Meditation

Definition

Used to train, calm, or empty the mind (also known as achieving an altered state) often done so by focusing on a single object.  Additionally, it involves engaging in contemplation and reflection in a quiet and deliberate manner.  Although meditation is commonly thought to be associated to specific religions, the techniques can be used by anyone, regardless of spiritual beliefs, to improve health and life quality.

Benefits and Uses

  • Provides an overall sense of relaxation, peace, and balance
  • Controls stress
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Manages anger
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Supports treatment of various mental health disorders (including depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders)
  • Improves physical health (including cardiovascular and immune systems)

What to expect

It is normal for any individual new to meditation to have difficulties focusing or “emptying” their mind, because it is a technique that takes practice.  It is often common for individuals to get distracted by their thoughts when attempting to meditate, but this is precisely why these techniques are beneficial as they teach individuals to control their mind and thoughts, rather than allow their own thoughts to control the individual.  It is recommended to practice meditating 5-30 minutes per day, often increasing the time as it becomes easier and more comfortable.  Meditation normally includes techniques such as counting breaths, paying attention to how one breathes, silently repeating calming words or phrases, or focusing on a specific sound or visual image such as ocean sounds, a candle, or any peaceful mental picture.

Who Should Consider It

You should consider practicing meditation if you:

  • Have experienced a distressing situation (ex. divorce, death of a loved one, loss of employment)
  • Regularly feel stressed or overwhelmed
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Often experience a “racing” mind
  • Have difficulty controlling your mood and/or feelings
  • Regularly feel anxious about yourself or your life
  • Have a medical condition that causes chronic pain

More Information

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/meditation/HQ01070