Today I will be discussing meditation benefits for mental health.
Most people are aware of the need to do physical exercises to stay healthy and fit, but many fitness freaks are not too clued up when it comes to exercising their mind.
Like any muscle in the body, the more you train your mind, the stronger it becomes. You cannot touch or see mental health, but you can certainly feel it – it’s silent killer, and is massively on the rise due to the global pandemic.
Meditation is an age-old practice of controlling your mind and thoughts. When practiced regular, it does wonders for mental health.
It is a method of gaining insight into one’s own mind and inner self. When practiced regular it will quiet your mind, expand your awareness and open doors of improvement beyond your imagination.
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What is meditation?
So, let’s start with the basics and explore what meditation actually is and what it involves.
Meditation is a practice in which a person aims to focus their attention and slow down or stop racing thoughts to achieve emotional calmness and mental clarity. It is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine and can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
Many people think it’s about completely clearing the mind of all thought but it’s more about bringing non-judgmental awareness to one’s present state. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and has its roots in various religious traditions.
While meditation is still firmly connected to spirituality, many people now practice it independently of any religious beliefs. There are many different types of meditation including Mantra Meditation, Visualisation Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation which is probably the most widely recognised.
Meditation practices generally involve deep breathing, focused attention, noticing sensations in the body, and sitting or lying in a comfortable position. There is often a set amount of time for the practice and it is usually done in a quiet space, though not always.
The below are excellent books on meditation that I couldn’t recommend enough:
Different types of meditation
Understand the types of meditation and build your practice around forms of meditation that appeal to you. Common elements of meditation include: relaxed breathing, a comfortable sitting position, a quiet location, and focused attention – all the forms below can be guided or unguided.
Guided meditation involves following a verbal prompt that guides you through various actions throughout your meditation, whereas unguided meditation consists of sitting or lying in silence and utilising the components of meditation to meditate on your own.
There are many ways to meditate, here’s an overview of a few popular ones:
Has existed for thousands of years and has its roots in Hindu and Buddhist teachings. The main objective of mindfulness is to relax and calm your mind by focusing on the present moment. To do a basic mindfulness meditation:
- 1. Find a quiet and comfortable spot to sit down, and then close your eyes.
- 2. Focus on your breathing, slowly inhaling and exhaling all the way.
- 3. If your mind begins to wander, notice this without judgement, and simply refocus your attention on your breathing.
- 4. Repeat this process for the allotted time (eg. five minutes). As you improve in your practice, you will sharpen your ability to quiet your mind and take control of your thoughts when they wander off.
- In this form of meditation, people choose a word or phrase to focus on and repeat as they meditate. It is a good option for people who struggle with silence or focusing solely on their breath. The classic mantra used in Mantra meditation is “Om,” which is a sacred spiritual symbol in Indian religions, and “at peace” or “calm” are popular choices in English. However, you can choose any sound, word, or phrase you connect with to be your mantra.
- Metta meditation is a traditional Buddhist practice that aims to promote kindness and compassion for all living beings. A meta-analysis concluded that it can enhance positive emotions in daily life, and may even be able to reduce the perception of physical pain. To practice Metta meditation, pick a phrase that promotes kindness such as “May I be happy and healthy,” and repeat it to yourself as you meditate. Continue repeating this phrase as you think of other people in your life who you would like to send this message to.
- To incorporate visualisation into your practice, focus on a scene that brings you peace, such as a sandy beach or your childhood home. Visualise it in as much detail as possible, utilising all your senses, as you meditate. You may also visualize yourself reaching specific goals, which can improve your sense of motivation.
Progressive muscle relaxation
- Progressive muscle relaxation focuses your attention on your body and areas of tension in order to slowly relax each muscle. To practice, focus on different areas of your body, and pay attention to how they feel. Work your way up from your toes to your head, tensing and relaxing them one muscle group or body part at a time.
- Movement meditation is great for people who have difficulty sitting still but who want to have a regular meditation practice. It exists in many established forms, including Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong, but can also be as simple as a mindful nature walk. Even something like picking up a basketball and repeatedly practicing your shot can be a mediation if you get lost in the focus of it and stop thinking about anything else.
Meditation Benefits for Mental Health – Ultimate Guide!
Below is some of the benefits of meditation I discovered when researching, but keep in mind meditation is not the only solution for these health conditions or issues outlined.
Make sure to work with your doctor or healthcare professional to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan of need be.
Decreases anxiety and depression
Meditation has powerful anti-anxiety benefits. One of the main reasons people meditate is to help quiet a loud, overactive mind. Meditation allows us a break from racing thoughts that anxiety often brings. A 2013 study suggests that meditation can reduce anxiety by almost 40%.
According to the NCCIH, there is evidence that meditation can improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. By practicing mindfulness meditation regularly, you might be better equipped at regulating your emotions and managing the worries or thoughts that contribute to depression or anxiety.
Additionally, Harvard Health Publishing states meditation has been found to change brain regions that are linked to depression.
You might already know that meditation can help reduce stress, but we couldn’t cover this topic without stating it. The practice can leave you feeling calmer and more relaxed.
The Mayo Clinic says that by meditating, you “may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.” And because we know that a build-up of stress can lead to burnout, combating stress with meditation might help set you up for a healthier life.
Regular meditation has been shown to help boost your immune system. Researchers found that meditation increases electrical activity in the left side of the brain – which is responsible for your immune system.
It was also found that those who meditate have higher counts of antibodies in their blood, which helps fight illness.
A 2019 study found that brief and daily meditation decreased mood disturbance.
Additionally, the study found that short daily meditation practices can have similar behavioural effects as long and intense meditation sessions, which is good news if you’re just starting out with your practice or can only meditate for a couple of moments a day.
Helps with sleep
According to Harvard Health Publishing, mindfulness meditation “involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response, using whatever technique feels right to you.”
If you suffer from chronic aches, pains, and headaches, meditation could help! Scientists have found a link between mindfulness meditation and pain relief.
While the exact reason behind this still remains somewhat unclear, many health experts recommend regular meditation in addition to medical treatments for chronic pain.
Want to feel more creative at work? Start meditating! Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. Meditation also helps us separate our emotions from our work, which helps us think more clearly and develop new ideas.
Lowers blood pressure
While this one is up for a bit of debate, most experts agree that meditation can be a good way to help lower blood pressure in addition to medical treatment, a healthy diet, and exercise. While meditation might not directly cause your blood pressure to lower, the practice helps fight stress and anxiety – which can both be culprits of high blood pressure.
Daily meditation can help you perform better at work! Research found that meditation helps increase your focus and attention and improves your ability to multitask. Meditation helps clear our minds and focus on the present moment – which gives you a huge productivity boost.
Improves social wellbeing
Meditation has been shown to help individuals build better relationships. Meditation teaches us how to be more present in the moment, which is extremely helpful for relationships.
Boosts emotional intelligence
Many of us have troubles understanding our emotions. Mindfulness meditation helps teach us how to be aware of our feelings and emotions and how to process them better. Practicing meditation changes how you think and helps you learn to understand your emotions without having to act upon them.
Meditation Benefits for Mental Health – Final thoughts
While meditation isn’t a magic solution for all health issues – when practiced regular, it can definitely help you feel healthier, happier and improve your mental health If you’ve never meditated before, start slow and ease yourself into the practice. Give yourself some love and relaxation, and try meditating today.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years! If you have any questions please reach out to me via email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about subjects such as spiritual growth, self-discovery, wellbeing, addiction recovery and mental health. Please connect with me on my journey and join the community!