Meditation, Meditation Retreats & Health Tourism
Meditation is a practice in which an individual seeks to achieve an advanced mental state through a process involving the removal of all natural thought processes other than those required to focus on a single object or action. The practice is closely associated with Buddhism and is believed to have been around for more than 5,000 years.
Meditation is considered to be beneficial to both mental and physical health in a number of ways. Many proponents of the practice claim to have conquered illnesses or debilitating medical conditions through meditation. The relief of stress, anxiety and depression are deemed the most obvious mental benefits of regular meditation, while physical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, high blood pressure and asthma can be improved through meditation.
Meditation can be difficult for complete novices and guidance through a meditation retreat is often a beginner’s best introduction to the practice. Retreat centers are invariably affiliated with one or more specific religions or philosophies such as Buddhism or Raj Yoga, and students can choose between them depending on their own personal beliefs or leanings.
The most popular form of Buddhist meditation known to westerners is Vipassana (the lesser known alternative is Samatha) and is a practice that is offered in many centers in North America and Europe. Typically, students remove themselves from regular life for a period of 10 days or more, during which time the greater part of their day is dedicated to meditative practice.
For an authentic Vipassana experience many students travel to Asian countries such as Thailand, where they are able to immerse themselves in meditation without any of the distractions or temptations that western life might present. Students are generally assigned a mentor who is responsible for guiding him or her through the retreat and providing instruction into the complexities of meditation processes.
Once students have completed their retreats or instruction they can take away what they have learned and attempt to integrate regular meditation sessions into their daily lives in the hope of achieving and sustaining good physical and mental health.