How To

How To Meditate To Improve Your Mental Health Effectively

yoga girl exercises on sunrise meditation in the autumn mountains

Your mental health decides pretty much how your life turns out. When you maintain a healthy mind, you make better decisions. Better decisions mean a better life.

Thankfully, you can improve this all-important aspect of your being through meditation.

 

What is Meditation?

It is the process of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for some time in the quest to feel inner peace and relaxation. This will help you overcome all the adverse health problems associated with stress, depression, anxiety, anger, and fear and hence improve your mental health. Also, meditation brings focused attention to the present moment without judgment and with self-compassion.

Many researchers over the years across the world have found and proven that depression can help you fight against negative emotions and feelings.

The JAMA Internal medicine, researchers in March 2014, published a review that shows that if meditation is carried out for eight-weeks at least a patient will experience reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The group reviewed 18,000 scientific studies centered on the relationship between meditation, depression, and anxiety.

Another group of researchers, Psychiatry Review in April 2018 published a journal that shows that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was carried out by generalized anxiety disorder patients where they learned many stress management strategies. The result shows the patients had lower stress-related inflammatory and hormonal levels than people who did not practice mindfulness.

 

Calm young woman meditating in sports clothing meditating while sitting in lotus position at home
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How To Start Meditating?

The first thing you need to start meditation is to prepare your mind and body to carry out the various techniques accurately. Most importantly, you should have the perseverance and endurance to filter your thoughts and to really sink in while meditating. The same concept applies to everything and that is no shortcut if you really want to succeed. Although the process might not be the easiest, if you’re dedicated and to really let go of your emotions, meditating is really just a piece of cake.

For starters, you don’t need a lot of need to start meditation. Just you and a handful of perseverance suffice. However, it’s best to get into a comfortable position.

  • Find a perfect spot to sit on

Whether it’s a cushion or a yoga mat. The key to meditation is to find a comfortable space and to stay focus. The last thing you want is a distraction.

  • A timer

Meditation has to do with devoting focus on the object of meditation; therefore stopping to check time is a distraction and hence the need for the timer which rings when the time reaches for a stop.

What Are The Best Meditation Techniques?

Experienced meditators and researchers agree on one basic fact, that is meditation helps improve and maintain mental and physical health.

However, they do not all agree on which meditation technique is the best and most effective. As we all know, each and every body reacts differently, and there are more than 100 meditation techniques covering practices from different cultures, traditions, religions, and spiritual disciplines. Hence, your individual preference will guide you on which meditation to choose as best or most effective. Below are some of the most universally accepted meditation techniques.

 

Guided vs Unguided Meditation

Guided-Meditation

This is the type of meditation for beginners who have no meditation experience. In this technique there is a teacher to guide his student on how to meditate and the various meditation practices, he can do this physically or via a mediation app. In this type of meditation, the teacher teaches you modus-operandi of the mind during meditation and guides you through a particular meditation technique, and finally, he explains how to link the meditation technique to your everyday routine.

Unguided-Meditation

Unlike its counterpart, unguided meditation is mostly practiced by those who have some experience in one or more meditation techniques and those who can maintain deep meditation on their own. Here you meditate alone and without a teacher explaining the process. It is also called Silent Meditation. For many practitioners, it involves simply sitting in a quiet place and paying attention to the mind and body for a set period of time. And for others, this technique involves using a particular technique they have acquired.

 

Meditating outdoor in Vipassana meditation technique
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Calming vs. Insight Meditation:

Calming Meditation

This meditating technique targets to create a more quiet and peaceful state of mind and tries to improve concentration. This technique has to do with you focusing your mind on a particular object and you always seek to return your mind to this object if along the way you get distracted. This object can be a sensation within your body, a visualization, your breath, and even a physical object.

Insight meditation

Also known as (Vipassana Meditation), insight meditation has to do with transforming your mind by developing qualities such as compassion and wisdom. Here you have to focus your breath and at the same time be conscious of all the physical and mental sensations that arise. It suggests that mediating outdoor with this technique works the best.

 

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Here you have to focus your mind, shut your eyes, and think about the person whom you love. Though this technique is quite straight forward, however, it can be categorized into Loving-Kindness receiving technique or love sending technique. In both situations, it can be someone is present or from the past. It could be someone who’s closely related to you, family, relatives, friends, teachers, or a mentor.

All you need is to image these love ones sending you the irreplaceable love and to feel the warmth, love, and appreciation. It’s vice versa if you’re sending love instead of receiving it. Send the kindest regards as supposed to how you would like to receive them.

 

Skillful Compassion Meditation

This technique is quite similar to a loving-kindness meditation technique, but here you have to focus on a person you love or know, and at the same time you have to pay attention to the sensations emanating from the heart. This will help you create a feeling of love and happiness in your own mind.

 

Resting Awareness

In this technique, you have to let your mind rest and you don’t have to focus on your breath or visualization; in this technique thoughts that enter do not distract you.

 

Reflection

Here you focus your mind on answering the question “What are you most thankful for?” Also, it is very vital you focus on the feelings, but not the thoughts, that arise when you reflect on the question.

 

Body Scan

This technique is set to synchronize your mind and body and stops your mind from being elsewhere when your body is doing a particular thing. Here you have to simply scan your entire body from head to toe just like a photocopying machine to note what is distracting your mind away from the present moment.

 

Focused Attention

It is a form of deep meditation and perhaps the most fairly straightforward meditation technique under this category in that it uses the object of our breath to focus attention. You simply have to re-focus on your breath each time your mind starts to wander.

 

Visualization

This meditation technique has to do with you focusing your mind to picture someone or something. Here you have to set a mental image as the object of focus instead of your breath. And so it is with meditation.

 

Ancient spiritual cleansing sound for meditation
Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

What Are The Ancient Meditation Techniques?

It should be noted that the following techniques have to be carried out under the guidance of an experienced teacher to get more effective results.

Zen Meditation

This ancient meditation technique has its origin from Buddhist it is targeted to create a sense of alertness and presence and it involves sitting upright and following the breath as it moves in and out of the stomach.

Mantra Meditation

It is quite similar to the technique ‘focused attention’ meditation (discussed above), but in this technique, you are required to focus on a mantra instead of focusing on the breath to quiet the mind.

Yoga Meditation

It is an extensive part of a meditation on its own. yoga has many styles some of which are Kundalini yoga and Shavasan.

Sound Bath Meditation

This type of meditation requires instruments such as gongs, bowls, and other ancient musical instruments to create sound vibrations that help you focus your mind and bring it into a state of peace and relaxation.

 

A bearded man is meditating outdoor in the park with face raised up to sky and eyes closed on sunny summer day meditating
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What Is The Best Time To Meditate?

The best time to meditate depends mostly on what you seek to get during or after the meditation exercise. However, apart from the deep meditation techniques discussed above which need to be carried out in a specified period, there are also some other mini-meditations which can be done anywhere and anytime. You just have to relax your body and calm your mind.

According to how to meditate experts all over the world these are the most generally accepted good times to meditate. First thing in the morning this will set the tone of your mind and body throughout the day. It is recommended you do your meditation before your breakfast.

  • Whenever you are stressed

It is recommended you do your meditation whenever you feel stressed and overwhelmed. On your launch time meditation at midday has some special health benefits. It is also a good way to free your mind and body of stress after a long meeting. Doing meditation at this time will help boost your creativity, focus, and productivity.

  • End of your workday

This is a very special way to inform your mind and body and enable them to distinguish between work and the rest of life. This will help you from keeping away work thoughts from hunting you during your free and resting time.

  • Right before bedtime

Care needs to be taken when meditating before bedtime in order not to put your mind and body into the confusion. It is recommended you keep an hour interval between meditation and bedtime.

 

What Is Walking Meditation?

Walking meditation, also known as kinhin is a type of meditation practice that focuses and sets the physical experience of walking as the object of meditation. Here you have to pay very keen attention to each step you take. It helps bring your body and mind in sync as you move about at a much slower speed than normal walks.

 

How to Carry Out Walking Meditation?

  • Choose your location

You may choose to do it in your backyard to avoid unnecessary stairs.

  • Length

This should be done for at least 15 minutes.

  • Walking Pace

Your steps should be slower and shorter than your usual walking steps. Slow walking will enable you to stay focused and relaxed.

  • Anchoring

You should spend some time standing on a spot before you start your walking meditation. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and bring your awareness to your body.

  • Re-focusing

It’s common that sometimes you may be distracted by some unwanted thoughts, try to regain focus by bringing your attention back to breathing and your walking.

 

Young man taking a break meditating on the floor
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What Is Spiritual Meditation?

Spiritual meditation is a particular type of meditation that has to do with connecting to something greater and deeper than yourself. This mindful practice cuts across all kinds of religions across the world.

Spiritual meditation is also a form of Guided Meditation in that you need a spiritual teacher who intends to guide you into the spiritual realm. It is sometimes related to acquiring superpowers to acquire knowledge of past lives, sometimes see visions of the future, and even to heal yourself and others.

 

How to obtain spiritual meditation?

Here are the 5 essential criteria you need to fulfill when doing spiritual meditation.

  • Release any grudges you have been held to free your mind.
  • Focus your spiritual aspirations on others.
  • Bring mindfulness into your faith.
  • Open your mind to new possibilities.
  • Be authentic.

 

What Is The Benefits of Meditation?

Although this question has been answered indirectly throughout this article, let’s still outline some of the benefits of daily meditation.

  • Improve your concentration, learning, and memory;
  • It increases the amount of grey matter in your brain;
  • Help you reduce stress, anxiety, and depression;
  • Meditation is said to increase your ability to handle new situations or information;
  • It has become a fact that people who meditate need less sleep;
  • It has been proven that meditation boost students’ test score;
  • You become more empathetic and compassionate toward others;
  • Help you find more emotional balance and helps your mind defragment.

 

It is very important to maintain and promote your well-being, and one way to do this is to maintain and promote mental health. Your mental health includes your psychology, emotions, and social well-being. It is important to note that poor mental health can have adverse consequences on how you feel, think, and act.

It may even lead to even more serious health disorders such as anxiety, depression that may lead to suicide if it goes beyond your control. Daily meditation practice is, by far, the best way to maintain and promote your physical and mental health. It does this by giving you a meditative mind.