4 Benefits of Meditation Including Improved Mood and Relationships
Via Anne Nygard on Unsplash
If there is one thing you must do for your body on a daily basis, it is to meditate. Now, I understand meditation can get a bad rep for only being for super hippy and zen people. After all, who has time to sit for hours, hum to themselves, and forget about the world. Well, I'm here to tell you that you don’t just have to sit on your bed and stare at a wall for hours on end to achieve your own type of zen and relaxation. All the benefits of meditation come from many forms of rest and focus.
1. What exactly is meditation?
3. Meditation techniques + how to start
- Meditation has been around for thousands of years and was created to help connect the body and breath in order to create inner peace.
- The benefits of meditation include reduced stress, increased emotional health, and so much more.
- You can find your own inner peace with many different types of meditation.
What exactly is meditation?
The standard practice of meditation originated in India, and some historians think it could have even started all the way back in 1500 BCE. This practice stems from the Hinduism and Buddhism religions that have a lot of focus on finding inner peace and self-reflecting.
The word “meditation” itself comes from the Latin term “meditatum” which means “to ponder”. So when figuring out the best way for you to go about meditating, it is important to think of the things or places that bring you peace and allow you to deeply analyze your thoughts without distraction. This practice is truly about connecting the body and breath to create inner harmony. Meditation can have a significant impact on your mental health, as well as promote healthier relationships.
The benefits of meditating
With everything going on in the world today, it can be hard to handle unwanted anxiety and tension. Mediation can help you focus your attention away from darker thoughts and help to produce a deeper state of relaxation that can benefit your overall health. There are many benefits to meditation, but here are just a few:
Stress doesn’t only harm our mental state, but it can also severely affect other parts of our body. Stress causes increased levels of cortisol in the body, which has the potential to release inflammatory chemicals. A release of these chemicals can make your immune system weak which leads to a higher susceptibility to catching other illnesses.
So how can meditation reduce your stress and keep your body healthy? Well, the focus on breath and the element of relaxation found within meditation helps to limit your stress levels and therefore decreases your body’s production of cortisol.
Promote emotional health
According to the Mayo Clinic, when you are meditating you’re able to clear away information overload that may be causing you stress or anxiety. Using meditation as a fix causes you to develop a new perspective on stressful situations and focus your attention on the present. With a clear head comes a happier and healthier self.
Enhance self awareness
A study conducted showed that people that practiced mindfulness had a decreased activation of brain regions associated with rumination. Rumination is basically the negative self-talk that goes on in the brain – don’t lie…we all can be a little too negative toward ourselves sometimes. But essentially this research showed that people who meditated felt more confident with themselves since that negative self talk was silenced.
When faced with a frustrating situation, it can be easy to act on impulse. Meditating can give you the ability to walk into situations with a calmer demeanor, enabling you to act with kindness and grace. More than anything, the practice of meditation gives you more caregiving abilities, which in return can help strengthen relationships and be a person for others to lean on.
Meditation techniques + how to start
Just like with all things, meditation takes practice and consistency to be able to truly work. When you first start out you may find it difficult to not let your mind wander – but that’s okay! Sometimes meditating is all about sitting with nothing else but your thoughts, as uncomfortable as that may be. When these thoughts come up, make sure that you are aware of them and able to reflect on why they may be popping up and distracting you. For meditation, all you really need to start is focused attention, a quiet setting, and an open attitude.
There are many different forms of meditation, and it is important to try a few out to see which works best for you.
This type of meditation is a type of mindfulness meditation, with the sole focus of trying to keep yourself grounded in the present. This type of meditation is great for anyone who worries a lot about the uncontrollable and the future, since it guides you in understanding that you only have the power to control where you are at the moment. Guided meditation is also great for starters because the voice you are following along will tell you when to inhale and exhale, as well as keep you in check if you become distracted with thoughts.
Many sources recommend doing guided meditation before bed, or right when you wake up in the morning. You can find these guided meditations on podcasts, audiobooks, or, my personal favorite, meditation apps such as CALM and headspace.
Many people use yoga as a form of daily exercise. However, yoga also can be used as a form of meditation since it requires intense focus to perform certain poses. The intense concentration used during this practice puts the body at a profound level of rest, allowing you to focus on the moment and less on your busy day. Personally, yoga is my favorite form of meditation because I can get a good sweat out of it but also leave feeling many of the benefits of meditation and the peace that comes with it.
Your own version of meditation
Like I said before, meditating doesn’t have to be so structured and so still if that’s not what you like. If you are more of an active person and walking or running brings you peace of mind, go for that walk and put on calming music. As long as you are finding a connection between the mind and the body, and trying to find peace within yourself…then that’s all you really need to meditate.
Meditation is something that everyone should do to better their mental health and to live more in the present. The great thing about meditation is that you can be anywhere and any place to do it. Give it a try and I promise that you too will see all of the benefits of meditation come to life.
Written by Emma Carlson
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