Meditation balls, also known as Chinese medicine balls, are a pair of metal balls that can be held in one hand. These hand balls are rotated gradually within the palm of your hand, the relative positions of both balls constantly switching. Initially, relaxation balls should maintain contact even as they are rotated. With practice, your hands eventually learn to switch these balls without making any contact between them. Zen meditation balls are believed to improve brain function while exercising your hand muscles, although this sentiment is not backed by any concrete evidence. Some people also believe that meditation balls help to reduce stress. They are hence referred to as worry balls.
While these Chinese balls are referred to as “meditation balls”, the use of them is more focused on stress reduction and relaxation, so they could be used as an adjunct to actual sitting meditation practice. It would be distracting to use these during an actual meditation session, where the focus is on mindfulness of the breath.
History of Zen meditation balls
Baoding balls date back to the Ming dynasty. They supposedly originate from the small Chinese town of Baoding. Back then, soldiers and the general public exercised their hands using walnuts. This continued until iron balls were eventually manufactured. Chinese medicine balls are just one of the three Baoding treasures used by individuals from diverse classes in society. Both emperors and paupers use them. Back then, Baoding balls were created using iron balls that also doubled as weapons.
These hand balls are presently made using a variety of materials such as marble, agate, stone and solid jade. However, steel is predominantly used to make Zen meditation balls. Steel balls are usually hollow inside. When these balls are manipulated, they produce a pleasant chime. Stress balls vary in weight and texture. Metal is the choice material for most craftsmen since it allows the men to engrave the Baoding balls with beautiful designs. Stone balls are entirely solid, making them much heavier. Most folk use these balls to work out their hand muscles. However, stone balls will likely chip when dropped, so be careful when handling them.
Benefits and uses of Chinese medicine balls
There’s a reason why the Chinese people have been using relaxation balls for years. Doctors in China sometimes recommend Baoding balls to fatigue patients, claiming that the hand balls will activate different pressure points along the palm of your hand. Consequently, internal energy will flow uninterrupted. Patients who use stress balls have reported experiencing immense benefits, some of which include:
- Relaxing joints and muscles
- Relieving stress and anxiety
- Improving memory
- Enhancing the quality of sleep
Some Zen meditation balls sport minuscule bumps on their surfaces. Some meditators claim that the pressure you feel when these bumps touch your skin enhances blood circulation.
The gorgeous hand-made designs that are drawn on some cloisonné balls depict characters and symbols associated with health, harmony, wellness and a myriad of positive forces. Prolonged use of these hand balls not only improves your memory and sharpens your intelligence, it also relieves stress. In popular culture, worry balls have been depicted in numerous films from around the globe. These include Fearless (a Chinese flick), Labyrinth, the X-Men movie franchise, The Pacific and Orphan Black. Baoding balls also come in handy during physical therapy since patients use them to exercise tissues around the wrist, hand and arms.
How to use Zen meditation balls
If you’d like to incorporate relaxation balls into your daily routine, first identify the kind of hand balls you’d like. As you roll these balls within your palm, you’ll be sending positive signals to your brain. This allows your mind to let go of those thoughts that make you anxious or worried. Experienced ball handlers are able to rotate 3 or 4 balls at once. By increasing the degree of difficulty, you further boost your dexterity and concentration. Your hand strength also improves immensely.
While getting your very own Zen meditation balls is not necessary, it may encourage you to want to commence or deepen a genuine meditation practice. If you need guidance, try guided meditation. There are numerous apps you could download to start experiencing meditation like never before. The Mindworks: Guided Meditation App comes highly recommended. Download it on your smartphone and enjoy its wide array of meditation resources, including Mind Talks from revered instructors from around the globe.