A silent monk sitting cross-legged on a hillside far above the humdrum and buzz of everyday life—is that what you think of when someone says “meditation?” If so, you may be surprised to know that meditating doesn’t mean that you have to wear robes or change religions. Anyone can meditate…and everyone can benefit from meditation.
A quick search of health-related websites shows that meditation can greatly improve your emotional and mental health. It’s been endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation as a way to boost one’s general wellbeing. NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recommends mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as a treatment for those who are recovering from depression. It’s helpful for treating anxiety, as well as for dealing with high levels of stress.
Meditation is good for your physical wellbeing, as well. Cancer Research UK has found that regular meditation can help cancer patients deal with issues such as pain, insomnia, fatigue, and nausea. You can find a slew of websites talking about the wide range of physical benefits that meditation provides. It lowers blood pressure. It can also help reduce atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Women who suffer from extreme premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can benefit greatly from meditation for so many of the reasons mentioned above—it helps reduce stress levels, lessen anxiety, and also helps with pain.
The nice thing about meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere. You can meditate in your bedroom before going to bed at night, in your garden before the day gets started, on a train on the way to work, as well as in a quiet space at your office during the workday. All you need is a few moments to be able to clear your mind, allowing your thoughts to float away while you focus on your breath.
Some people don’t have the time to sit down and meditate, or perhaps they find this kind of focused meditation too hard. If so, a walking meditation may be appropriate. Find a nice park near your home or work place. Now, simply walk and breathe. As you walk, notice the way your body feels. Pay attention to how your feet feel as they rise and fall from the ground. Feel your clothing and the breeze as it brushes past your skin. Feel your breath rise and fall. As you notice these things, allow your thoughts to simply come and go without judging them.
Other meditation techniques and information is available on the NHS website.