Since the pandemic, many people have turned to meditation to help relieve stress and anxiety. There are many health benefits of meditation. Having a daily meditation practice can help promote a sense of calm that allows us to be more present during life’s challenges.
The Elements of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation but generally most forms of meditation will involve the following elements:
Mindful breathing – During many meditations, concentrating on the breath is a main focus. Staying aware of our breaths going in and out can help us stay in the present.
A relaxed setting – The optimal place to meditate is somewhere quiet with few distractions. Keeping phones, computers, and television screens turned off may make it easier to meditate.
A comfortable position – Meditation can be done sitting or lying down. No matter what position you choose to meditate in, it is important to feel as physically relaxed as possible. If you are sitting or standing then trying to maintain good posture while meditating may help increase the effectiveness of your practice.
One of the most popular meditation techniques in the United States is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is thought of as the ability to be present and to recognize your thoughts without judgement. Mindfulness meditation focuses on a combination of concentration and awareness.
This form of meditation often involves concentrating on an object or focal point while taking deep breaths and observing the thoughts that pass through your mind and any feelings or bodily sensations that may occur. There are many benefits of mindfulness meditation. Cultivating a mindfulness practice can help counteract the swirling thoughts and feelings of anxiety that you may encounter during the day.
Guided meditation is another popular form of meditation. During a session of guided meditation a narrator goes through different breathing exercises and mental prompts with the goal of helping the practitioner center themselves to increase a sense of presence during the meditation and beyond. Guided meditation is a good form of meditation for beginners since someone who is more experienced with meditation directs the sessions.
Do not let cost be a barrier if you are interested in guided meditation. There are many inexpensive phone apps for guided meditation. You can also find many free meditation sessions with a quick internet search for “free guided meditations.”
There are many meditation benefits no matter what form of meditation that you decide to practice. Here are some of the positive effects that meditation can have on our minds.
- Builds stress management skills
- Increases our ability to stay present
- Helps decrease negative emotions
- Widens our capacity for patience
- Helps us gain perspective
Discover the specific ways that meditation can have a positive impact on our mental health.
Reduce Your Stress
Meditation has the potential to maintain our mental health, elevate our mood, and increase our overall health by helping reduce stress.
When we are stressed our body increases its levels of cortisol, a hormone that can cause inflammation and have other negative effects on our health if it is produced in excess.
In recent history, studies have shown that regular meditation can help reduce the inflammatory results of cortisol. In short, meditation actually has the potential to cut down on stress.
Cut Down On Anxiety
The pandemic and the constant news cycle has caused many people to experience increasing levels of anxiety. If this sounds like you then you may want to try meditation to help decrease your anxiety. Meditation is not a replacement for therapy but recent studies do show that it has great potential to lessen our anxiety. Some experts even believe that meditation can help reverse some of the cognitive patterns that lead to worrying and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Strengthen Your Attention Span
If you have trouble focusing during work or school then you might want to consider meditation to increase your concentration abilities. Focusing during meditation sessions helps us practice sustained concentration which can do wonders for our attention span, even when we aren’t meditating.
Reduce Memory Loss
We all want to slow down memory loss as we age. Recently studies have shown that meditation may help increase our clarity and our ability to remember. Some experts believe that meditation can even help improve the memory of dementia patients. According to a case study, Kirtan Kriya, a particular type of meditation involving the repetition of four specific sounds, seems to have demonstrated particular effectiveness in reversing memory loss.
Improve Your Sleep
Getting a consistent amount of sleep every night has proven to be important to our mental health. Many experts believe that meditation can help improve the quality of a practitioner’s sleep because it helps redirect and reduce swirling thoughts that can lead to insomnia. Meditation also can help relax our bodies and release physical tension. This can help us get to sleep more quickly.
Lessen Your Depression
Meditation may help be able to lessen the effects of depression by teaching us self acceptance and making us more aware of our thoughts and feelings. Depression often involves overwhelming negative thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, and a lack of self worth. By practicing meditation we can learn to pay attention to our thoughts and acknowledge them without passing judgement on ourselves.
Learning to be more present from practicing meditation can also help keep us from jumping to negative conclusions or needlessly predicting what might happen in the future. This can help us feel more positive about ourselves and others which may lead to a reduction in some feelings of depression.
The effects of meditation can help us feel more empathetic towards others and lead to greater self-acceptance and self-awareness. Meditation may be able to strengthen our understanding of ourselves, which can help us understand the reasons that we act the way we do. If we uncover the motivations behind our thoughts and actions then we may become better at problem-solving, identifying the ways that we can grow into the people we would like to become.