Meditation 101: How Meditation Can Help You Manage Stress

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 10:10 PM

As most college students are aware, stress is debilitating and can cause numerous health problems if left unchecked. Overloading on school assignments, tests, extracurricular activities and social life can stress the best of us. That is why keeping your mind and body healthy and balanced is essential. A relaxed, balanced mind can help aid all aspects of life, whether it be sleep, relationships, energy levels or concentration.

There are many types of meditation that are practiced, and as they say, “to each his own.” Perhaps learning about the different styles can help you decide which is best for you.

The ultimate goal of meditation in Buddhism is “enlightenment,” which is the ultimate state of wisdom, insight or to know all and be aware of all.

Transcendental meditation is a form of Hindu meditation in which the goal is to transcend or become enlightened and have an out of body experience. This type of meditation is achieved by finding a quiet, dark space. In a seated pose, the individual can speak a mantra, out loud or in their mind, and focus on the breath going in and out, letting thoughts and feelings flow in and back out, trying not to let any thoughts linger for too long. Eventually, you will become so relaxed that the breath will slow as your mind and body relax.

Dzogchen is a form of tantric meditation, which is focused on awareness. This form is popular because you can practice at your seat or desk. The basics for this ancient Tibetan form, according to the Berzin archives, are having an immovable body, mind and senses. The first step is to keep a straight body with hands resting on your knees or in your lap. Keep your eyes open, but relaxed and looking naturally in front. Finally, keep your mind blank, with no thoughts or active thinking, and rest in the present moment of awareness.

For those of you who can’t or don’t want to sit still, Qi Gong is a Taoist form of slow movement meditation, which uses the breath and movement to circulate energy throughout the body.

Susan Labine, a psychology professor at Edinboro, is hosting weekly meditation meetings again this semester. They take place Tuesdays, from 2:10 to 2:40 p.m. (doors open at 2), and will run from Feb. 9 through April 26 in Compton 118. Each week, Labine holds a different guided mediation for 25 minutes. Labine said for the first week of mediation meetings they did a guided imagery of loving-kindness mediation. The second week they did a mindfulness meditation called body-scan.

Loving-kindness is a practice taught by the Buddha to develop the mental habit of selfless or altruistic love, bring about positive attitudinal changes and act as a form of psychotherapy to heal the mind of pain and confusion, according to buddhanet.net.

The practice begins with a loving acceptance of yourself. The first step is to visualize yourself or a specific person (this can be a friend or someone you’re having problems with) smiling at you or being happy. Next, reflect on the positive qualities of yourself or the person. Finally, repeating a mantra or phrase in your head can be extremely effective at getting your mindset back to positivity. Meditation goes hand in hand with Chakras. There are seven Chakras in the body, located at different points, each one focusing on different aspects of your life and health.

Beginning at the bottom is your Root Chakra or Base Chakra, which functions as your grounding and safety. It lays the foundation for expansion in your life. Sacral Chakra is next, focusing on emotions, creativity and acceptance. The Solar Plexus Chakra is all about having a sense of well-being, a sense of abundance, sexuality and pleasure and is located near your reproductive area. The Heart Chakra brings out our ability to love and is located, fittingly, in the center of the chest just above the heart. The throat Chakra is representative of our ability to communicate and is located in the throat.

The third-eye Chakra focuses on our ability to focus and see the big picture, as it represents intuition, imagination, wisdom and decision making. Crown Chakra is the last Chakra and is located at the top of the head. It represents our inner and outer beauty and our connection to spirituality.

It is important to understand that you need to be aware of your Chakras at all times. They can easily become unbalanced, throwing your mind or body into chaos. Simple meditation, use of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls and specific mantras can all help realign your Chakras and your life.

These are only a few of the many types of meditation and the basic explanation of the Chakras. It is up to you to find the one that works best for you. It is important to remember that meditation is not only about following the steps, but being comfortable and doing what works for you. The whole point of meditation is to clear your mind, and in turn the rest will come.

Anna Ashcraft is the Managing Editor of Features for The Spectator.

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