Meditation is a powerful tool that benefits both the mind and body. Meditation is shown to decrease blood pressure, decrease tension and pain, increase serotonin, increase immune function, and increase energy on a physical level. On a mental level meditation lowers beta waves (where the information is processed in the brain) and increases alpha waves (those connected to coherence), the frontal and parietal lobes slow (sensory, reasoning, and processing), and the nervous system overall comes to a restful state. This helps decrease anxiety and depression, increase creativity, increase focus, and there is an overall clarity of mind.
Mindfulness focuses on being present in the moment. For example, when practicing mindfulness meditation the goal is to let go of all thought. So, one focuses on the breath or a certain noise in the room and whenever a thought comes into the mind the meditator states, “Thinking,” and watches that thought drift away. One then comes back to focusing on that particular noise or action (the breath, for example).
Intuitive meditation is that which is similar to going into a dream state. When one practices intuitive meditation she/he may focus on aligning the chakras (energy centers within the body along the spine) and go through each color, and when complete, see where their guides, spirit, etc. take them on their journey. In this dream-like state the meditator again lets go of all thought and worry, then learns and enjoys what one may learn from wherever one went, so to speak.
Yoga is meditation through movement. The meditator practices and goes through different poses focusing on the breath and the movement. Their mind lets go and the practitioner is able to solely focus on the moment, the yoga.
When receiving massage–be it Thai, Swedish, deep tissue, foot, etc.–the receiver goes into a state of calm, rest, and meditation. The massage therapist is also in a state of being focusing on the muscles, what the receiver needs, and following her/his intuition as to where to go next within the sequence of the massage. There is a give and take happening between the LMT and the client, the receiver, because of the energy exchange that naturally takes place during the massage.
For example, a client comes to her massage therapist’s office and is feeling frazzled, anxious, and even pain manifested from these feelings. The therapist allows the client to settle onto the Thai mat or massage table and asks the client to take 3 deep breaths. The client’s body starts to relax. Once the session begins, the therapist stays calm and helps the client’s energy come down and in turn. The therapist remains grounded, or present in the moment, which helps the client do the same. As the client matches the energy of the therapist, so too does the therapist match the client and the two fall into sync and help one another stay calm and present. It is during this time that the therapist can facilitate self-healing within the client. When one is in a meditative state, self-healing is easier to achieve because the ego, the mind, is quiet and is unable to dissuade one from that healing energy and say it is not possible. Instead the quiet mind allows the body to absorb healing energy and stay in the present moment of self-healing.
Meditation is a wonderful tool everyone is able to practice, even if for 5 minutes per day in order to quiet the mind and allow for peace. A wonderful app, Insight Timer, is available on iPhones and Droids. There are guided meditations or a simple timer in which one can choose music and the length of time the meditation will take place. It then tracks the progress of the meditator. There are guided meditations as short as a minute and as long as a couple of hours. There are theta wave meditations, sleep meditations, gratitude meditations, and so on. It is wonderful for beginners and long-time practitioners.
Enjoy meditating and remember you can always slip into a meditation on a massage table and/or mat to quiet your mind and allow for calm, peaceful energy.