Urban living – often fast-paced and frenetic – can sometimes rob us of our focus and serenity. In a dynamic metropolis like Singapore, workdays are usually long and hectic, and weekends quickly fill up with social events. While it is no doubt exciting and rewarding to live in vibrant, global cities like Singapore, too much activity can leave urbanites feeling tired or burnt-out physically and psychologically.
A good way to slow down and recharge is through meditation. Research has shown that meditation can reduce stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure, reduce pain, improve sleep, concentration and self-awareness, and even make your relationships better.
Here are a few different types of meditation practices that are available in Singapore.
This method of meditation is all about learning how to slow down racing thoughts, be fully present, and be more accepting of yourself, your circumstances and others. Using breathing and body and sensory awareness, mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe everything you think, feel and perceive in the “here and now” without judgement. When practising mindfulness meditation, you focus on the rhythm of your breathing and simply witness your thoughts or feelings as they arise. Then you let them pass and return your focus to your breath. One place where you can learn mindfulness meditation in Singapore is at The Open Centre in Bukit Timah, which offers meditation retreats for adults, children and corporations.
Made popular by Indian meditation master S.N. Goenka, vipassana, which means “insight” or “clear-seeing” is more of a meditation approach rather than a technique. The goal of vipassana is to help us see things as they really are. Vipassana meditation and mindfulness meditation have much in common, but the key differences between them are philosophical. Unlike mindfulness meditation, which focuses on observation and acceptance of intrusive thought, vipassana requires more intense examination of internal states. Writing about a vipassana retreat she attended, The Guardian writer Jodi Ettenberg describes this form of meditation as “a blanket command of non-reaction”. “No matter the pain as you sit, or the fact that your hands and legs fall asleep and that your brain is crying for release. You are instructed to refocus attention on the objective sensations in your body, arising and falling, as you do a scan of your limbs in a specific order. By doing so…you train yourself to stop reacting to the vicissitudes of life.” If you’re ready to try this more rigorous form of meditation, visit the Vipassana Meditation Centre Singapore.
Established by Grandmaster JinBodhi inj1991, Bodhi meditation has centers in more than 50 countries and regions including Singapore. Based on Buddhist principles, Bodhi meditators use visualization and simple, physical movements to help strengthen their immune systems, alleviate physical pain, boost their energy levels, combat illnesses, reduce stress, and develop more compassion and equanimity. Highlighting the health-promoting aspects of meditation, this form of meditation is about tapping into the Chinese metaphysical concept of qi – internal energy flow – to improve your health and sense of wellbeing. If you’re curious to know more, the Bodhi Meditation Centre on Dunearn Road offers a variety of courses and retreats for beginners.
A mantra is a sound – like “Om” for instance – a word, or a phrase that is repeated during meditation. One popular form of mantra meditation is Transcendental Meditation, which Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced to the world in the mid-50s. It involves focusing on a special mantra given to you by a Transcendental Meditation teacher for 20-minutes. Mantra meditation is particularly useful for people who are restless or easily distracted during meditation as focusing on mantras helps prevent the mind from wandering. It is also a technique that appeals to those who are uncomfortable with internal silence. If you are religious, you can choose a word or phrase that’s related to your faith, but if you aren’t, you can choose words like “love”, “peace” or phrases like “every day is a new beginning” for example, as your mantra. You can either chant your mantra or just repeat it silently in your mind.
If you’ve never tried meditation before, or if you have and would like to delve a little deeper, there are many meditation centers that offer classes, weekly practice sessions and retreats in Singapore. Most of these centers offer courses that are ideal for novices as well as courses for meditators with different levels of experience, so you’ll surely find one that’s perfect for you.
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