Taking a holiday from an over active brain and endless self-observation seems a logical route to bliss. But how do we ease the burden of acute self-awareness, that endless chatter: Did I talk too much? Why didn’t I say anything? They must think I’m an idiot? I am an idiot!
A route growing in popularity in the west is meditation– a healthier option to excesses of alcohol, work or drugs. I’ve written about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness before and how even ten minutes of focused relaxation can give relief from self-criticism and judgement. Not only that, but studies at Stanford and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin have shown Tibetan monks meditating on compassion, show increased activity in the area of the brain related to joy and happiness-the left pre frontal cortex.
Some people meditate by focusing on their breath, others chant phrases or focus on a candle flame or the sounds of nature. There is no right way. However, it is important to experiment to find a way that suits you, as people often give up when they try a method that didn’t work or they didn’t like.
Some of the most popular meditation techniques include:
- Zen – with the aim of separating the ego from the mind, Zen meditation uses breathing and seated methods to focus attention on an object, freeing the mind.
- Mantra – Mantra -“that which protects the mind.” relies on the oral repetition of a sound or phrase sentence. Focusing on a sounds helps the mind detach fom thought.
- Mindfulness –where you focus and pay attention to the present moment to eliminate anxiety
- Qigong – Qigong is a standing method of meditation where you hold a posture for a length of 10 or 20 minutes or longer, depending on your stamina, experience and time! Holding postures and focusing on your breathing and hand movements takes concentration, helping calm the mind.