Meditation is the practice by which, through certain techniques and rules, an individual is able to exercise his concentration, his ability to control the mind, as well as to facilitate a calm emotional state, thus exercising the skills of emotional control.
Meditative practices have an extensive historyIt dates back to its probable origin in ancient India, within the Hindu tradition. From there, it spread especially throughout Asia, usually accompanying religions such as Buddhism. Today, the scientific community has proven several of the health benefits of meditation.
In this article we will talk to you about different types of meditation, as well as what the benefits of this practice are.
What is meditation?
Nowadays it is fashionable to meditate. This makes it much more accessible to start in this type of practices so beneficial to physical and mental health that they are even being adopted in therapeutic circles (such as therapies based on Mindfulness).
There is no single form of meditationand the benefits of each are not exactly the same. Depending on our objective at the time of meditating, it is probable that some type of practice exists that attracts our attention more, be for comfort, familiarity, sociological context or even spiritual.
Benefits of meditation
For a long time, meditation has been regarded by many skeptics as an exercise of very limited usefulness, a vestige of past religious and ceremonial practices. Luckily, the scientific community is correcting the general view that we have about meditation, which opens the door for this type of beneficial practice to reach a greater number of people.
Between the multiple benefits of meditation proven by science, we can stand out:
1. Stress reduction
It has been scientifically proven that meditation is able to reduce the inflammatory response to stress and the high levels of cortisol it generates, aggravating many inflammatory processes.
Considering the harmful effects of constant stress on our lives, such as poorer cardiovascular health, poorer cognitive ability or the greater likelihood of developing disorders such as depression or anxiety, meditation becomes a very useful tool for maintaining our physical health at 100%.
2. Improvement of the emotional state
Some disorders, such as those related to anxiety (such as phobias, social anxiety, obsessive behaviors…) are significantly relieved in those who practice meditation on a regular basis.
In addition, meditation exercises, such as Mindfulness, are effective in decreasing the intensity of depressive feelings. In addition, some types of meditation promote a high and positive emotional state, such as “Metta” meditation.
3. Improves memory and attention span
Memory Loss Linked to Aging Stopped in those who practice meditation. This is especially true for those types of meditation that involve repetitive practice, such as repetition of a mantra or hand postures.
In the elderly as well as in the young, the capacity for attention is substantially increased in those who performed the meditation in their daily lives. This, at the work level translates into being able to work at a higher level of concentration for longer.
4. Helps relieve pain
By means of functional analysis of cerebral magnetic resonances (fMRI), it was possible to discern that those people who had spent a few days practicing mindfulness techniques had a greater brain activity in areas related to pain control.
The patients themselves stated during the study that they had a diminished sensation of pain. Meditation can also help reduce the pain caused by some chronic illnesses.
5. May lower blood pressure
High blood pressure can be a serious health problem. Over time, it contributes to cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis. Meditation is effective in lowering blood pressure by an average of five points.
These effects were observed not only during the meditationbut also extended in time especially in those people who meditate regularly.
8 common types of meditation
Given the age of this practice and its subjective character, there are so many different ways of meditating. In this article we mention some of the best known today, but the types of meditation can be countless, depending on their origins, objectives and methodology.
Meditation of the type Vipassana is of Buddhist origin.. Vipassana means, in Pali language, something like clear vision. In the West, this type of meditation has become an integral part of the practices known simply as “Mindfulness”.
This English word means something like “full attention”, referring to the fact that during these meditative practices full attention is paid to the breath, especially in the early stages of the meditative process.
2. Zazen (Zen)
The Buddhist tradition of Zen meditation is well known. Zazen is a Japanese word meaning “seated meditation” or “seated Zen”. Its roots come from the Chinese version of Zen Buddhism, the so-called Chan Buddhism.
This meditation is characterized by the attention paid to the breath, but also on the practice of meditation. “Shinkantaza,” the ability to simply observe reality without making judgments. or thought about this one. Live in the moment as much as possible.
Metta meditation is also well known in the West, in part for its his influence on the Mindfulness movement.. Metta is a word that means kindness, kindness or goodwill. In English it is also known as “Loving Kindness Meditation”, in Spanish it has been named in many different ways, such as “meditation of benevolent love”.
This type of meditation helps to improve the empathic capacity of those who practice it, as well as to improve the general state of mind and the perception of oneself.
Mantras are vocalizationsusually without a particular meaning, used primarily to focus the attention of the mind. Meditation with mantras sometimes requires very precise vocal and postural control.
They are used in various monastic traditions, such as Hindu, Buddhist or Taoist culture. It is sometimes known as “om meditation”, but the “om” is simply one of the mantras that can be used.
Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation that uses mantras, popularized by Yogi Maharishi Mahesh through celebrities of the moment, such as the famous pop-rock band “The Beatles”, for whom he was a guru.
This type of meditation is now widely practiced in the West, but unlike other types of meditation, you will hardly find anyone who can teach you this for free.
6. Yogic Meditation
Meditation used in the field of yoga can be classified as “yogic meditation,” but there are an enormous number of types of meditation included within this term. The tradition of Yoga has very ancient roots, between 2500 and 4000 years old.
Within the classical practice of Yoga, meditation forms a basic pillarand the rules of behaviour, physical postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama). One of the most popular types of meditation within Yoga is the “meditation of the third eye”, where it is necessary to focus our attention on the point between our eyebrows, to silence the mind.
This type of meditation, known as self-enquiry meditation, was popularized in the West by Ramana Maharshi in the 20th century. The main objective of this type of meditation is to gain knowledge about oneself.
There are several Taoist meditation practices, which are linked to the philosophy and principles of the Taoist religion. Its goal is to improve health as much as possible, to achieve a long life. This type of meditation usually has an important component of visualization of the body itself and its mechanisms, such as breathing.
- Chételat, G., Lutz, A., Arenaza-Urquijo, E., Collette, F., Klimecki, O., & Marchant, N. (2018). Why could meditation practice help promote mental health and well-being in aging? Alzheimer’s research & therapy, 10(1), 57. doi:10.1186/s13195-018-0388-5.
- Sharma H. (2015). Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu, 36(3), 233-237. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.182756.
- Jain, F. A., Walsh, R. N., Eisendrath, S. J., Christensen, S., & Rael Cahn, B. (2015). Critical analysis of the efficacy of meditation therapies for acute and subacute phase treatment of depressive disorders: a systematic review. Psychosomatics, 56(2), 140-152. doi:10.1016/j.psym.2014.10.007.
- Khalsa, D. (2015). Stress, Meditation, and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention: Where The Evidence Stands. Journal Of Alzheimer’s Disease, 48(1), 1-12. doi:10.3233/jad-142766.