What is Meditation?
What are its benefits?
How do I meditate?
The word Meditation used to conjure up images of monks and yogis sitting cross legged for long hours in caves, temples or mountain tops. When I used to teach yoga, meditation and meditation workshops, I've been asked... "is Meditation a kind of religion?"!
Thankfully we've evolved a lot since then, just a decade on, and now science has caught up too with the proven scientific benefits of meditation, in helping with healing, stress and general wellbeing. Science can now prove after extensive research with electrodes on the brain and blood tests on biochemicals in our body, that Meditation causes a direct change in brainwave patterns, hence affects the physiology of the body through our glands. After all, our mind and body is connected. How can they not be? how you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how you think.
Without getting too much into the depth of it, Meditation is simply a "being fully present in the moment" without being carried away by 10 million turbulent thoughts, conscious or subconscious. Hence engaging in one's heart passions eg. for some, gardening, cooking, creating a piece of art, music, making tea or engaging in a physical passion like running, mountain climbing, nature walks etc. can be meditative. When we feel like we're "in-the-zone" everything aligns itself in our body, mind and soul.
So sitting meditation is just as powerful, though not necessarily the only way to meditate. If you fear sitting in silence it's normal because you start to hear your gibberish thoughts or feel agitated, especially when you've been chronically stressed or anxious, or if you identify yourself as a Type A personality who can't just "do nothing".
In fact you're not just doing nothing, you're allowing a lot to do it's own thing. Your body has its own innate intelligence. The same intelligence that creates life from fertilisation, births a baby, causes the heart to pump, the lungs to breathe and the stomach to digest, also has the innate impulse to return to homeostasis ie. balance.
So be it whether you're healing from a physical, mental or emotional imbalance, or simply want to maintain wellness in your life, it's wise to include meditation as part of your routine. It doesn't require hours, even just 10mins/day which is less time than scrolling through social media! Be it sitting or active. In a meditative state, our brainwaves change from active beta to alpha and switches the body from fight or flight back to homeostasis. At higher levels of meditative practices where our brainwaves can be taken to theta and gama, we can even affect many powerful changes on our biochemicals, gene expression and subconscious mindset. A bit too much depth for this blogpost but there are countless reliable books and resources available now if you wish to learn more.
How to meditate?
We're fortunate that with the advent of technology, we now have lots of apps available, some free, some with a small subscription fee. Type Meditation apps into Google and check out which ones suits you. Some are guided, some with music or sounds. All help take you to that brainwave and physical state.
In case you are concerned if it's religious... No it isn't. Meditation originated from the East yes and many Eastern belief systems have cultivated meditation practices but it doesn't need to have religious contents nor intentions. Prayer is you talking to God, Meditation is you being silent enough to hear God - if this resonates with your belief.
Finally, never underestimate the immense benefit of taking that time out to engage in your art of making Tea. Preparing your teawares, leaves, brewing, savouring - visual, aroma, taste... is simply a meditation in itself!