Meditation has been practiced for centuries by many different cultures, in a variety of forms. And even today, it is still hard to quantify the benefits of meditation that are sustained into old age. But talk to anyone who practices it, and they’ll tell you. So, in today’s article, we wanted to go through the top benefits of meditation, as found by those who practice it as well as observed by researchers.
TRAINING YOUR BRAIN
Meditation is a method of training your brain to focus on one thing and redirect all your thoughts to the subject you are thinking about. Over the past few decades, the popularity of meditation has grown significantly among people of all ages. The key reason is that people now realize that meditation has both physical and mental health benefits that are sustained for long periods. People use meditation for all kinds of reasons; some want to increase their self-awareness and others want to reduce stress. But a great majority of people today use mediation to boost self-confidence, develop a positive outlook on life, improve their sleep, and even increase their pain tolerance. Here we provide you with an analysis of the benefits of meditation.
- Lowers stress. Perhaps the most common reason why people practice meditation is to lower the level of stress. There are ample studies showing that regular practice of meditation can relieve stress and improve the quality of life. Stress, whether caused by mental or physical reasons, if not managed, can be physically harmful as it is associated with the release of many inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, depression, loss of concentration, and fatigue. However, research shows that some of the benefits of meditation include stress relief and improvement of the symptoms of other stress-related disorders.
- Reduces anxiety. As we know, anxiety and stress are not the same thing. Meditation allows one to cope and react positively to anxiety, whether or not it is brought on by specific stressors. In order to attain the anxiety-relieving benefits, one has to practice meditation regularly.
- Enhances mental health. Some types of meditation can lead to improved self-confidence and a positive outlook on life. Studies show that regular meditation can lower the symptoms of depression, reduce the frequency of negative thoughts, and generate more positivity in life.
- Improve self-awareness. Meditation is one of the best ways to improve self-awareness. Regular meditation helps you develop a better understanding of yourself. At the end of the day, meditation reduces the feeling of loneliness and brings contentment.
- Increases concentration and attention span. Regular meditation is known to increase focus and the duration of the attention span. People who practice meditation generally tend to be more focused and accurate when completing a task. The enhanced attention and memory can be derived even after practicing meditation for just 13 minutes a day for 8 weeks.
- Reduce memory loss. More evidence suggests that meditation can also help prevent age-related memory loss. Studies show that meditating individuals tend to have improved performance on neuropsychological testing. Further, despite advanced age, these individuals have excellent mental clarity and are more lucid and functional.
- Generates empathy and kindness. In general, it has been observed that people who practice meditation tend to have more empathy and kindness towards others. These individuals tend to impart positive feelings to others, are quick to forgive, and move on with life. Overall, meditation tends to improve interpersonal interactions and exudes positivity.
- Improves sleep hygiene. Another benefit of regular meditation is that it improves sleep hygiene. If you struggle with sleep, then meditation can help you achieve deep sleep faster and stay asleep longer. In addition, the sleep is peaceful and devoid of runaway thoughts. Plus, meditation is known to relax the body, ease tension in the muscles, and induce a peaceful state, all factors that are necessary for good quality sleep.
- Lower pain. The perception of pain is closely linked to the mind and can be elevated when you are under stress. Research shows that meditation can help increase the pain threshold and/or reduce the perception of pain in the brain. In the long run, this also leads to an improved quality of life and a better mood.
- Lower blood pressure. Meditation is known to lower blood pressure by easing stress and reducing strain on the heart. Countless studies have shown that regular meditation can slightly lower blood pressure or reduce the need for blood pressure medications. By lowering blood pressure, you also reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.
HOW DOES MEDITATION WORK?
The exact way meditation works is still unknown, but researchers believe that it causes a decreased release of inflammatory chemicals or cytokines, which are known to contribute to a whole host of problems in the human body. There is also some evidence that meditation may be modulating nerve pathways, resulting in diminished pain. There are many reasons to start meditating.
WHERE CAN I PRACTICE MEDITATION?
The great thing about meditation is that it can be performed almost anywhere and at almost any time. There is no need for specialized equipment or space, and you can start by practicing for only a few minutes every day. To gain the most benefits of meditation, select one of the following styles of meditation.
- Focused attention helps you concentrate your attention on a single sound, thought, item, or visual image. This form of meditation teaches you to get rid of distractions by focusing on a sound, breathing, or singing a mantra.
- Open monitoring meditation style encourages wider awareness of the train of thought, adjacent environment, and a sense of self. One tries to become aware of self by suppressing negative feelings, thoughts, or impulses.
The only way to know which style is ideal for you is to try out the two exercises several times. If your home or office environments don’t lend themselves to decent amounts of quiet alone time, consider enrolling in a meditation class. This can also help improve your chances of success in the presence of a supportive network. Finally, if you are always busy during the daytime, consider waking up a few minutes early to take advantage of the quiet mornings. One of the many reasons to start meditating is that it can help you stay positive for the rest of the day.
Meditation is an art that can be practiced by most people. There are many styles and benefits of meditation. There is no need for any fancy equipment – just a soft and comfortable mat and a quiet room. If practiced regularly, meditation has durable physical and mental health benefits. For those wishing to start out, there are many support groups and meditation courses that can teach you the basics. Talk to the professionals at Cano Health to learn more.