Vedic Meditation or Transcendental Meditation (TM) may have started off as a buzzword in the Western world over the last few decades but in recent years it has emerged as a powerful tool to support and boost mental health and a general sense of well-being. Although meditation is a practice as ancient as human civilization itself, it is even more relevant to our modern world as the stressors in our daily lives intensified.
Well-known public figure like Oprah Winfrey, Cameron Diaz and Jerry Seinfeld are long-time celebrity enthusiasts of TM and are not shy to explain how it has helped them. Closer to home, Justin Langer and Hugh Jackman also maintain a regular meditation practice.
If you are considering starting a meditation practice, you’re bound to have questions that we can help with, so let’s get started.
Misconceptions about meditation
Before we jump into it, let’s clear up a few common misconceptions about meditation:
It is not a belief system or a religion. It is also not only a breathing technique. Meditation is a mental practice to relax the mind and body.
- Meditation is not meant to control the mind, but rather to train and calm the attention.
- It may take some time to calm your mind, but you do not have to practice for years to feel the difference. You will notice it in a few days.
- It does not require any change in your lifestyle or diet. Many people avoid meditation because they believe they will have to become vegetarian or give up their Friday night beers. The only requirement of meditation is that you give 20 minutes of your day to yourself.
What is meditation and is it different from Vedic Meditation?
Meditation is a type of mind-body or relaxation therapy. The idea is to focus on a single object or concept. For instance, you may choose to pay attention to your breath, light a candle and look into the flame, or repeat a soothing chant.
The narrowing of your focus allows you develop two skills: Learning to relax when you choose, and paying attention to your thoughts or mental processes. Relaxation and attention work together and focusing on the mind and body allows them to calm down.
While other forms of meditation may ask you to empty your mind of thoughts, this is not always possible especially for beginners. Vedic Meditation uses a chant to help bring your focus back and gives the restless meditator something to do.
Your instructor will provide you with a Vedic Meditation mantra that is specific to you. It is a refined sound which has a calming and charming quality and you will use it to develop and deepen your practice.
When your attention is focused on this chant, your mind begins ‘clean itself out’. You will find that you understand yourself better, experience less stress and negativity, and have clearer thoughts.
What are the benefits of Vedic Meditation?
Vedic Meditation boasts of a plethora of mental and physical benefits.
- It is effective for lifestyle conditions like stress and insomnia
- It can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety
- It helps those with chronic pain, heart disease, hypertension or fibromyalgia
- It can enhance poor immune functions and pain tolerance
- It is beneficial for digestive issues, blood pressure, diabetes
Vedic Meditation can not only help you recuperate from specific health conditions but also significantly improve the quality of your life. A Harvard University study found that being engaged in the here and now has significant implications on people’s happiness levels. A 2012 UCLA study discovered that those who meditate for years have extra folds in the brain’s cortex which enables clearer thinking and faster processing of information.
How do I practice Vedic Meditation?
Vedic Meditation is widely popular in Australia, but do keep in mind that this type of meditation is also known as Transcendental Meditation, so the two terms may be used interchangeably.
At the outset, you might like to consider shorter sessions so that you can see if it suits you. In the preliminary sessions, you will be given your very own Vedic meditation mantra which will work with your emotional and mental traits.
With Vedic Meditation, you can incorporate an effortless practice into your daily schedule while remaining fully engaged with the external world.
As you make progress, you might choose longer sessions to enhance and deepen your practice. Some people like to go on meditation retreats where you can disconnect from the rest of the world and go on deeper inward journeys. These retreats allow you to unleash the full potential of Vedic Meditation.
What is the long-term outlook on Vedic Meditation?
Vedic Meditation or any other form of meditation can only show results when done regularly. It is best to keep practicing until it becomes a habit. Once you have learned the techniques of this form of meditation, it will become second nature. You’ll be able to meditate anywhere, whether you’re in a park or commuting to work.
It is recommended to meditate twice a day (morning and evening) for 20 minutes each time. But even if you can manage only one session of 20 minutes to start with, you’ll begin to notice the benefits very soon.
If you’re looking for meditation centres near you, Avaana can help you find one and make an appointment.