard Davidson, neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin’s Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behaviour, experienced meditators show high-frequency gamma waves a brainwave pattern associated with higher mental activity, perception and consciousness.
In another study done by Sara Lazar, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, regular meditators’ brains are thicker than those that do not meditate. The cortex – brain regions associated with attention, sensory awareness and emotional processing – grew thicker in direct correlation with how much meditation was practised.
Many people fear meditation because they think it involves sitting in silence for an hour at a time. Obviously, it is nearly impossible to fit it into a busy schedule; and there are also many different adaptations of meditation that cater to different people’s needs.
So instead, for starters, try taking five minutes out of each day to sit quietly while focusing on your breathing. For people that cannot sit still, a moving meditation can be done by brisk walking for 10 minutes. The act of not doing anything can have a profoundly relaxing effect on the body and mind.