A Womans Guide to Meditation

To OM or Not To OM

 I am sure like me you have heard, or maybe even practiced some sort of meditation. But just exactly what is it? What kinds of meditation are there? Is one better than the other?  And just what really are the benefits to your health.

Meditation has been practiced all over the world for thousands of years. It was originally designed to deepen a persons understanding and connection to the spiritual and religious worlds.

This has evolved in modern times to become a tool used for relieving stress, anxiety and promoting calm. It still has religious and spiritual connections but people who are neither of those things still can and do, learn and practice meditation. When practiced it can promote a state of deep relaxation.

There have been hundreds of scientific trials on meditation particularly in relation to its use in chronic pain and depression. The latest meta analysis (1) found that there was evidence to support the use of mindfulness based therapies “..to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the adjunct treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.”

There are many Different Types of meditation I have listed some of the more popularly discussed and practiced below.

  • Guided meditation: Someone guides you through the meditation practice. This can be achieved using an App, CD, Computer download or can occur during a meditation or even a yoga class. The voice is often accompanied by music but not always. The guide may use a focus on imagery, body scanning or affirmations.
  • Mantra: A type of focused meditation in which you concentrate on a mantra, or sound, the breath or even an object or a part of your body. With practice you are then able to not be distracted at all and just focus. The most famous mantra of course is “Om”.
  • Mindfulness: Where you intentionally focus on the present moment. To be present and to be aware of what is going on only in that moment. This can be done whilst sitting or lying but also whilst walking and doing other daily tasks. It is about paying attention only to what is happening and how it is happening in that moment.
  • Qigong: A Chinese meditation that translates as “life energy cultivation”, involves slow body movement, inner focus and regulated breathing. It favours the circulation of internal energy with an end to strengthening and nourishing the body.
  • Tai Chi: Involves slow and focussed body movement,  and regulated breathing. 
  • Transcendental Meditation:Originally developed in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. You can learn this through a teacher of TM. Your Mantra is given to you as a part of the learning and is based on your age and gender.
  • Yoga: Yoga tradition goes back as far as 1700BC and has as its highest goal spiritual purification and self knowledge. It is a combination of breathing, movement in postures and contemplation. There are many different types including Gazing, Tantra and Kriya.
  • Contemplative Prayer, Reading or sitting with God; A Christian practice to attain a closer relationship with God.

 There is a lot of information on the Web and a lot of support material including how to guides. Here are a few of the links I have found worth checking out.

  • Yoga Nidra on You Tube You can also find Yoga Nidra in quite a few audio shops such as ITunes. If you look,there are many free ones.
  • Buddhify  an App you ccan put on your phone or audio device that you can use anytime of the day or night. This is about $7 Aud but well worth it as you can pick from about 25 different types to suit whatever you are doing at that moment including if you wake at night.
  • Qigong Books from Amazon 
  • If you want to learn more then check out Live and Dare this is an excellent website full of amazing information
  • You might also like to check out SarahMcCrum.com or listen to her podcast where we discuss energy and how to manage it. "Power Up Your Energy"
Meditation for Women over 50

Common features of Meditations

  • Focusing of attention
  • Relaxed breathing
  • Usually slow movements with a focus on the movement itself.

 Meditation has been found to reduce heart rate and blood pressure as it slows the body down and reduces the fight or flight response to stimuli. many women find meditation extremely helpful as they go through the symptoms of Menopause. It can be practiced anywhere and in many different forms. The key to its success is practice and constancy. It is also not necessary to spend hours meditating to gain benefit. Just a few minutes a day can be enough particularly if you are just starting out.

So find one you like, start off slowly and then just keep on going.

 (1)Standardised Mindfulness-Based Interventions in Healthcare: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Anlyses of RCT’s Gotink etal PLOS One