There are thousands of spiritual meditation techniques which have evolved across the globe. Scientific research shows that some meditation techniques have many benefits, both in the short-term and the long-term.
Scientific results indicate that meditation alters your brain structure as well as your physical and mental well-being. Continue reading to discover more about meditation science.
The Science of Meditation
Neuroscience researchers have demonstrated that mindfulness meditation practices will increase the neural links between your amygdala and prefrontal cortex. This increases communication between both of these regions of the human brain. This helps you to react less to situations and help you recover from stress more quickly. Meditation re-wires your brain and it has many benefits for your brain and body as well as your heart and soul.
A research study at Harvard University has shown that meditation can affect your genes within minutes, even the first time you meditate. Meditation touches the genes which stabilise your DNA and which create a healthier body. The other short-term benefits of meditation include stress reduction and blood pressure lowering, and improved focus and intelligence. These benefits are felt each and every time you meditate.
Meditation experts have been shown to have more dense grey matter in the areas of the brain which are associated with emotions and memory. Also, a regular meditation practice can increase your mindfulness, empathy, and resilience. It also helps you to monitor and regulate your thoughts. This gives you more headroom to take a step back and be not so quick to judge. Also, some meditation techniques such as those based on joy and unconditional love, promotes your levels of kindness and compassion.
By meditating you are becoming intimate with your own mind. You start seeing the behaviour of your mind and how to stop your circumstances and environment affecting how you experience life. Recent findings in neuroscience show that regular daily meditation galvanises the neuroplasticity of your brain and brain circuits are rewired to elevate your holistic health.
Body Scanning and Healing
During a guided body scan meditation, you focus from head to toe on each individual body part. This type of guided meditation increases your body awareness, such as relaxing tense muscles and letting go of aches and pains. It also gives you a huge reduction in negative thoughts and lowers thinking about the past or future.
Focus on your body with eyes open or closed. Feel the weight of your body and take a few deep breaths. Breathe in more oxygen to power up the body by taking one or several deep breaths. Feel yourself relaxing more deeply each time you exhale. Then feel your feet and notice the sensations of weight and pressure, and vibration of your feet as they touch the floor.
Continue the guided meditation for every part of your body including your legs, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders, jaw, and facial muscles letting them all relax. Be aware of your whole body, take a breath, and open your eyes when you are ready to do so.
Observing Your Breath
When you focus on the sensations of your breath, without forcing your breathing, then this is breathing meditation. Breathing meditation is normally done seated but you can do it standing or lying down too. Relax your whole body and focus your entire attention on the sensation of your breathing. Begin by inhaling deeply through your nostrils for 3 seconds. Then hold your breath for 2 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for about 4 seconds. Rest your breath for 2 to 4 seconds before starting again.
The trick is to observe each breath without trying to adjust it. It may help to focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the subtle sensation of your breath entering and leaving your nostrils. Your mind may wander, or you may be distracted by your thoughts, feelings, or body sensations. Observe what is happening without judgement or thinking. Then gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Watching Your Thoughts
Observing your own thoughts is a meditation technique that is most effective in increasing your mindfulness and your awareness of your thoughts and feelings. You also have less judgment or discrimination toward others. Watch your thoughts and notice when your thoughts arise. You may remain detached from your thoughts, and you can label them as positive or negative, or whether a thought is about you or other people.
Spend about five to ten minutes each day to observe your thoughts and how that come and go. Begin by taking a few gentle deep breaths and shift your attention to your thinking. Notice how each of your thoughts arise and dissolve like clouds which float in the sky or visitors passing in and out of a room. Some thoughts you like, others you will not, and some you have no feeling for.
With all thoughts, greet them, briefly observe each one, and watch each of your visiting thoughts exit. Feel liberated by letting your thoughts naturally come and go without being hooked on any one thought. This may help with some addictions such as letting the thought of having a drink or a cigarette go this cutting the chain of craving.
Loving Kindness and Compassion
Meditating on loving-kindness will boost your feelings of love, warmth, and care for others. This spiritual meditation technique increases the vibrations of your thoughts about other people or of the world. With your eyes closed during the visualization, bring your awareness inward and open your heart.
Think of a person who loves you very much and picture them standing on your right side. That person is sending you their love and wishes for your safety, happiness, and well-being. Feel their warm wishes and love emanating from them towards you. Now recall another person who cherishes you deeply. Imagine that person standing on your left side, sending you wishes for your health and happiness. Feel their kindness and warmth emanating from them and coming to you.
Now imagine that you are surrounded by all the people who love you and have loved you. Picture all your friends and loved ones surrounding you. They are all sending you wishes for your happiness, well-being, and your health. Bathe in their love and feel their warm wishes from all directions. Feel your physical body and your light body being filled up until you are overflowing with love and joy. Then send your love out to each person in the group of people one at a time and together.
Expand your awareness until you see the entire planet Earth in front of you. Send warm wishes and energy healing to all living beings on the globe who also want to be happy. Breathe deeply in and out three times and let go. Notice how your mind feels before and after this meditation.
Meditation As a Toolkit
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute conducted a detailed study of 200+ adults who were new to meditation. The test subjects went through 9 months of training in the 4 mindfulness and guided meditation techniques that are described above.
Taken together, these and other studies suggest that if you are working on a specific issue then you can choose a practice and tailor a meditation. For example, if you feel disconnected from your body then you can choose a meditation technique, such as the body scan, that tackles that issue. Loving-kindness meditation may help build patience with difficult people, while watching your thoughts in meditation can help you stop overthinking and panic attacks.
Any meditation technique practised regularly can help you develop positivity, energy, and focus. Different meditations affect brain structure, stress, and social behaviour in different ways. Each meditation technique creates a unique mental environment. You can even draw up a prescription of meditations, with different techniques for physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual circumstances.
Experiment with Meditation
Try out different meditation techniques and frequencies and jot down how you feel before and after the practice. Discover what works best for you. You can meditate for any amount of time and whilst an hour may be too long for you, two shorter meditation sessions in the morning and evening may work better for you.
Take meditation to the next level with more advanced techniques or join a meditation group. Or you may be guided to do a Vipassana retreat or practice dragon breathing to discover intense breathwork. You can also access deeper meditation objects such as death or non-duality, or use meditation for your psychic development, or use meditation as a gateway for journeying to other realities and other worlds.
Dive deeper into your spiritual journey and experiment with many more meditation techniques with our meditation library and begin your voyage into the seas of your soul.
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