After almost 20 years working as a physical therapist and pilates practitioner, I am very clear that teaching body mechanics and therapeutic exercise alone does have its limitations. I see a lot of patients who are plagued by stress that directly correlates to their pain level. Without managing the stress, by shifting their energy or nervous system state, their healing process is stunted.
I've been meditating on and off for nearly 20 years now. I began in graduate school as a desperate step to manage the “academic stress." My mother sent a meditation cushion to me in Boston. From there, I read nothing on techniques, instead I just sat on the cushion and breathed for 15 minutes daily, prior to doing anything else. After 2 weeks, I noticed I looked forward to sitting on the cushion (instead of dreading it). I noticed a sense of peace, that wasn’t always long lasting but was clearly present. I was able to better focus on my studies in a calm state. Years later I continue to meditate, but for a much different reason, with various techniques, both alone and in group settings.
They call meditation a “practice” because it is difficult and requires consistent practice to see or feel the effects. At times it results in a great deal of reward, and other times more frustration. However, what is becoming more clear, are the benefits of a steady meditation practice. Amongst some basic benefits are reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and an increase in awareness, self concept and general well being.
So many of us understand the benefits of meditation, but are not sure how to meditate. I've come up with a short list of some basic types of meditation which you can try in order to find a particular technique that resonates with you. Your technique will likely change or evolve as your practice deepens.
TYPES OF MEDITATION
1. Loving Kindness Meditation Also known as Metta meditation. The goal is to cultivate love and kindness toward everything, even an individual's “enemy" or source of stress, as well as toward oneself.
2. Body Scan or Progressive Relaxation The goal is to scan the body for areas of tension, and allow it to release. This technique can help with both relaxation, and decreasing chronic pain in the body.
3. Mindfulness Meditation Goal is to become aware and present with your existing surroundings. This technique can help with focus, emotional reactivity, & general negative emotions
4. Breath Awareness Meditation Goal is focus on mindful breathing, and shifting from focus on thoughts.
5.Kundalini Yoga Meditation Physically active meditation that blends movement with deep breathing and mantras. This technique can improve physical strength and reduce pain.
6. Transcendent Meditation Goal of this technique is to transcend or rise about the persons current state of being. Focus is on a mantra or repeated word to series of words.