If you are stressed, anxious, tense, and worried, just a few minutes of meditation can help you restore your peace. Meditation trains your mind to redirect your thoughts and focus. Slowly, but surely people are discovering the benefits of meditation.
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People often use it to increase awareness of themselves and their surroundings while others use it to develop concentration and reduce stress. Other than these, there are several health benefits of meditation. Let’s look at them one by one
Table of Contents
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has become popular in highly-stressed modern times as it encourages a positive mood, healthy sleep patterns, self-discipline, and even increased pain tolerance. Here’s the first benefit:
1. Reduces Stress
One of the most common reasons why people start meditation is to reduce stress. According to a review, meditation really does work. Whenever you are stressed either mentally or physically, a stress hormone called cortisol increases in your body. Further, this releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
If this goes on for too long, it can make you anxious and depressed, disrupt your sleep, increase your blood pressure, and create mental fog and fatigue. In another 8-week study, it is stated that mindfulness meditation can reduce inflammation caused by stress.
Meditation can also improve symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress.
2. Controls Anxiety
Today’s lifestyle and work-related pressure can induce stress in a lot of people. Meditation is a great stress buster, which means a meditation practitioner can deal with anxiety better.
According to a meta-analysis, almost 1,300 adults found that meditation is a great way to reduce stress. More importantly, these people had the highest levels of anxiety.
According to another study, 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation helped people with a generalized anxiety disorder to become more positive people and improved their stress coping mechanism.
Not only this, mediation can help in reducing pain. According to a study, 47 people with chronic pain felt relief after completing an 8-week meditation program. Also, they noticed improvements in anxiety and depression.
Even yoga is a great stress-buster as it is a physical activity, which releases endorphins and it is a meditative practice. Mediation is great for job-related stress and anxiety. An 8-week use of a mindful meditation app can reduce stress and instill feelings of reduced stress and well-being.
3. Enhances Self-awareness
Meditation can help you understand yourself better and it is one of the benefits of meditation. Self-inquiry is a form of meditation that helps you with self-discovery. There are other forms of meditation that help you pinpoint self-defeating and harmful thoughts. The idea behind this is to find the pattern of negative thoughts and change them into constructive patterns.
A study conducted on 153 adults proved that when they used a mindfulness meditation app for 2 weeks, they felt less lonely and improved their social contact. Moreover, if you meditate regularly, you can cultivate problem-solving skills.
4. Increases Attention Span
The overstimulation from various short-form content apps has reduced our attention span. However, with focused-attention meditation, we can fix our attention span issues. Look at it as weight lifting for your attention span, meaning it can increase the endurance and strength of your attention.
A study found that when people listened to a meditation tape, they finished a task with more accuracy and attention, as compared to people in a control group. Another study revealed that people who practiced meditation regularly were better at visual tasks and had a greater attention span than people who didn’t practice meditation. One review showed that mediation can reverse the effects of mind-wandering, poor attention, and worrying. Just meditating for only 13 minutes continuously for 8 weeks can improve memory and attention. These studies show us that with different types of meditation, you can build an ability to redirect and maintain attention.
5. May Reduce Age-related Memory Loss
With age, people slowly tend to forget more. Improvements in clarity of thinking and clarity might help in keeping your mind young. Kirtan Kriya is one such type of mediation that can help with age-related memory loss.
This meditation combines mantras or chants with a repetitive movement of fingers to focus on your thoughts. According to a study, people with age-related memory loss who practiced Kirtan Kriya witnessed an improvement in neuropsychological tests. A different study found that when older people practiced different styles of meditation, it increased their memory, attention, and mental quickness. Not only this, but mediation can also help patients improve memory in dementia patients. Overall, regular meditation can boost mental clarity, and fight dementia, and age-related memory loss.
6. Can Generate Kindness
There are several types of meditation that can boost positive feelings toward yourself as well as others. One such type of meditation is Metta. It is known for increasing loving-kindness qualities in a person. It starts with kind feelings and thoughts towards yourself first.
With regular practice, you can spread this forgiveness and kindness to others. It can begin with friends, then acquaintances, and finally enemies. According to a meta-analysis of 22 studies, Metta can boost people’s compassion.
In another study done on 100 people, it was found that the benefits from Metta meditation were dose-dependent. Simply put, the more you practice Metta, the more benefits of meditation you are going to experience.
When 50 students were put in a study, they found out that practicing Metta just 3 times a week enhanced their interpersonal interactions and positive emotions. The benefits of meditation are accumulated over time with patience and it increases empathy, positivity, and compassion toward others.
7. May Help Fight Addictions
Meditation can help you develop the mental discipline that can eliminate dependencies on addictive substances by increasing awareness of triggers and self-control. Studies have shown that medication can help you understand the causes behind your addiction and assist you to manage your impulses and emotions, and redirect your attention.
A group of 60 people was a part of a study for receiving treatment for alcohol abuse. After 3 months of continuous transcendental meditation, the group had lower levels of stress, fewer alcohol cravings, and less psychological distress.
For people with constant food cravings, meditation can help control those hankerings. A meta-analysis of 14 studies showed that meditation helped participants reduce binge eating. Mediation improves mental awareness and helps manage unwanted impulses and triggers. In turn, it can help you manage unhealthy eating, recover from addiction, and eliminate unwanted habits.
8. Improves sleep
Almost 50 percent of people are going to suffer from insomnia at some point. According to a study, people who practice mindfulness meditation could stay asleep longer and improve their insomnia condition compared to people who were unmedicated on their insomnia condition.
When you become a skilled meditation practitioner, you can easily redirect your thoughts and control your racing brain, which often leads to insomnia. Moreover, it can release tension, relax your body, and put you in a peaceful state, which helps you fall asleep.
After looking at some of the health benefits of meditation, let’s look at the different types of meditation you can try.
Types of Meditation
Meditation is a broad term for a lot of ways to help achieve a relaxed state of being. There are many types of relaxation techniques that share the same goal of inner peace.
- Guided Meditation: Many call it visualization or guided imagery. With this type of meditation, you can form mental images of situations or places that you find relaxing. Here, you try as many senses as possible such as sights, textures, smells, and sounds. A teacher or a guide leads you in this process.
- Mantra Meditation: With mantra meditation, you have to silently repeat a phrase, thought, or word to stop distractions.
- Mindfulness Meditation: It teaches you to be mindful, increases your awareness, and helps you to live in the moment. With this type of meditation, you can expand your conscious awareness. You focus on the flow of your breath during practice and let the thoughts and emotions pass without judgment.
- Transcendental Meditation: It is a natural, simple technique. In transcendental meditation, you have to silently repeat a thought, mantra, or phrase in a specific way. Transcendental meditation can help you find inner peace and a state of profound relaxation.
- Yoga: While doing yoga, you have to do a series of postures that require you to control your breathing. With practice, you get a calm mind and flexible body. Moving through poses requires concentration and balance. This helps you to focus more on the movement and less on your busy day.
The Bottom Line
Meditation is a practice that everyone should do to improve their emotional and mental health, which ultimately improves their life. The best part about it is you can do it anywhere without special memberships and equipment. You can choose from different styles of meditation and improve the quality of your life. Meditation helps you discover yourself on a deeper level, which translates to better relationships, better job satisfaction, better communication, and an overall better life.