Meditation is an ancient practice that has been around for hundreds of years, but in the years of social media it has been popularized worldwide. Many wellness influencers and bloggers have touted meditation as their key for reducing stress, but meditation has many other benefits.
According to Psychology Today, “the word meditation stems from meditatum, a Latin term that means ‘to ponder.’ Through the practice of meditation, we can seek to find a better connection with our body in the everyday moments that we often let pass us by, and create stronger awareness for how our emotions influence our behavior.” If you’re interested in meditation, but want to know more about the benefits, read on.
There are so many reasons to start incorporating meditation into your daily routine. But the hardest part of starting a meditation practice is the actually getting started. The most frequent complaints about starting a meditation practice are time constraints and people being generally unsure if they’re doing it correctly. When people get frustrated that they’re not “doing it right”, they’re likely to give up before they’ve even gotten started. But meditation doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming to make it work. In fact, it’s super easy to begin what could become a lifelong practice.
Some days it’s easier to meditate than others. The irony is that the days that you need meditation the most, on your most stressful days, will often be the ones where it is hardest to do. Im suggests not being too hard on yourself if you have an “off” day. “Stick with it and don’t judge when it’s good or bad,” Im says. “Every sit, every day, is different.” If you have a day where, try as you might, you just can’t focus on your breathing, then save your energy for the next day.
The benefits of meditation beyond stress relief:
- Calms anxiety
- Promotes emotional wellbeing
- Lengthens attention span
- Improves sleep
- Helps control pain
Meditation allows you to focus deeply and creates the mental space to process difficult feelings in a healthy way. Most meditation also includes deep, parasympathetic breaths which are proven to reduce heart rate and anxiety.
Promotes emotional wellbeing
Meditation also reduces the inflammation of chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines are vital for the human body, but when they become inflamed they can interfere with brain health. This can increase fear and anxiety. So reduction of inflammatory cytokines gives you a more sunny disposition.
Lengthens attention span
Your meditation practice increases the strength and endurance of your attention span, like a workout for you mind! According to researchers at Harvard University our minds are lost in thought 47 percent of the time. Meditation reduces the lost in thought process and allows you to clear your mind.
Meditation also helps to improve sleep because it promotes an overall sense of relaxation. This allows you to catch the zzz’s you need to stay on top of your game. Struggling with meditation before sleep? Try downloading a sleep meditation playlist on YouTube or an app.
Helps control pain
It changes your perception of physical pain, like post-workout soreness. Meditation helps release endorphins which are natural pain relievers! According to lifestyle medical expert Jane Ehrman, MEd., uscles and tissues around your joints are more relaxed, and your brain can be in a calmer state so you’ll feel less pain.
The meditation craze is catching on, and for good reason. Taking a moment or two to meditate can produce several mental, emotional and physical health benefits. As we wrap up the year, many of us are thinking about how we can be better in all aspects of our life: relationships, work and self-care. But the act of meditation is easier said than done. Most of us struggle to completely quiet our minds and let the positive effects of meditation take over. But the proof is in the pudding.
Meditation can open your heart
It’s easy to be selfish with your emotions, and quite frankly sometimes you have to be. But sometimes we need an honest friend or life-changing moment to realize that our selfish tendencies may be causing more harm than good. Through meditation, you are able to take time to reflect on your current situation and get a better grasp on how you can change the state you’re in.
Dr. Tina Chadda, founder of Akasha Meditation, believes that meditation can significantly change our perspective in difficult life situations and relationships. “Forgiveness issues and having a hard time moving on from a difficult relationship fall under the umbrella of life stress. Meditation makes our brain healthier and enhances our ability to function in everyday life. This helps us navigate difficult emotions like anger, sadness, grief or fear with more ease,” she says.
By having a clearer focus, you can be more accepting of whatever the world throws at you. Meditating can help you center your thoughts about a sticky situation, and you’ll be able to handle it in a mature and thoughtful way.
Meditation can relieve stress
Stress comes in all shapes and sizes. And for that reason (and many others), it’s hard to manage. Fortunately, meditating can help relieve your stress and lead you to a more balanced lifestyle. “Meditation can center, anchor or stabilize your heart and mind. When we are stabilized or balanced, we are less stressed. Meditation makes the brain stronger, which allows us to build resilience to withstand difficult situations,” Dr. Chadda says.
Think about it: Your heart, mind and body are completely out of control when you’re stressed. And that in turn stresses your body out even more. If you can find a way to stabilize your stress to a healthy level, you can be your best self.
Meditation can maximize your potential
Imagine if you were stress-free, patient and forgiving. Now think about what you could accomplish in that life. We thrive in situations where we have an abundance of opportunity, support and positivity; meditation has been proven to make that happen. It’s okay to be led by your emotions, but we shouldn’t be controlled by them. Meditation stabilizes our emotions and allows us to think rationally about situations with an open heart and open mind.
There are a number of people who have changed their lives for the better after making meditation a part of their daily routine. “Through mindfulness meditation, one client of mine discovered several insights that helped her business. Through her meditation practice, she developed her intuition, and within a few months, went on to build up her work life into a multi-million dollar business,” Dr. Chadda says.
Not all of us will go from zero to hero after making meditation a part of our day-to-day life, but there’s a strong chance our life will improve in one way or another. Who knows what could happen? Possibly renewed friendships, bold career moves or some peace of mind.
Meditation can heal you
Consistent meditation can produce serious health benefits. To most people, it makes sense that meditation relieves stress and fosters inner peace. What most people are unaware of are the numerous ways that meditation can positively impact your health. Actually, the root meaning of meditation is “to heal” or “to cure.” “Meditation can strengthen the immune system, decrease high cholesterol levels, alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and alleviate certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. In some cases, meditation has also been shown to have anti-aging effects,” Dr. Chadda says.
It’s clear that meditation is good for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get started. We all know going to the gym is good for us but let’s face it, some days it’s difficult to get there. That applies here as well. But Dr. Chadda recommends trying it for three months. It will likely not change your life on day one, but like anything else, practice makes perfect.