is about detaching from the world around you
and reaching a state of deep relaxation and
increased mental clarity. Depending on the
context it is described in many ways, for
example meditation could be a condition in
which the mind focuses on a thought or an
image, or an open receptiveness to whatever
enters the mind, or a state of relaxed
awareness, or a state in which the mind is
“empty”. Meditation has been proven to be very
beneficial in reversing the effects of stress.
In some people the “flight or fight” response
(increased adrenalin, blood pressure, heart
rate, muscle tension, and shallow breathing)
occurs not only when they are faced with real
danger but also when they are faced with any
situation they deem to be stressful.
In its extreme form this might be
an anxiety disorder. Meditation reverses this
process and people who practice meditation
regularly can shift into a meditative state at
will, and hence deal with stress really well.
There are many techniques that can be used to
achieve a meditative state, although it takes
practice to be able to do it for a longer than
a few minutes. The person meditating must always
start in a comfortable position with good posture,
in a warm environment, and wearing loose clothes.
Examples of techniques that then may be used are:
- Mantra meditation, repeating a word or phrase
continually, perhaps using rosary beads or a
Tibetan prayer wheel. “Om” is considered by
Hindus to be the most sacred mantra, and is
defined as the original sound of the universe.
- Breath awareness meditation where the person
meditating focuses on their breathing, perhaps
inwardly counting or using peaceful words on
the in and/or out breath.
- Entering a state of mindfulness where you
are completely aware of but detached from everything
you are experiencing.
- Active meditation that involves performing
a rhythmic activity that allows the mind to
focus on achieving a meditative state, such
as walking, t’ai chi, and swimming.
- Object meditation that involves concentrating
on a specific object such as flowers, a candle,
a portrait, and feeling its presence, shape,
many ways to teach yourself to meditate,
however the easiest way is to go to classes,
or consult with a teacher one-to-one. There
are also books, videos, dvds, and cds that
are very helpful. 15-20 minutes is a common
session length to aim for.
Examples of conditions where
meditation can be useful are:
- Stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression,
- Headaches and migraines.
- High blood pressure.
- Long-term pain.
- Enhancing the immune system.
- Personal development.
The following meditation books
are recommended as good places to start the journey
into meditation and are all available (via the
links) in association with Amazon.co.uk:
Guided Meditation CD by Bodhipaksa
Meditation for Dummies by Stephen Bodian
Insight Meditation Kit Audiobook by Joseph Goldstein
and Sharon Salzburg
Full Catastrophe Living: How to Cope with Stress,
Pain and Illness Using Mindfulness Meditation
by Jon Kabat-Zin
See our full range of Holistic
Therapy books in the Further Exploration