In most fitness exercises, some trainers wind up their sessions with meditation.
Medical doctors, psychologists, and more have backed up meditation as a vital form of exercise or medicine that can help improve mental and emotional health.
Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
Olivier Mugisha, a fitness trainer, says meditation at the end of any form of exercise is simply done for the purpose of transforming the mind to develop concentration and clarity.
Also, it’s a way of learning new habits in your mind to cultivate more positive ways of living. By doing this, you can grasp a new understanding of life by focusing on deepening the mind into a more energised state.
In a nutshell, meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. It is also a consciousness-changing technique that has been shown to have a wide number of benefits on psychological well-being.
The good thing about this form of exercise, Dr Celestine Karangwa, a physiotherapist at TCM Technology Clinic in Remera-Kigali, says is that one can do it anywhere, without special equipment or membership.
Importance of meditation
There’s a great variety of meditation each with different strengths and benefits.
Vincent Rwamamara, a physiotherapist based in Kigali, points out that trying out a style of mediation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life.
He says that more often, people use this practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance.
Stress is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.
Studies have identified that meditation lives up to its reputation for stress reduction. Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
Rwamamara says these effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
Furthermore, research has also shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
Another benefit of meditation Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist based in Rubavu District, notes is that it helps in controlling anxiety as it can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety.
He says that some research suggests that a variety of mindfulness and meditation exercises may reduce anxiety levels.
Apart from this, Twizerimana says meditation can help promote emotional health, as some forms of meditation can lead to improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life.
He further explains that inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response to stress, can affect mood, leading to depression. Meditation may also reduce depression by decreasing levels of these inflammatory chemicals.
Karangwa, on the other hand, points out that meditation also helps improve sleep.
“It has been established that people who meditate tend to stay asleep longer and have improved insomnia severity, compared to those who have an unmediated control condition,” he says.
He adds that becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia.
Additionally, Karangwa says meditation can as well help relax the body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.
When it comes to controlling pain, experts say meditation can be of help since the perception of pain is connected to one’s state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions.
Incorporating meditation into your routine could be beneficial for controlling pain.
“Mindfulness meditation could reduce pain, improve quality of life and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain,” Karangwa says.
Those who want to start out meditation, Rwamamara says, should sit or lie comfortably and close their eyes. Also, make no effort to control the breath and simply breathe naturally.
He adds that it’s important to focus your attention on the breathing and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.