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In a fast-paced and stressed out world, meditation is becoming more and more popular,
and for good reason.
Meditation can help people to improve self-awareness and esteem and reduce stress, anxiety, and aggression. Many people find that practising meditation helps with mood, focus, and self-compassion, and that it can have a positive effect on relationships, sleep, and dietary habits.
Benefits for People with Disabilities
Many people disabilities struggle with pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression, along with other symptoms. Meditation can provide people with disabilities with a sense of control and escapism that is helpful for the development of healthy and effective coping strategies.
The effectiveness of meditation varies from person to person, and no two participants are the same. However, some people with disabilities have found that engaging in meditative practises has helped them reduce physical symptoms, as well as improving mental wellness.
Some studies have shown that mediation can reduce strain on the heart, lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health. It can also be used as a pain management technique and a non-pharmaceutical option for the treatment of certain mental illnesses.
One of the most commonly talked about forms of meditation currently is mindfulness
. Mindfulness is a state of awareness that helps people to slow down and take notice of the present moment, letting go of judgements, future projections, and past worries to focus on the now.
Many mindfulness providers say that the practice can lower stress levels, increase self-awareness and acceptance, promote healthy interpersonal relationships, strengthen the immune system, positively alter neural patterns, and improve overall wellbeing
. Studies have also shown that mindfulness can be beneficial for addressing some behavioural, psychological, and physical problems in children with developmental disabilities
such as intellectual disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Mindfulness is incredibly accessible, because it can be individually tailored and does not rely on equipment or physical movement. People with a wide range of disabilities can participate in and benefit from mindfulness.
For people who find the inactivity of meditation difficult, movement-based meditation alternatives can be very helpful. Yoga is incredibly popular and is helpful for both physical and mental wellness.
Meditation focused yoga programs allow participants to practice similar meditative skills that they might use in a less active meditation discipline, but it also incorporates muscle strengthening exercises, making it a tool for physical fitness, too.
Because of its physical requirements, yoga is less accessible than mindfulness, but there are many adapted yoga programs and resources available. Adapted yoga can be used to help people with a range of disabilities, including those who brain and spinal cord injuries, people who use wheelchairs, people with mental or intellectual disabilities, and people with limited mobility. There are also yoga programs for people who are visually impaired, and these programs include clear verbal instructions and blindness-inclusive teaching styles.
In Australia, there are several disability-friendly and adapted yoga providers:
- Yogavana – Yogavana is a registered NDIS provider and offers programs in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia.
- Yoga Therapy Australia – Yoga Therapy Australia is designed to help people with a range of physical and mental illnesses and disabilities.
- Yogability Australia – Yogability Australia provides group, one-to-one, and weekend respite yoga programs for people with all kinds of disabilities. It is an NDIS provider and can travel to provide home or community-based programs.
Online and App-Based Mediation Resources
There are a range of online and app-based meditation resources available. These are helpful, because they allow users to learn meditation at home and at their own pace.
Smiling Mind is a not-for-profit web and app-based meditation program. It offers situation tailored sessions for stress, sleep, concentration, wellbeing, relationships, performance, sport, pregnancy, and mindful eating. Smiling Mind is designed to help people who are new meditation, and it has a particular focus on providing free and accessible mental health support to young people. Smiling Mind offers Indigenous languages programs, supports corporate and school programs, and provides self-paced mindfulness resources that people with a range of disabilities can benefit from.
Headspace is an online and app provider of hundreds of themed meditation sessions. These focus on range of goals including sleep, focus, stress management, and anxiety reduction. Sessions are short, making them easy for beginners and people with busy schedules. Headspace also offers SOS exercises to help services users calm down when needed. Headspace is a paid subscription service, but it offers a two-week free trial period.
Spotify is best known as a music streaming service, but it also offers a range of podcasts and guided meditation resources. Users can choose from a wide range of guided meditation recordings, or they can select a mood or context-based ambient music playlist to serve as a soundtrack for self-guided meditation.
Calm is an app-based service providing stress and sleep focused guided meditation tracks. Calm is ideal for beginners and is free to download, but certain sessions are blocked by a paywall.
Buddhify is a meditation and mindfulness app designed for busy people. Buddhify offers traditional meditations, but its focus is on-the-go mindfulness and meditation. Buddhify does charge an up-front cost, but it doesn’t rely on a subscription model like many other services do,
The Aura app is available on Android and iOS and provides a range of mindfulness meditations, short stories, and music and nature sounds tracks. The app also offers life coaching features and an easy-to-use digital gratitude journey.
Stop, Breathe & Think
Stop, Breathe & Think is a meditation and emotional check-in app program. It’s compatible with Amazon Echo or Dot, and it offers tailored sessions for children, teenagers, and adults, with occupation-specific activities available for teaches. Stop, Breathe & Think resources range from guided audio tracks, to acupressure and yoga videos, to mindful games, so there’s something for every person and every level of ability.
There are a range of free to access YouTube channels that provide meditation and relaxation encouragement and guidance.
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