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The Various Forms And Benefits Of Meditation

Americans are among the most overworked people in the industrialized world. They also take fewer vacations, which is no wonder that they are one of the most over stressed people on Earth. Unfortunately, they also have an improper way of dealing with the anxiety and pressure they encounter in their daily lives. They also drink too much and eat too much and pretend they’re in control. But nothing could be further from the truth.

A Drugged-Out Society

More and more Americans are relying on prescription medications in an effort to deal with unease and agitation. Drugs such as Cymbalta, Paxil, and Zoloft have become household words, with the US each year, spending tens of billions of dollars on medications designed to address depression and anxiety. But as with all prescription drugs, these highly touted mood-altering medications come with a laundry list of harmful side effects, from insomnia and nausea to sexual dysfunction and fatigue. There ought to be a better way.


Amidst this doom and gloom, a recent rediscovery has been made of a multi-millennial type of stress relief. Meditation has been an essential part of human history for ages regardless if it’s used for emotional healing or spiritual enlightenment. While its roots have been traced back to Asia, meditation has been found to be a universal type of activity that cultures the world over has been practicing for ages. Having said that, this practice is unfortunately not widely used in the West, where it has been struggling to gain acceptance mainstream… that is, until recently.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey in 2007, some type of meditation is being practiced by almost ten percent of American adults, this increased from just eight percent in 2002. Because of this, the number of medical centers and yoga schools that have opened their doors to the over 20-plus million Americans who practice meditation on a regular basis have steadily grown.

Research findings

While Western medicine has been debating the benefits of meditation for quite a while, in recent years, it has been forced to reevaluate its position as empirical proof of the usefulness of meditation has come to light. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University performed a study that found meditation to be effective in alleviating moderate depression, pain, and anxiety in some patients. A different study observed a 10 to 20 percent positive change in depression symptoms for people who meditated on a regular basis. These numbers are the same as the positive effects of antidepressants albeit with significantly less side effects!

Meditation – What is it?

People in the West, have only an unclear notion what meditation is all about. They may understand that in order to enhance awareness of the current moment entails intense concentration of a movement, object, sound, etc. Some people think that meditation is simply made up of shutting the world out and clearing the mind. Actually both these viewpoints are correct. Meditation may also entail almost no thinking at all or profound thinking. To meditate, people commonly use the following techniques:

Mindfulness Meditation

Instead of endeavoring to free ourselves from our current situation or even from ourselves, this kind of meditation technique allows is to raise our consciousness by living in the moment. One focuses on what they experience during a session of mindfulness meditation. This focus can be on their emotions, passing thoughts, or their breathing. However, instead of lingering on the details of the object they’re focusing on, they allow them to pass without judgment.

Guided Meditation

This technique is also known as guided imagery or visualization. Guided meditation is a popular meditation method that entails meditating on relaxing mental images of situations and places. Practitioners include as many of their senses as they can, including textures, sounds, aromas, and sights of relaxing environments and objects. Since it takes time to conjure up a relaxing mental image, beginners may require expert instruction from a guide or instructor.

Tai chi

To attain relaxation via meditation, perhaps the most active way is through tai chi. This technique is a Chinese martial art that’s delicate and gentle and made up of a set of graceful slow motions that are done whilst performing deep breathing methods. It is also widely known as moving meditation and fosters both mental and physical relaxation. This very popular Chinese pastime has also been proven to improve focus and concentration for people suffering from anxiety disorders.


While in most techniques and exercises of yoga, meditation may not be the focus of the discipline, it still is an important component in yoga. Students and yogis use meditation in their breathing exercises as well as in their poses and stretches to develop calm minds and more flexible bodies. Concentration and balance is attained when we shut out the world and focus on the moment for awhile. For those very reasons, people who have mastered simple meditation techniques often more rapidly move forward in their yoga training.

Common features

Meditation is basically is an umbrella term that denotes any form of focused activity that helps generate a state of profound relaxation. And although there are different ways of getting there, all forms of meditation possess the following aspects:

Deep breathing

Just by simply taking slow deep breaths from your stomach can be the most effective and simplest ways to relax. It lessens the movement of your upper chest, shoulder, and neck by shifting your breathing to the diaphragm, where it rightly belongs. This form of deep breathing allows the lungs take in more oxygen, causing a relaxing effect on the mind and body.

Focused attention

An essential part of meditation, focusing your mind on an activity, image, or sound can aid in clearing your mind. This can lead to a profound state of relaxation.

A comfortable position

Certain forms of meditation are a bit strict about body positioning, while others are more casual. Adopt a comfortable position when practicing by yourself. This will help you get the most out of your meditation.

A quiet environment

It helps to be in a silent setting with few distractions if your main objective is to quiet the mind. We highly recommend, for obvious reasons, to set aside your electronic devices (including TVs, computers, cell phones, etc.) from these areas.

The benefits of meditation

You can attain inner peace by doing any of those aforementioned techniques. This state of repose and calm has beneficial effects that go far beyond anxiety and stress relief. People who meditate on a regular basis experience these various health benefits:

• Lesser minor illnesses and colds
• Enhanced memory
• Increase in energy
• Lesser muscle tension
• Better sleep
• Enhanced mental focus and concentration
• Improved stress management skills
• Reduced feelings of anxiety and fear
• Decrease of negative emotions
• Lower blood pressure

Daily meditation

One of meditation most appealing aspects is that you can practice it anywhere – on the road, at work, or at home. But in order to derive the best possible results, we advise you to perform it every day to improve your emotional and physical wellbeing. Having said that, the following are some basic ways one can perform meditation on their own.

Breathing – Inhaling and exhaling in a controlled and slow manner whether it lasts 10 minutes or two hours, can foster healthy sleep and help alleviate anxiety and stress.

Walk and meditate – An effective and healthy way to relax and cleanse the body and clear the mind at the same time is to combine meditation with walking. One simple way to do this is to concentrate on the movements of your body rather than on the destination. To get the most out of your everyday constitutional, breathe deeply and slow the pace a bit as you step.

Repeat a mantra – One time-tested technique to relax that crosses various healing disciplines, religions, and cultures is to focus on the sound of your voice as you repeat a certain phrase or word. You can select a popular mantra such as transcendent meditation or from any established form of mantra meditation or you can come up with a mantra of your own.

Progressive muscle relaxation – This technique is a bit more advanced and entails focusing one’s attention on specific parts of one’s body, especially on tense or sore feet or hands and other body parts areas, to gain relief. This technique has an impressive track record when performed with deep breathing.


To conclude, there are infinite ways in how to meditate. No single system, form, or style is set in stone, but instead can be modified based on one’s needs. In meditation, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to do it. The most important thing is that the type of meditation you use really works for you, which is the reason we exhort you to experiment as early and as often as possible.

Acupuncture Health Center
1303 Astor St #101
Bellingham, WA 98225
(360) 715-1824

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