What is the difference between meditation and relaxation?

Most of us know about meditation but few of us really know what is it or why its gained in popularity in recent times. Relaxation and meditation generally go hand in hand and are often confused as the same thing. In truth, one experiences a deep sense of calm and relaxation when meditating, a wonderful side affect, but this is not in itself meditation.  

Meditation is in fact a state of thoughtless awareness, where one does not attach to any thoughs but assumes a state of profound inner peace yet maintaining complete alertness. It is an act of being rather than of doing. The purpose of meditation is to slow down our incessant thoughs, to be free of our mental anguish and our stresses, to come to a place of calm and peace within.

Relaxation techniques offer methods for activating the relaxation response in the body and this together with focused breathwork promotes many physiological changes to illict whole body relaxation and a sense of calm. Guided relaxation techniques provides more of a focused awareness. In my practice I guide the client, with words, to focus on various parts of the body, to consciously notice and release tension in that area. The relaxation follows as I move the client observe how the body feels after the release, the ease and softness that arises and the settling of the breath. 

Research reveals that the brain does not recognise the difference between imagining something and actually doing it, so in my practice with clients I teach them visualisation techniques to induce wellbeing, inner peace and centerdness. 

 

How can Meditation assist me?

The purpose of meditation is to slow down our incessant thoughs, to be free of our mental anguish and our stresses, to come to a place of calm and peace within.  Meditation enables one to focus on the present moment, rather then dwelling on the past or future that causes us much of the stressors and fears we experience in our lives. 

One of the benefits of meditation is to reduce the over stimulation of our nervous system, that in short, controls how we act and perceive our universe through our senses. Our autonomic nervous system which governs our 'fight, flight or freeze' response greatly benefits from regular meditation as we become more de-activated and conscious of our reactions, defenses and presence. 

Physically, we feel more settled and relaxed with regular meditation and having a focused awareness on our energy centres helps to reduce physical illnesses. 

Mentally our thoughts still and fade away as we become more skilled at appying meditation techniques. This allows us to remain more in the present moment absorbing the moments as they arise rather than being caught up in our fears and stressors of the past and future. All we have is the now moment.

The emotional benefits of regular meditative practice are inner peace and balance. The sparks of our emotional world which take us into anger, grief, resentment, jealousy etc. are dramatically reduced as we become more mindful of them and more able to observe, acknowledge and release them consciously. 

Overall with regular practice of meditation we experience greater moments of joy and bliss.

As part of my holistic counsellilng practice, clients will learn this precious tool as it benefits everyone and is particular helpful for those struggling with anxiety, over - activity, nervous tension, depression and addictions. 

"Meditation is a way for nourishing and blossoming the divinity within you" - Amit Ray