Meditation has long been discussed as a practice individuals use to increase their state of awareness and clear their minds.
Sometimes, it does not have to be a tragic event to trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response but also those daily hassles. You cannot sleep as you wish, have an unexpected expense on the horizon, your pet got sick, etc. When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, losing control of your life can be easy, especially if the source of suffering is profound. So, how can you redirect your thoughts and find yourself in this turmoil of emotions? You can melt away the emotional and physical stress by practicing meditation – the art of calming your mind and body. And if you know little about this topic, do not get discouraged.
Here are some valuable insights on meditation and its science-backed benefits for psychological health:
What is meditation?
Meditation is often believed to be only about the mind, but it is a mind-body practice that implies sitting in a relaxed position and concentrating on being mindful of the present. It may be hard to believe, but our inability to live in the present moment is the most common cause of a cluttered mind. Meditation has been shown to produce changes in consciousness, making people more aware of themselves and their surroundings.
Meditation comes in various forms, from mindfulness practices and mantra meditation to breathing-based meditation and nature-based visualization. Besides, you can practice it alone or opt for group meditation conducted by a therapist. We know that the sound “ooommm” sounds familiar to you, but there are many other sounds you can focus on during meditation. You can also listen to relaxing Zen music or nature sounds to stop following each new thought coming to the surface. Sound variants are limitless – you only have to find one that aligns with your needs and meditation style. Plus, you can always download meditation music to discover sounds that calm you down, so if you ever decide to take the meditation route, you have many options.
Health benefits of meditation
Meditation has become increasingly popular as more and more individuals have started to reap its various benefits.
This is one of the most common reasons people turn to meditation. Mental and physical stress affects more and more people, regardless of age, occupation, and gender. High-stress levels can impact your daily life in a way you cannot even imagine, making it almost impossible to perform tasks that sometimes seem more than manageable. When stressed, the stress hormone cortisol takes control of your mind, making you overthink and even fear for your own life. This releases the body’s stress or fight-or-run response, which causes excessive agitation.
Meditation can release, in turn, the opposite – the body’s relaxation response, making it possible to fight against daily stress and any anxious thought traveling your mind.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to boost mental health and reduce stress. It can reduce the fight-and-flight response, making stress management possible. Regular meditation can also improve cardiovascular health and the natural body’s defenses.
Better focus and concentration
How many times did you not happen to lose concentration when you needed it the most? It can happen to everyone, but you need to take steps when this becomes a habit. Practicing meditation is a simple method to regain your focus and live in the present moment. Studies show that there is a connection between processing new information and mindfulness, so if you hear someone saying that meditation has nothing to do with concentration, do not be afraid to contradict them. Mindfulness meditation can also improve decision-making, making you more aware of life. Thinking about practicing it? Well, there is nothing complicated about it. If you can relax your mind, you can do it almost everywhere, including in the comfort of your home. But if you are curious to dig deeper into this and take your meditation experience to the next level, we recommend working with a therapist. Depending on your needs, a professional will choose what type of meditation suits you better and promise faster results. Whatever your options, learn to have patience because immediate results are not always possible.
Anxiety and depression management
Meditation is perhaps the lightest way to fight against depression, as it does not involve medication or hospitalization. But if your case is severe, it has to be guided by a professional therapist who can choose a suitable form of meditation for you. Meditation can also be an adjuvant treatment, part of a comprehensive psychological health treatment plan. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a form of therapy commonly used by patients with issues in relaxing their minds. It can also minimize depression symptoms like low mood, sleep deprivation, or loss of appetite. Remember that anxious thoughts can fuel depression, so if you ever experience one (or more) of the symptoms above, do not overlook them thinking that they will get better in time. In most cases, they do not, and patients face even more severe conditions. If you discover you have a medical condition beforehand, meditation can be your only form of treatment or, at least, a light alternative to medication.
Can generate kindness
We know what you may think: what does meditation have to do with kindness? Well, a lot! Some forms of meditation can enhance positive actions towards others and contribute to self-love. For example, Metta or how it is commonly called – loving-kindness meditation- is a meditation type that promotes forgiveness and kindness. It is so encouraging that there are such practices that can make people compassionate about themselves and others. Thus, if you feel that your negative emotions overwhelm you and affect your relationships, consider practicing loving-kindness meditation and do it for a long time. As with other treatments or therapies, you cannot expect miracles from the first try.
Other significant benefits of meditation include:
- longer attention span
- stronger immune system
- increased self-awareness
- addiction management
- improved sleep
- lower blood pressure
Meditation is an incredible practice you can try alone or with a therapist. Either way, it will bring surprising health benefits to you.