A lot of people claim to know what meditation is and the benefits of meditation, but when asked, they seem to only be able to recite what it is not. For instance, many people in the 50+ age group still largely associate it with Eastern philosophy, mental transcendence, or other practices that lend the tradition an air of “hocus pocus.” But what is meditation really?
Meditation is a medically-proven exercise that allows you to reach a calmer, more relaxed state of mind. Moreover, it has a wide variety of health benefits as well. Rather than thinking of it as any one thing for any single purpose, we must understand that there are different kinds of mediation, each with its own pros and cons.
The Benefits of Meditation
Search for “types of meditation and benefits,” and you’ll get a lot of genuine, verified medical research touting the health benefits of it and all the ways practicing can help people of all ages. For instance:
Stress Reduction – Different types have their own unique benefits, but all forms of meditative exercise have proven to aid in stress reduction. Along with this calming of the nerves comes lower blood pressure and a lessened chance of developing heart disease.
Emotional Health – Our emotional well-being becomes more and more important as we age, and it’s been proven that practicing meditation frequently can help abate feelings of depression, loneliness, and anxiety.
Aids Brain Function – Our cognitive abilities often begin to suffer in our early 40s – a trend that continues to some degree as we age. Meditation, however, can help improve our attention spans, fight memory loss and keep our minds sharp well into our golden years.
May Help Reduce Pain – In a study of nearly 4000 individuals, many with chronic conditions were able to significantly reduce their pain through mediation.
Types of Meditation
In general, there are six different types of meditative practices. Though they all involve many of the same attributes, they differ enough that it’s worth discussing them so that you can decide which approach is right for you.
1. Mindfulness Meditation – Probably the most popular of all techniques, this is about relaxing and focusing on your thoughts, your body, and your sensations. It doesn’t require a guide in most cases, as it is just about achieving a deep state of relaxation.
2. Spiritual Meditation – Spiritual meditation is about attempting to forge a deeper connection between yourself and the world around you. It is used by many religious adherents to find deeper meaning in their lives and experiences.
3. Focused Meditation – As the name implies, this is about using your senses to forge a deep application of the things around you.
4. Movement Meditation – This is the attempt to achieve a state of mindfulness while walking through the woods, gardening, doing yoga, or moving in other deliberate, simple ways.
5. Mantra Meditation – Through the repetition of a word, sound, or phrase, mantra meditation helps you become more aware of your environment while achieving a deep state of rest and relaxation.
6. Transcendental Meditation – “Transcendence” is a state of relaxed, but alert mindfulness. It is achieved by using combinations of the above techniques, particularly a spoken mantra.
Experience the Health Benefits of Meditation
Whether you are looking to improve your emotional health, reduce stress, or just to work on mindfulness, meditation is something everyone can (and should) try and something you can do virtually anywhere.
With the plethora of different meditative apps, podcasts and guided meditations out there, finding something that feels right for you and that suits your personal goals has never been easier.
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