Shirin Razavi E D.
The first time my mother and I decided we would try meditation and see what all the fuss was about, was around 10 years ago. A community centre in London was promoting mental, physical and spiritual health and so one evening, we paid a visit……we were encouraged to leave as my mother was disturbing the session with her snoring! Needless to say, I was mortified and decided it was probably best to continue my spiritual journey alone, and turn to my mother for other strengths she possesed.
Today, we can all log onto Google or visit a bookstore and see just how many forms of meditation have developed over the years. But what is it all about? Most people have come to associate meditation with hippies, ‘Om’ and having to try and clear your head (which the majority of us find impossible). People often say they dont have time for it, or that it doesnt work for them, they can’t do it and never really understood the purpose.
Well, granted I can only speak from my personal experience and hope that this little soap box moment can give you some clarity on the importance and meditation, for the mind, body and soul. It has proven to be truly medicinal for me and those around me, and a large part of Luna Mah’s mission.
Meditation is a practice that involves an individual training the mind or exploring other modes of conciousness in order to explore the mind’s content or to discover some benefit from a higher level of awareness. The word comes from the Latin verb ‘Meditari’ which means to ‘think’ or ‘contemplate’.
Historically, meditation has had strong links with religious practices and therefore the various forms and styles of meditation are usually dependent on the culture or religion that the style comes from. Types include Mindfulness, Transcendental, Metta, Guided, Mantra, Taoist, the list is truly endless and there is nothing to suggest that one form is more effective than another. It will depend on the individual and it is simple to search through the different styles and choose one that works for you.
I myself have tried different types and decide on my practice depending on the week/day I have had and often mix aspects of various styles that suit me. There is nothing to suggest you cannot do this too, as meditation is a personal experience, taking you on a journey only you can go on.
In recent years, the world of Neurology and Neuropsychology have finally taken a closer look and produced a vast amount of research on Meditation including its benefits and neurophysiological changes in the brain and body that occur as a result of practice. Indeed, much research is needed for the entire medical field to fully latch on to the wonders of Meditation, but there is no doubt, the world is jumping on-board.
Research has found that mindfulness practices can be used to alleviate anxiety and depressive symptoms (Strauss et al, 2014) and also to reduce stress (Khoury et al, 2015) which I personally have found to be the case. In fact, there is a long list of physical and mental symptoms that have been found to have improved through the practice of Meditation. Studies from the Society for Integrative Oncology have found that these include sleep disturbances, general mood, chronic pain, and even poor quality of life in patients with cancer.
I have often experienced moments during meditation that I simply cannot explain, and in guiding meditation for others, I have seen the change in members of the group immediately after waking up from meditative states. I have felt more creative, relaxed, and find myself feeling like a genuinely nicer person! All of that aside, it is uninvasive, clean, and absolutely substance free which is why meditation groups around the world are growing rapidly.
The ultimate aim for this article is to promote and encourage the practice of meditation, and hope that you will make the effort to research for styles that suit you. I was once told that ‘The best time to meditate is when you dont have the time to’…
Khoury B, Sharma M, Rush SE, Fournier C (Jun 2015). “Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis”. J Psychosom Res. 78 (6): 519–528.
Strauss C, Cavanagh K, Oliver A, Pettman D (Apr 2014). “Mindfulness-Based Interventions for People Diagnosed with a Current Episode of an Anxiety or Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials”. PLoS ONE. 9 (4): e96110