A sense of peace and balance helps us attain emotional and mental well-being, especially during these unusually stressful times.
Meditation is one way of attaining mental health. It can help us view our stressful situations from another perspective and can us help build skills to manage stress. It helps increase self-awareness, focus on the present, reduce negative emotions, increase imagination and creativity, patience and tolerance. It may also alleviate certain medical conditions such as anxiety, cancer, chronic pain, depression, hypertension and heart disease, insomnia, and headaches. It has been shown to reduce our resting heart rate and resting blood pressure, and to improve quality of sleep.
Meditation can be done alone, on one’s own time and chosen place. It can be through guided meditation (guided imagery or visualization). One can form mental images of a relaxing or situation. A guide or teacher can help, so does soft music in a quiet place. In mantra meditation, silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. With qi gong (pronounced “chee-gung”) meditation which is part of traditional Chinese medicine, meditation is combined with relaxation, physical movement, and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance.
Tai chi, a form of gentle Chinese martial arts training, is considered a form of meditation. It involves self-paced series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner while practicing focus and deep breathing.
Transcendental meditation is a simple form of meditation. A word, sound or phrase is personally chosen and repeated as a mantra in a specific way. The body settles into a state of rest and relaxation and the mind can achieve a state of inner peace without needing to use concentration or effort.
Yoga is another way of meditating. A series of postures and controlled breathing exercises are done to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. Balance and concentration are required and one is encouraged to focus on the moment.
Meditation thus involves focused attention as this frees the mind from distractions that cause stress and worry. It also involves relaxed breathing. Deep, even-paced slow breathing expands the lungs. The purpose is to slow one’s breathing, allow one to take in more oxygen with less use of shoulder, neck, and upper chest muscles.
You can tailor meditation and fit it in your own schedule. It can be done alone or with a teacher, at your own pace or you may join a special group.
Consult with a health care provider is advised in the presence of medical conditions that may preclude its use. In some rare cases, meditation can worsen symptoms associated with certain mental health conditions. Meditation is not to be used as a replacement for traditional medical treatment but it can be a useful supplement to medical treatment.There’s no right way or wrong way to meditate. The role of meditation is to help reduce stress, towards better overall health.
What are other ways that can help you attain mental health?
Give back something to the community. Share your material resources, time or talent. In the process you may also meet people who share your goal of helping others.
Expand your skills, learn new ones. Enroll in online courses or attend seminars or webinars.
Discover the joy of owning (or taking care of) a pet. Discover that a pet can give you a power dose of love when you need some lifting up. Feel flattered when you realize that your pet only has eyes for you, and feel valued and useful as you know that a creature depends on you for its survival and well-being.
Discover the joy of owning and maintaining plants. Not necessarily the exotic and expensive ones. For a start choose cheap and easy to maintain types. Be friends with green thumbs. Your best plant in life may be the one you got for free from a generous green thumb.
Experts advise that we take small vacations. This can be a visit to a park near your home or office. Or a short break in a quiet corner of a small cafe nearby. Try different flavors of coffee, search for a small cafe that serves the best local barako.
Rediscover the joy of reading books. They help expand the mind through visualization and imagination. Travel to different places through books.
As the Department of Health states, there is no health without mental health.