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World Meditation Day | May 21st

We would like to introduce you to World Meditation Day!  May 21st marks a day organized to bring awareness to the benefits of meditation around the world. Organizers are lobbying for the official implementation of World Meditation Day, but despite the lack of official status of the day, support for the movement has grown.

Stress and daily problems can create a lot of pressure on people, and despite the fact that many smaller stressors may seem insignificant, they add up to big problems. This build-up effect can cause our overall wellbeing to suffer. Reducing that stress becomes critical for a person’s physical and mental health. Because of the negative effects of stress, organizers of World Meditation Day seek to bring attention and awareness to ways that people can reduce that pressure, maintaining a healthy physical and psychological lifestyle.

World Meditation Day | May 21st

What is meditation, and how does it help us?

Let’s be honest, when we think of meditation, we think of someone sitting cross-legged and chanting, “Ohm.” That stereotype isn’t all-encompassing, though.

Meditation is simply an action that makes one focus on what is going on in the present moment by purifying the mind. Sitting in a certain manner, or chanting a specific word, are simply tools used to focus the attention within, but neither tool is necessary to meditate. Meditation can be everything done with a concentrated action. Because we are unique human beings, we all may have different methods and tools of meditating. The point is to be acting mindfully in the present moment.

Meditation has a long history around the world. We can see depictions of meditation in the Vedas written around 1500 BCE in India. However, if you look further back in India’s wall art, we can see pictures of people in a meditative position with half-closed eyes around 5000 BCE. Perhaps that is where we get the stereotype of the cross-legged meditator.

For some religions, meditation is an important aspect of worship. This association is likely where we get the idea that meditation is a religious practice. In today’s world, however, meditative practices have expanded far beyond the ideological confines of religion. Meditation has evolved into an activity that can be done for the sole purpose of relaxation and stress relief, easing the daily burden of our hectic lives, and bringing mindfulness into the present moment.

Benefits of Meditation

Benefits of Meditation

The benefits of meditation have been widely researched since the practice gained popularity. While research on the extensive benefits continues, here’s three established facts about meditation:

1. Meditation reduces stress. When used with concentrated breathing exercises, meditation can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. That’s a win-win for your mind and body.

2. Meditation helps with anxiety and panic disorders. Focusing on one’s heart rate and breathing brings attention to the present moment. A person utilizing meditation techniques can find that, over time, they adopt those mindfulness techniques into normal practice, thereby reducing their anxiety levels.

3. Meditation increases productivity. Some employers have started integrating meditation into the workplace, inviting employees to take some time in their workday to meditate. Since meditation hones the ability to focus, employers see that ability translated into increased productivity.

How can I start meditating?

What’s really amazing about meditation is that it can be practiced by anyone, so don’t stress out over how to start. You don’t have to sit cross-legged if you don’t want to. You can do meditation while you lay down, sit, shower, or even walking down the street. There are tons of different techniques for meditation, but we brought you the five basic steps of simple meditation.

1. Sit upright with a long spine, cross-legged, or in a chair. If you are not comfortable sitting upright, laying down is completely ok.

2. Allow your eyelids to relax and be heavy.

3. Focus on your breathing, concentrating each time you inhale and exhale. This will help draw your attention to within.

4. You may find your thoughts drifting to different things while you meditate, and that’s ok! Just acknowledge the thought, and refocus your attention on your breathing cycle.

5. Meditation is completely customizable to you, so you can practice it for 5 minutes or an hour. You’ll start noticing that you feel more calm and peaceful.

Join in on celebrating World Meditation Day!

Join in on celebrating World Meditation Day!

This year, May 21st could be a great day for you to try meditation. Just find someplace where you can relax and be comfortable. You could light some candles, playing calming music, or light incense to create a soothing atmosphere that encourages meditation. If you’re someone who has difficulty sitting still for a period of time, try exercising before you meditate! Yoga, walking, running, or any other exercise is a great way to help you focus on meditation.

If you’re curious about other techniques, there are meditation apps or guided meditation videos on YouTube, which are helpful resources. However, you choose to meditate, join us in celebrating World Meditation Day by creating your own meditation journey. 

 

Related: Meditation For a Good Night Sleep

 

Meditation For a Good Night Sleep

Some people keep a very strict diet for a healthy life, and some exercise daily, but only a few of us spend as much time focused on a good and healthy night of sleep. A good night’s sleep is very significant for our health and wellbeing. It keeps you healthy while building the body’s defenses against infections. Moreover, a good night’s sleep makes you more energetic and happy, as well. Therefore, having a quality night’s sleep becomes very important. Meditation for sleep can be a great option.

It may be difficult to get good and wakeless sleep as we get older. On the other hand, problems in life, such as anxiety, stress, depression, or even a huge workload, may cause a sleep disorder. It may be very difficult to get a good night’s sleep while struggling with many problems. Sleeping problems may lead to insomnia symptoms related to those stress factors that cause anxiety and tension. Furthermore, it is found that serious illnesses, like obesity and cardiovascular diseases, are very much related to the quality of our sleep cycle.

Meditation For a Good Night Sleep

In these situations, meditation is an effective option for a good night’s sleep. It is obvious that meditation may help us to reduce the impact of daily stressors. Meditation designed for sleep may decrease stress levels in the body and prevent problems, like insomnia and stress-related anxiety and tension, by building inner peace. While it reduces the risk of having serious physical problems, it also helps us to be healthy psychologically, which is definitely related to sleep quality.

How Does Meditation for Sleep Help Us?

Basic meditation techniques are grounded in the idea of training oneself to be more aware of the present moment. In our daily lives, we are mostly in our heads, thinking about the past and planning for the future. Thoughts come and go, and we cannot even recognize our breath cycles. Also, most of us hold our breath while we are in a workload.  This situation may increase in bedtime. Thoughts come and go, and it becomes harder to fall asleep.

Meditation helps us to recognize our breathing and to be aware of the present moment, teaching us to be conscious of what is going on right now in both our body and mind. It offers us healthier sleep by teaching to get rid of the thoughts of the day and enables us to rest the entire self. Furthermore, meditation for sleep is more specific and easy to follow. There are many options for those who don’t know how to practice meditation on their own.

In addition to the psychological benefits of meditation, a variety of physiological changes occur.

In daily life, we mostly activate our sympathetic nervous system, which creates the fight-or-flight response in our body. That’s why anxiety and stress levels in the body may increase. Meditation helps to activate parasympathetic nervous systems, which helps the body to lower the heart rate and slow the breathing. This leads us to have a more restful night’s sleep, as well.

Moreover, research shows that mindfulness-based meditation practices help older adults to overcome sleeping issues. When meditation is used as a relaxation technique, it is useful in the treatment of insomnia, builds sleep hygiene, and helps to facilitate falling back to sleep.

Meditation for sleep may decrease the risk of heart disease, obesity, and other chronic illnesses if it is practiced regularly. Although these are serious problems, if we set up a good and healthy sleeping ritual, we can not only help prevent these problems, but meditation may improve some cognitive functions, such as focus and decision making. By building mental clarity, it makes us produce more melatonin and serotonin (hormones of sleep and happiness).

Meditation Techniques for Better Sleep

Although it may seem complex if you’ve never tried sleep meditation, there are tons of techniques for meditation, from simple to complex. Here are some of the basic meditation types that can be used before falling asleep.

1. Guided Meditation

If you’ve never meditated before, guided meditation for sleep can be the best option for you to try. Guided meditations are easy to follow and let yourself go from thoughts. It is led by an experienced practitioner and walks the listener through each step of meditation. The guidance instructs you when to breathe and what to visualize. In most guided meditations for sleep, you lay down on your bed. To practice guided meditation for sleep, you can use meditation apps like Insighttimer, podcasts on Spotify, or Youtube videos. The rest is simple:

  • Lay down on your bed.
  • Slow your breathing and relax.
  • Start to listen and focus on the guidance.

2. Shamatha Meditation

Shamatha meditation can be described as a mindful concentration. It stabilizes the mind and creates awareness by using the breath as an object to be focused on.

The basic principle of shamatha meditation is to allow one to experience the mind extrajudicially, as it is. One can recognize when the mind is full of thoughts and learn to accept it naturally by using shamatha meditation. That’s why it can also be practiced as a meditation for sleep before going to bed.

Here are the steps of shamatha meditation:

The shamatha meditation technique is practiced when the spine is vertical. That’s why you should first sit cross-legged or on a chair, sitting straight up in a quiet area.

  • Put a pillow underneath your hips to continue to sit upright through the practice.
  • You can choose to position your hands in your lap or on your knees.
  • Relax your shoulders and jaw and lower the chin a little bit, bringing it close to the chest.
  • The eyes can be closed, slightly open, or focused on one point.
  • Bring your awareness to your breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation.
  • If any thought arises, don’t judge yourself. Just recognize the thought, let go, and return to your breathing again.
  • Keep following your breathing and refocus each time you are distracted by something.
  • Continue to practice for a minimum of 3-5 minutes before going to bed. Slowly increase it to 10 to 15 minutes.

Meditation For a Good Night Sleep

3. Body Scan Meditation For Better Sleep

Body scan meditations take more time, approximately 30-40 minutes. It is basically grounded on scanning each part of the body. When you focus on each part of the body, you can learn how to bring your full attention to the present moment. The main idea of the body scan meditation is to be aware of both pleasant and unpleasant feelings in the body and accept them as they are.

If you don’t know how to practice a body scan meditation, you can be guided through it. There are many guided body scan meditations on different platforms. Otherwise, you can follow the instructions below.

  • If you are using body scan meditation for sleep, you can lay down on your bed. It is better to close your eyes to focus your attention.
  • Bring your awareness first to your breath and notice the pressure between your body and the bed you are on. Just scan the feelings on your back or a part of the body that you want to investigate.
  • You don’t need to start from head to toe while scanning, but it can be easier to identify problem areas and add more focus if you follow this way.
  • You may feel differences in temperature, pressure, tightness, or some other feelings. Be gentle and just notice without judgment.
  • Take time and go slowly without holding your breath. If you are interrupted by any kind of thought or judgment, just acknowledge them and go back to scanning.
  • When you finish noticing all of the feelings in your body, just take a deep breath, let everything go and relax.
  • You are ready to have great sleep.

Meditation For a Good Night Sleep

4. Concentration Meditation

Concentration, of course, is the basic principle of any kind of meditation. In this type of concentration, however, you choose a specific object or thing to focus on. Having a focus point may be very useful to quiet the mind and relax more easily. This object may be a candle or a mantra.

·    If you choose a physical object, rather than focusing on an abstract thing, focus on something in front of you. Try to find something about three feet up from the ground.

·     Sit upright comfortably and focus your gaze toward the object.

·    You may choose to close your eyes a bit and stay concentrated while you are breathing in and out.

If you’d rather choose a mantra to concentrate on, you have many options, but you don’t need to chant a specific one. You can choose words that may make you feel more relaxed or comfortable for that day, such as ‘I am safe’.

After that, whether you lay down or sit upright, start to repeat the mantra out loud for 3-5 minutes.

In conclusion, we all have different daily life problems and most of us have sleeping issues from time to time, whether we are young or old. Meditation before bed is one of the best options to keep our wellbeing up by creating a healthy and restful night’s sleep. We all should keep in mind that there are thousands of options to meditate, and no matter which type of meditation for sleep you choose, meditation can be a healthy and helpful addition to your routine.

Related: Resistance to Bedtime