The popularity of meditation is growing as more and more people discover its many health benefits.
Meditation is the process of training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts.
It can be used to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people view it as a way to reduce stress and develop focus.
People also use this practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and attitude, self-discipline, healthy sleep habits, and even higher pain tolerance.
It helps to reduce stress.
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.
Normally, mental and physical stress causes levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and fuzzy thinking.
In an 8-week study, a style of meditation called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress.
Additionally, research has shown that meditation can also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
Meditation can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety.
A study in nearly 1,300 adults found that meditation can reduce anxiety. Notably, this effect was strongest in those with the highest levels of anxiety.
For example, yoga has been shown to help people reduce their anxiety. This is likely due to the benefits of meditative practice and physical activity.
Meditation can also help manage work-related anxiety. A study found that employees who used a mindfulness meditation app for 8 weeks experienced a greater sense of well-being and a decrease in anxiety and fatigue at work, compared to those in a control group.
Promotes emotional health.
Some forms of meditation can lead to a better self-image and a more positive outlook on life.
For example, a review of treatments given to more than 3,500 adults found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression.
Another study found that people who engaged in a meditation exercise had fewer negative thoughts in response to viewing negative images, compared to those in a control group.
Certain forms of meditation can help you develop a better understanding of yourself, helping you become the best version of yourself.
A study of 153 adults who used a mindfulness meditation app for two weeks experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and increased social contact compared to a control group.
Additionally, the experience of meditation can cultivate more creative problem-solving skills.
Increases attention span.
Mindfulness meditation is like lifting weights for your attention span. Helps increase focus strength and endurance.
For example, one study found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved focus and accuracy when performing a task, compared to a control group.
A similar study showed that people who regularly practiced meditation performed better on a visual task and had longer attention spans than those who had no experience with meditation.
Even meditating for a short time each day can be beneficial. One study found that meditating for just 13 minutes a day improved attention and memory after 8 weeks.
Improving attention and clarity of thought can help keep your mind young.
Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines mantra or chanting with repetitive finger movement to focus thoughts. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have shown that it improves performance on neuropsychological tests.
Additionally, a review found preliminary evidence that several styles of meditation can increase attention, memory, and mental speed in older volunteers.
In addition to combating normal age-related memory loss, meditation may at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can also help manage stress and improve coping skills for people caring for loved ones with dementia.
This can generate feelings of generosity.
Certain types of meditation can particularly increase positive feelings and actions towards oneself and others.
Metta, a type of meditation also known as benevolence meditation, begins with developing benevolent thoughts and feelings towards oneself.
Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness outward, first to friends, then to acquaintances, and finally to enemies.
An analysis of 22 studies on this form of meditation demonstrated its ability to increase people’s compassion for themselves and others.
In other words, the more time people spent practicing weekly metta meditation, the more positive feelings they experienced.
It can help fight addictions.
The mental discipline you can develop through meditation can help you break addictions by increasing your self-control and awareness of addictive behavior triggers.
Research has shown that meditation can help people learn to redirect their attention, manage their emotions and impulses, and better understand the causes of their addictions.
Meditation can also help control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found that mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotions and binge eating.
It can improve sleep.
Almost half of the population has problems with insomnia at some point in their life.
One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and had better insomnia than those in a control condition without meditation.
Learning meditation skills can help you control or redirect racing or racing thoughts that often lead to insomnia.
Plus, it can help relax your body, release tension, and put you in a peaceful state where you’re more likely to fall asleep.
Helps control pain.
Pain perception is related to mood and can be elevated under stressful conditions.
Some research suggests that incorporating meditation into your routine can be beneficial for pain control.
For example, a review of 38 studies concluded that mindfulness meditation may reduce pain, improve quality of life, and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain.
A large meta-analysis of studies involving nearly 3,500 participants concluded that meditation was associated with reduced pain.
Meditators and non-meditators experienced the same causes of pain, but meditators showed greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced less pain sensation.
It can lower blood pressure.
Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing stress on the heart.
Over time, high blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to pump blood, which can cause the heart to malfunction.
High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
A meta-analysis of 12 studies with nearly 1,000 participants found that meditation helped lower blood pressure. It was more effective in older volunteers and those who had high blood pressure before the study.
One study concluded that various types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure.
People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which do not require specialized equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes a day.
If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to do with it.
Main styles of meditation.
- Focused attention meditation. This style focuses attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization. It emphasizes freeing the mind from distractions. Meditation can focus on your breath, a mantra, or a calming sound.
- Open Monitoring Meditation. This style encourages greater awareness of all aspects of the environment, chain of thought, and sense of self. This may include becoming aware of repressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses.
Why should you meditate daily?
Just as we train to train our body, improve our health, and make ourselves physically strong, meditation is a practice of training our mind.
Meditation has been shown to be able to produce changes in the volume of gray matter (neurons!), improve connectivity between different regions of the brain, and reduce activity in the ego centers of the brain. .
Sounds like a miracle pill? Well, it really is about neuroscience! And that’s not all. Meditation is also therapeutic.
This practice helps reduce depression and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, stay calm in the face of panic attacks or everyday stress, and feel better overall.
Many people go through life in automatic mode, distracting themselves with anything to avoid focusing on the thoughts or emotions that really cause discomfort or anxiety. Meditation not only helps to deal with it without distractions, but also to adopt new, more positive and resilient attitudes.
If your usual work environment and home environment don’t allow for quiet, alone time, consider signing up for a class. It can also improve your chances of success by providing a supportive community.
Another possibility is to set the alarm clock a few minutes earlier to take advantage of the calm morning weather. It can help you develop a consistent habit and start your day on a positive note.