Did you know that an estimated 500 million people meditate worldwide?
For thousands of years, meditation served as a means to find inner peace and interconnection between the mind, body and spirit. During Shamanic rituals in Siberia, meditation is closely linked to spirituality, enlightenment and opening the mind to greater possibilities.
It’s only recently that the view of meditation has changed. Over the last few years, meditation has become associated with mental wellbeing and stress relief. Meditation apps and videos have made it accessible to a more mainstream audience and soared in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest figures show downloads of mindfulness and meditation apps have doubled since March 2020, when the UK first went into lockdown. With restricted access to in-person mental health services, many turned to these self-help solutions to ease feelings of anxiety, depression and stress.
According to the popular meditation app Headspace, ‘meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective.’
Though meditation methods can vary, it typically involves training one’s mind to focus on something specific. It could be breath, an object, visualisation or even a chant to reach a state of calm and relaxation.
Science proves meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. An 8-week study looking into ‘mindfulness meditation’ found it reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress. Further studies have also found that meditation may improve the symptoms of stress-related conditions like IBS, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.
Habitual meditation (developed through regular practice) is believed to help reduce anxiety and improve coping skills.
As well as helping to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, meditation can help those with depression. A review of 18 studies found that people receiving meditation therapies experienced fewer symptoms of depression than those in a control group.
Some forms of meditation aim to help you better understand yourself and how you relate to the world and those around you. Meditation can also be a teaching method to help you recognise harmful thoughts and guide yourself towards a more positive way of thinking.
As well as benefiting mental health, meditation is a tool to increase one’s focus. Think of it as weight lifting for your attention span. The more you do it, the bigger it gets!
One study found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved attention and accuracy while completing a task compared to the participants in a control group. Another study concluded that meditating for just 13 minutes per day can enhance concentration and memory after eight weeks of practice.
Did you know that pain and state of mind are connected? For example, stressful situations can heighten feelings of discomfort. Research suggests that incorporating meditation into your routine can help control it.
A review of 38 studies found that meditation reduces pain, improves the quality of life and decreases symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain.
Research suggests that various forms of meditation can help treat insomnia and improve the quality of sleep for those without existing sleep problems. This is because meditation helps bring about a relaxed state of mind necessary for falling asleep. This reaction is often described as the 'relaxation response' and is the opposite of the 'stress response.'
Now that we’ve discussed some of the health benefits of meditation, we wanted to bring it back to the spiritual side of things. After all, it’s likely to be one of the things Mountainlife customers are most interested in.
Spiritual meditation focuses on developing a deeper understanding and connection with a higher power like the universe, God or your highest self.
The practice of spiritual meditation is very personal and can feel vastly different for each person. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else, so go with the flow rather than setting expectations of what your spiritual meditation practice should be like.
Find yourself a quiet spot where you can relax and let go. Become present in the moment. Focus on your breathing and see where it takes you. As you connect with your breath, you might find yourself concentrating on a visualisation, an affirmation or mantra.
Try to spend at least 10-15 minutes per day meditating. The more you do it, the more you’ll get out of it, and meditation should become as natural to your daily routine as brushing your teeth.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Reishi nourishes and protects one’s spirit because of its healing effect on the Shen, i.e. the emotional, mental and spiritual power in a human being. Therefore, people often use it before meditating to help attain a meditative state, encourage spiritual awareness and expand inner consciousness. Like Shilajit, Reishi is also recognised for its power in third eye activation.
Reishi is also described as having a ‘harmonising effect, which means that it brings the body into homeostasis instead of forcing the physiological activity into one direction.’ [Source]
So if someone suffers from stress or anxiety, taking Reishi over a long period can help to regulate stress responses to calm the mind and body.
For thousands of years, this powerful fungus was the best-kept-secret of spiritual masters, living as hermits in the mountains, who used it to fuel their spiritual connection between heaven and earth. Slowly, ancient emperors became aware of the mushroom and its ability to enhance self-development and began to use it themselves. Today Reishi continues to be known for enhancing the spiritual nature of those who use it.
If you are interested in finding out more about Reishi, check out our blog post Reishi for Sleep & other benefits or if you’d like to read more on the topic of spirituality, we've discussed how to embark on a spiritual awakening here.
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