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Meditation is the modern way of keeping your mind and emotions in check.
Recent studies have shown evidence that it improves anxiety, depression, pain, and even high blood pressure.
In light of what’s happening in the world right now, facing a pandemic that is COVID-19, one cannot help but be anxious about what’s going to happen next. This anxiety may lead to spiked blood pressure, disturbances in sleep, and increased anxiety attacks.
In this article, we are going to provide some meditation practices you can do at home that may help you become and stay healthy.
Note that this is not a medical treatment plan, just a few suggestions that may help control the brain’s response to pain and support your immune system.
What is meditation?
Some meditation practices use breathing exercises while focusing on a sound, voice, or mantra.
These exercises regulate your breathing and your blood pressure, helping you wash away your stress and worries instantly. Think of it as a mini-retreat.
Meditation practices greatly help someone who has mild to severe anxiety by providing a method for handling stress in a healthier way.
If you want to find out more about meditation you can refer to our handout here.
Meditation benefits for your health
Meditation can be used to:
- Help alleviate symptoms from cancer and treatment side effects
- Increase the brain’s ability to process new information
- Slow aging effects on the brain
- Reduce swelling
- Boost the immune system
- Minimize menopause symptoms
- Teach the brain to control pain
- Improve sleep
- Reduce blood pressure
How safe if meditation?
Meditation is safe for healthy people. However, if you have physical limitations, you may not be able to participate in certain meditative practices that involve a lot of movement.
What are the meditation practices that boost health?
There are many different types of meditation, and we’re going to explain each one of them so you can choose which one works for you.
Maitrī/compassion (Metta or loving-kindness)
According to a study, Loving Kindness Meditation may be beneficial for chronic pain and borderline personality disorder. However, the evidence is not enough to confirm these promising effects.
But even so, it’s a safe practice that helps you be calm. Therefore, for many, it is worth the time and effort.
The idea is sending well wishes and positive thoughts to yourself and others.
You can start by chanting phrases that start with “May I be…(your wish for yourself)” “May they be (your wish)…” “May the world be (your wish for the world)…”
There is free guidance Loving Kindness Meditation online.
Vipassana is the practice of sustained close attention to the sensations of your body. The purpose is to create awareness deep within and see the true nature of existence.
This practice was taught by Buddha himself. It is a Buddhist meditation practiced in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.
It is a form of mindfulness meditation that helps you become present at the moment.
It’s as simple as setting a timer, sitting comfortably, and closing your eyes while paying attention to your breathing and the sensations that you feel.
- Mantra, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR),
MBSR is a combined technique using mindfulness meditation, yoga, and body awareness. It is an 8-week, group program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979.
It is one type of meditation where you really have to commit time and money.
But if you want to do it at home, here are some of the partial steps:
- Choose a physical exercise that seems easy for you that relieves stress.
- Write a mantra(s) which you will recite daily for 5-10 minutes while seated with your eyes closed.
- Do daily meditations focusing on your emotions. You will name them while comfortably seated with your eyes closed (similar to step 2). For example, fear, rejection, pain, loss…
- Teach yourself how to practice self-control. By getting your favorite guilty pleasure (for example, your favorite food) and placing it in front of you without touching it.
Observe your body’s sensation and focus only on those reactions. These reactions will come to a peak, you may salivate, your heart racing, and they will subside. This will teach you how to become aware and not controlled by your emotions, especially your fears.
Relaxation meditation promotes calm by using an object of focus. It could be your breath or a visualization. This is done in 7 steps:
- Take deep slow breathes
- Focus on each breath
- Acknowledge your senses
- Perform a body scan observing tension or discomfort in each body part
- Increase awareness by noticing thoughts and emotions without judgment
- Bring your attention back to your breath
- Sit still for 20-30 seconds
In my opinion, this is by far the best type of mediation to conquer stress or a panic attack.
This is a technique or a form of silent mantra meditation developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
It involves the use of a mantra and is done for 20 minutes twice per day while seated with eyes closed.
You take deep breaths and recite the mantra in your mind.
It allows your mind to focus within, paying attention to active thoughts or sensations while not allowing them to interfere.
It is normal for your mind to wander and, with practice, you can prevent it from wandering.
There’s also Tai Chi, Yoga and Qi Gong which involves physical movements and are also beneficial to one’s health. We will likely discuss this in another article.
A healthier body is a result of eating clean, sleeping well, drinking lots of water, managing stress, and fatigue, and regular exercise.
While meditation is an excellent way to control stress, this should not replace medication or treatment.
As mentioned above, there are studies that prove that meditation is beneficial or your health.