Many people throughout the world practice meditation as a way to de-stress, create a healthier lifestyle, or just to calm the body, mind, and spirit. Visualization is frequently used in meditation, but that does not mean that they are the same thing. In fact there are many differences between meditation and visualization that are not always obvious.
There are as many ways to meditate as there are people who practice meditation. They range from the simple action of breathing slowly and deeply, and counting the breaths, to meditations, such as Tai Chi, that use movements in addition to the meditative state and breathing techniques. Some forms of meditation are performed while seated in the full-lotus or half-lotus position, while others are performed while seated in a chair or lying on a mat. Regardless of which form is used in meditation, breathing is very important, and slow, deep deliberate breaths are the goal in controlling exhalation. As the person becomes more experienced in the meditative arts, breathing naturally slows down and the state of meditation is reached much more quickly.
During meditation, one goal is to eliminate all distractions and wandering thoughts. Many people like to play calming music while meditating. Music that is found in nature and binaural sounds have both proven to be extremely beneficial to many people while they are in a state of meditation.
Oftentimes, meditation is done in order to focus healing energy on specific parts of the body, called the Chakras, while other meditations are performed simply to channel the Chi, or energy, of the body. Physiologically, both forms are healing and highly beneficial. Meditation is simply the practice of being still, paying attention to the body, and focusing on breathing.
Guided visualization is often helpful during a meditation, but it is not necessary. There are many guided visualizations on the market that focus on solutions to a variety of life problems. Some visualizations focus on relieving stress, while others focus on restoring energy. Similarly, some visualizations focus on solving a problem in which a resolution has been completely unavailable, while others focus on eliminating problems from the conscious mind.
There are many visualization techniques that help to guide healing of the body, and many are being explored by researchers around the globe to find out why they are effective. When the body and mind work in harmony to promote healing, these visualization techniques have been known to ease pain, to reduce the size of tumors, to minimize migraine headaches, and to speed up healing after surgery or other accidents.
One amazing aspect of a guided visualization is that, for some people, the mental picture becomes so real, that the mind has a very difficult time distinguishing this illusion from reality. When people become better practiced at guided visualization, after a while they can sit still, close their eyes, breathe slowly, and transport themselves in their mind to that solitary mountain, beautiful tropical beach or whichever image that helps to remove the stress of the day, and to restore energy and serenity to life.
Meditation and visualization are hardly the same thing, but when they are used together, they tend to produce many benefits as a holistic approach to healing the body, mind, and soul. Visualization seems to play a great role in different meditation techniques, and with the variety of guided meditations available, there is sure to be one that is effective in providing health benefits or resolving issues, or to just help the body to relax. The results so far seem to show they are a very effective combination. There is still plenty of research to be carried out in this area of visualization, but it would seem that this is an extremely effective process when used in combination with the healing energies of meditation.
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