After a year of restrictions, the post-Christmas blues and an extended period of lockdown, this winter is not an easy road for many of us.
We are having to work harder in our mindset and come up with strategies that alleviate stress and anxiety, promoting a relaxed and positive attitude. One of these strategies is meditation.
Studies have shown that meditation can be a powerful mental tool to achieve greater clarity, lower levels of stress and reduced anxiety.
When practised daily, meditation can also improve your ability to focus and enhance memory and attention.
Meditation is a mental practice which uses a series of techniques to heighten your state of awareness. When applying these techniques, you train yourself to become more conscious about your thoughts, observing them without judgment, which allows you to understand yourself better and as a result, widen your perspective. This leads to a significant improvement of your psychological well-being.
There are many different types of meditation, depending on the practice and chosen techniques. Some of these include:
Spiritual meditation – it incorporates components of silence, prayers, and self-control, and aims to build a deeper connection to the Divine.
Mindfulness meditation – it fosters a state of consistent happiness by enhancing self-knowledge and understanding.
Loving-kindness meditation – it promotes generous and selfless love towards yourself and others, increasing your level of compassion and acceptance.
Movement meditation – it involves physical movements such as walking, yoga to create a stronger connection between the body and the mind.
Focused meditation – as its name indicates, it teaches how to calm the mind by focusing on an object or breathing with the aim of promoting concentration and self-awareness.
Visualisation meditation – it uses imagination to create a mind-soothing picture in your mind, for example, the open sky, or a serene river stream, and let pent-up emotions and negative thoughts wash away in the imagined scene, encouraging calmness and positivity.
Chanting meditation – it involves repeating ‘Mantras’ or words linked to happiness, gratitude, self-love, compassion, and inner peace. Regular chanting of these phrases is meant to allow positive energy into your life and help you experience wellness at the very core.
Broadening - perspective meditation – encourages you to look at issues or situations which lead to negative feelings from different perspectives, in order to widen your viewpoints and achieve acceptance.
Meditation can, therefore, be a powerful tool to help you reach a well-balanced head space. As a result, it can:
Regardless of your chosen method to meditate, you can enhance your practice with other tools to help you achieve a deeper meditative state and concentration. One of these tools is fragrances.
When you perceive a particular smell, not only you experience the sensation of the odour, but also the emotions associated with these sensations. Scientific studies reveal that many of our olfactory likes and dislikes are based purely on emotional associations.
Your olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of your brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion. Smell sensations are transmitted to the cortex, where ‘cognitive’ recognition occurs, only after the deepest parts of your brain have been stimulated. Therefore your emotions are awakened before you are able to identify the scent that has triggered them.
Thus, using scent can be a great way to prepare and support your meditation practice, as they can influence your emotions and create an environment which aids balance and serenity.
Dr. Louise Taylor, a 5 Elements Yoga instructor (200YTT) who runs short courses on meditation explains why she loves this practice and the benefits of incorporating it into your daily routine: “The speed and demands of modern living can leave us exhausted and almost permanently fatigued. I have found through meditation a way of putting the world around me on pause for a while and thereby, gain clarity and mental strength to address situations in a calmer, in control manner and with sustained energy.”
You can experience a taster of Louise’s meditation practice with candle on her latest YouTube video: Candle Meditation