Meditation isn’t just for Buddhists, and it isn’t just for once-a-year retreats. Like exercise, meditation, if a regular habit, is literally “good for you.” Numerous peer-reviewed medical and psychology studies can’t be wrong. There are at least 20 benefits relating to health alone.(For an in-depth feature on the 10 top researched and peer-review benefits of meditation, see this BW feature>>) Please feel free to use and download the wonderful instructional info graphic below. With this information it’s easy to discover the best type of meditation for you. (Graphic courtesy of Woodside Health and Tennis Club.)
The trick is finding the right type of meditation for you. Some people have monkey minds (busy brains) and can benefit from mindfulness focus on the breath, for example. Others, such as creative or visual people, tune into visualized meditation. Meditation can even be “in motion” as with Tai Chi or Chi Gong (Qi Gong). Meditation has been practiced for many centuries, even before the time of the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Done well and done right, it brings calm and awareness to the mind and health benefits to the body. It also helps to reduce stress and improve mindfulness, which in turn can help to reduce a variety of symptoms, from depression to inflammation.
According to the graphic (and supported by research we have sourced at Buddha Weekly), meditation can benefit you in these ways:
- reduce anxiety
- reduce depression
- enhance immune function
- improve stress reactivity
- diminish cravings
- reduce pain
- diminish inflammation
- increase levels of melatonin and serotonin
- improve quality of life for people suffering from chronic pain
- supports cognitive performance.
Four types of focus in meditation
You don’t need formal instruction to begin meditation — unless you’re undertaking advanced Vajrayana or tantric visualization meditations. You need the will, a focal point, and a comfortable position. You can focus on an image or repeat a saying, or mantra, to yourself over and over again. And once you figure out what the basics are, you can pursue different types of meditation that has different goals.
The poster goes on to instruct in the basics, including what our focus should be:
- a specific object (such as a candle)
- a visualized image (for example, a Buddha visualization)
- sound mantra (and also prayer).
The beautiful graphic also describes the three main poses for comfortable meditation: sitting, walking and lying down. It instructs in mindfulness meditation method, mantra meditation, and guided image meditation (at a basic level, but with lovely illustrations.) The poster also discusses the benefits of more active meditations:
- Kundalini meditation
- Qi Gong
- Tai Chi.
This lovely poster distils the benefits and basic instructions in several types of meditation. We know it’s good for us. So, the only thing remain is to get out (or stay in) and meditate — daily.
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Author | Buddha Weekly
Dave Lang contributes to several online magazines. He is Buddhist, more or less a "Chan Buddhist" — and his special bow goes to Bodhidharma, his Dharma Hero. He is also an avid martial artist.