Benefits of Meditation
by Diane Kathrine
Our thoughts are a catalyst to building feelings of anger, fear, sadness etc. Yet, what some don’t realize is we do have a choice over our thoughts, but only when one is in control of them.
A busy mind has one thought after another flowing through. It is said that the average person has about 35 thoughts a minute. Our thoughts can keep us up at night and wake us in the morning. They take over our mind when we are driving (how often have you got somewhere without remembering the journey?) and they stop us from seeing what is going on around us. They distract us from life.
Once a thought becomes attached to the emotions absorbed off others, you claim full ownership of them.
The best thing for stilling an overly busy mind and gaining control of your thoughts is some type of meditation.
There are many types of meditation you can try, that don’t always involve sitting on the floor in lotus position, and there will always be a type to suit the person: chanting, breath-work, visualization, trance etc.
You don’t have to stay indoors either, you can do a walking meditation, where you externalize your awareness and really focus on everything around you, e.g.: your feet on the grass as you walk or the trees and clouds in the sky above you.
When practiced with awareness, yoga is a moving meditation which unites body, mind and spirit and is a good option for those who do not like to sit still ;).
Unlike in relaxation, you don’t want to fall asleep in meditation. This is the time to control a busy mind; if you fall asleep, you lose that opportunity.
Our ego will always put up a fight to stay in control of the mind. When you first sit down to meditate, you will find that the world and his wife have taken up residence in your mind, all fighting to say their bit. This is entirely normal, albeit somewhat frustrating. This is just like turbulence on a plane, if you push through, you will climb above it and then all will become calm, smooth and serene.
A regular meditation practice is essential if you want to reap the full benefits because, as with anything in life, good things don’t happen overnight. Great things take time to develop.
Not only is meditation a must for gaining control of the mind, it is also anti-ageing, de-stressing to the body and an aid to sleep, especially when done in darkness.
Meditating in darkness is a precursor to the release of melatonin. Melatonin is known as the anti-ageing hormone and is produced by the pineal gland (area of third eye) in the darkness.
What Does Melatonin Do?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and helps prevent, and treat, many illnesses including cancer. Those suffering insomnia and with sleeping difficulties are thought to have a melatonin deficiency.
The immune system does most of its work at night and is believed to be interlinked with production of melatonin. When melatonin levels are suppressed, illness occurs.
As we age our melatonin production decreases. Scientists believe this reduction is interrelated to ageing and age-related disorders.
To produce more melatonin we need spend more time in complete darkness. However, these days there is so much light pollution that sleeping in darkness is not so easy to do anymore. Because of the street lights, even with the curtains closed, our bedrooms tend to stay on the light side. This will hinder the production of melatonin and lead to a less than restful night’s sleep.
Studies have shown that meditation, done in complete darkness, before bedtime increases production of melatonin and produces enough to last the night. This can be further aided by focusing on the third eye (center of forehead) during meditation; this will stimulate the pineal gland (melatonin producer) and allows the body to be filled with melatonin.
To begin a meditation practice it is best to plan a set time every day. Perhaps start with 10 minutes and then build to twenty or thirty. Having no distractions is important. If you think someone will walk in and disturb you, that’s all you’ll think about when you’re supposed to be meditating. If there is a lot of external noise, pop some earphones in and play some gentle music, or listen to a guided meditation… It’s all good…
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