Positive Mental Health: Why You Should Try Meditation
Most of us make a point of scheduling regular trips to the dentist and doctor into our diaries to keep our physical health in check but our mental health can tend to take a back seat.
In a new series of articles, we look at little ways to maintain positive mental health and keep stress under control.
WHAT: Dating back to ancient times, meditation has long been used as a method of tackling stress, achieving clarity and improving health. The Buddha is one of the most popular meditative icons and the practice helps people to achieve balance mentally, physical and emotional balance.
WHY: There is a huge amount of evidence to show that meditation has wide-ranging benefits and it is regularly used as a tool to treat depression, anxiety and stress. When things are getting on top of you, spending a few minutes meditating can calm you down, ease headaches and also boost your immune system.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School recently discovered is that far more "disease fighting genes" were active in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation than in those who practised no form of relaxation. They found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis were induced by ''the relaxation effect'', a phenomenon that could allegedly be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side effects.
HOW: Meditation can seem quite daunting to beginning with but rather than being a complicated process, it is simply a matter of taking some time away from the demands of everyday life and clearing your mind. There are many different ways to approach meditation but the 'quiet mind' method is a good place to start.
1) Find a quiet space. One of the best things about meditation is that you can do it anywhere, whether it's a five minute session before a big work meeting or a confidence boost ahead of a big date. It can also be used when trying to make an important decision as it clears the mind and helps achieve clarity.
2) Relax into a comfortable position. Again, this is down to personal preference. Sitting cross-legged on the floor is a popular choice as it is said that by aligning the spine and opening the channels that run through the centre of the body, upright sitting encourages an unimpeded circulation of energy. Once you've found your position, let the tension leave your body and try to clear the noise in your head.
It is easy to get distracted at the beginning but if thoughts start creeping in, just concentrate on your breathing and start again. Some may find it easier to focus on something while they meditate. If this is the case, try looking at a candle or repeating a mantra to calm the mind and drown out the surrounding sounds.
3) Focus. Once you've found a relaxed, meditative state, take some time to enjoy the peace and let your mind subconsciously work through the issues that may be bothering you. Meditation can help to put problems and worries into perspective and give you an inner calm.
In case you missed it, here is one video that everyone should watch this Mental Health Week, the benefits of yoga and five simple stops to protect your mental health thanks to Mental Health Ireland.
Mental Health Ireland are asking the public to text and donate €4 to 50300 in order to help them continue their work.