It’s no surprise that the ancient practice of meditation is now widely accepted as a technique that promotes overall health and well-being. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), meditation helps calm the mind (shen), which is housed in the heart. The calming effect of this practice consequently ensures proper and smooth circulation of blood throughout the body.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of meditation and discover how you can bring calmness and health to your life.
What Meditation Can Do for You
Beyond relaxation and stress reduction, here’s what else meditation does:
1. It enhances your physical well-being
One of the things that meditation may do for your body is improving balance, flexibility, endurance, mobility, resilience, and musculoskeletal strength. It’s also beneficial for alleviating fatigue, suppressing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and boosting your immune system. Meditation has shown the potential to improve or prevent chronic illnesses. The consumption of the essence of chicken with ginkgo biloba extract is also good for achieving similar benefits.
According to Real Health Medical Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew, the practice of Qigong can “ensure good circulation of the qi (vital life energy) and blood within the meridian channels, as well as promote strength, flexibility, endurance, and resilience of the respective meridian sinews”.
2. It improves quality of life in people with chronic diseases
Meditation has also shown signs of being able to help people cope with debilitating diseases like cancer. The 2014 clinical practice guidelines by the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIC) suggested the use of meditation as supportive care. This due to the practice’s ability to ease anxiety, fatigue, and depression in people with breast cancer.
The 2013 guidelines from the American College of Chest Physicians, on the other hand, recommended meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). This therapeutic intervention helps people increase mindfulness through yoga and meditation. Studies also show that this technique can uplift the mood and self-esteem of people with lung cancer.
3. It provides relief from anxiety and insomnia
A 2012 review found that 25 out of 36 trials reported a reduction of anxiety symptoms in meditation groups compared to control groups. An NCCIH-funded study also saw 54 adults with chronic insomnia learning MBSR, a form of MBSR called mindfulness-based therapy for insomnia (MBTI), or a self-monitoring programme.
Both meditation-based programmes showed marked improvements in sleep quality, with MBTI having a better tendency to relieve insomnia than MBSR. In TCM, alternatively, meditation relates to calming the “spiritual energy”.
Meditation Practices for Beginners
You can practice meditation anywhere and anytime. Hence, if you are just starting with meditation, here are a few practices that may resonate with you.
A popular form of meditation, mindfulness typically consists of two parts — attention and acceptance. Attention refers to having a gentle focus on what is happening in the present moment. In addition, it involves directing your awareness to your breath, thoughts, and physical sensations, as well as the feelings you’re experiencing. Acceptance, meanwhile, involves judgment-free observation of those feelings and sensations and learning how to let them go.
This movement-based meditation technique has roots in the teachings of medicine, martial arts, and Chinese philosophy. With a focus on calming meditation, relaxing postures, deep, rhythmic breathing, and slow-flowing movements, Qigong aims to enhance qi through dynamic and static postures.
- Dynamic movements (动功) comprise slow and fluid movements integrated seamlessly with your awareness and breathing. These stances help regulate your energy flow.
- Static practices (静功) relate to specific bodily stances (also known as zhan zuang) for a prolonged period. Additionally, these practices often incorporate meditation, visualisation, and mindful breathing, which help with modulating your breathing and psyche.
Inner Elixir Alchemy (Lian Nei Dan)
Inner Elixir Alchemy or Lian Dei Nan (炼内丹) is a Taoist system that embraces breathing, meditation, visualisation, and posture exercises. In brief, the primary goal of this practice is to cultivate the ‘inner elixir’, which encompasses three essential bodily substances (also known as the “3 Treasures”):
1. Jing (精) or “life essence”
Jing is created in the kidneys and possibly the adrenal glands. It is housed in the lower dantian(下丹田), located in the lower abdomen.
2. Qi (气) or “vital energy”
According to TCM, Qi (气) or “vital energy” is produced in the lungs, and resides in the middle dantian(中丹田) within the Danzhong acupoint RN17 (on the anterior median line of the chest, at the level of the 4th intercostal space, at the midpoint between the two nipples).
3. Shen (神) or “spiritual energy”
Meanwhile, Shen (神) or “spiritual energy”, conceived in the heart and is seated in the upper dantian(上丹田), which is either at the Baihui acupoint DU20 (on the top of the head, along the midline of the human body, approximately on the midpoint of the line connecting the apexes of the two ears) or the brain itself.
You can enjoy the countless benefits of meditation if you take your time to do it right. Take note that it’s common for your mind to wander, especially if you are a beginner. Slowly shifting your attention back to a movement, sensation, or object can help you focus. Most importantly, experiment, as this will allow you to discover the type of meditation that works best for you.
- American Psychological Association. 2019.Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress. [online] [Accessed 15 December 2021]
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 2016.Meditation: In Depth. [online] [Accessed 15 December 2021]