The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation, not to be confused with prayer, is a disciplinary practice meant to calm the mind, center the soul, and help clarify things in our lives that benefit from reflection. It has incredible benefits that can serve in strengthening your life.
Meditation, like working out or marital arts, is a discipline that has many benefits. The practice has been around for thousands of years, and it is commonly associated with certain religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.
Although in its religious contexts it is often used en route to enlightenment, self-realization, or closer to a god or gods, meditation can provide incredible help to people suffering from various things.
Thankfully, there have been many scientific studies over the years to prove the benefit of this practice, and it can quite possibly change your outlook and lifestyle in many ways.
1) It Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress reduction alone is a reason to practice meditation. Numerous studies over the years have shown time and time again the major impact meditating has on stress and anxiety.
Mental and physical stresses cause heightened levels of cortisol, a hormone that produces many of the ill and harmful effects of stress and anxiety. This can interrupt sleep, cause depression, increase blood pressure, contribute to fatigue, and even promote muddy or cloudy thinking. Meditating can help lower this hormone to keep your physical nature healthy and in control.
The practice of various meditation methods has been been proven to lower various symptoms of high anxiety like phobias, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, panic attacks, and others, for example.
2) It Encourages Mental and Emotional Health
Elongated practicing of meditation can lead to an improved self-image and even tackle layers of depression.
Numerous studies have shown long-term effects of meditating and found decreased depression to be a common product of the practice. An inflammatory chemical called cytokine, which is released in response to stress, can affect mood, which may lead to depression. A review of several studies suggests meditation may reduce depression by decreasing these chemicals.
Some forms of meditation help you develop a better understanding of yourself, helping you to grow in this awareness. Self-inquiry meditation, for example, aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you.
Other meditative practices can help you identify harmful and self-defeating thoughts and steer them toward more constructive patterns, so that you are able to prevent those thoughts from taking over and controlling your life.
3) It Strengthens Memory and Attention
Long periods of meditating strengthen the mind's ability to pay attention. In the same way weight lifting strengthens your muscles, meditation strengthens your memory and attention span.
Studies show that the effects of meditation go much further than calming the mind and relieving stress. It can truly help us focus on work assignments better, prevent our minds from wandering, perform memory tasks, increase attention and memory, and even help prevent Dementia and Alzheimer's.
4) It Can Generate Compassion
There are even some types of meditation that may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and those around you. Metta is a type of meditation that helps develop kindness and positive thinking towards yourself.
Over time and through great practice, this kindness and positivity reflects externally, beginning with family and friends, then coworkers, colleagues and acquaintances, and finally even to your enemies. Further studies show that the positive feelings developed in Metta meditation can improve social anxiety, reduce marital conflict, assist in anger management, and help in other high stress situations.
5) It May Help With Addiction and Pain
The discipline of meditation may help you break certain dependencies by stimulating self-control and learning to become more aware of trigger points for addictive behaviors or even the perception of pain.
Research has shown that meditation can help redirect attention, improve willpower, control emotions and impulses, and become more understanding of the causes behind addictive behaviors. One study showed 19 recovering alcoholics how to meditate, and these participants got significantly better at controlling their cravings and the craving-related stresses. Other studies have shown that this same increase in improved willpower and control can help with chronic or intermittent pain as well. One large study of 3,500 participants found that habitual meditation resulted in less complaints of ongoing pain.
Further Benefits of Meditation
These are not the only benefits of regular meditation. Some studies even suggest that a consistent discipline could result in better sleep, decreased blood pressure, and all around improved psychological, neurological, and cardiovascular health.
There are six popular types of meditation (Listed below) that can help serve as a starting place, and each of them contain their own unique benefits. Why not look into them and begin a walk to a healthier way of seeing the self and the world around you!