Here, I explore the benefits of meditation on physical and emotional wellbeing
At the heart of what I promote is meditation. Meditation is truly powerful and transformative.
It’s about forming a habit and sticking with it. My meditation habit was directly responsible for becoming a multi-millionaire and enjoying life with a new sense of inner peace and happiness.
Mediation is often shrouded in mystery and seen by some as a sort of “alternative” activity, but at its core, meditation promotes calmness and clarity, which is why many of the world’s top entrepreneurs find time to meditate every day.
Meditation is a technique that dispels the clutter from your mind and quietens the thousands of thoughts firing away in your brain. With regular practice, it will help you transform your life.
There are two major styles of meditation:
Focused-attention meditation: (the most common form of meditation) concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra, or a calming sound.
Open-monitoring meditation: encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought, and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of thoughts, feelings, or impulses that you might usually try to suppress.
It’s said that sleep restores the body, and meditation restores the mind. It helps remove the noise that’s distorting your natural inner peace.
You may find some types of meditations incredibly effective, and others may be less so.
Some days when I meditate, my mind still drifts; that’s okay. Everyone is different, so experiment to find what works for you.
The most common reason people give up meditation is for thoughts like: “I kept slipping into thinking,” which is a futile reason to give up. To notice you were thinking or that you observed your thoughts means that you were indeed meditating.
Meditation is not a faraway destination to be reached after years motionless inside a cave; it’s an internal state ready and waiting any time you want to connect to it.
As you begin to meditate more often, you will learn which method you need, and crucially, when you need it. You will soon become familiar with your unique rhythm and listen and respond to your own energy.
You can lay down, sit up, lie on the floor, or even walk around; what you don’t have to do is you sit all day in the lotus position looking serene because life isn’t like that. It’s unlikely you’ll fly around the room having an out-of-body-experience or go into some trance, and you certainly won’t need to involve mind-altering drugs.
Meditation requires you to concentrate on one thing: a mantra, a voice, or your breath.
Proven benefits of Meditation and the importance of meditation
1. Reduces Stress
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation, and one of the main benefits of meditation. One study, including over 3,500 adults, showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction.
Typically, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Increased cortisol produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines.
These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
Research has shown that meditation may also improve stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia—relieving or improving these physical symptoms show the importance of meditation, and the health benefits of meditation.
2. Controls Anxiety
Less stress translates to less anxiety. For example, an eight-week study of mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce their anxiety.
It also reduced anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, and panic attacks.
Meditation may also help control job-related anxiety in high-pressure work environments.
3. Promotes Emotional Health
Some forms of meditation can also lead to improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life.
4. Enhances Self-Awareness
Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.
For example, self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you.
Other forms teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns.
5. Lengthens Attention Span
Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention. Even meditating for a short period may benefit you. One study found that four days of practicing meditation may be enough to increase attention span.
6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young, a key health benefit of meditation, physically and emotionally.
Kirtan Kriya is a meditation method that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus thoughts. It improved participants’ ability to perform memory tasks in multiple studies of age-related memory loss.
A review of 12 studies found that multiple meditation styles increased attention, memory, and mental quickness in older volunteers.
The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of addictive behaviours triggers.
Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention, increase their willpower, control their emotions, and impulses and increase their understanding of their addictive behaviours.
Meditation may also help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge-eating.
7. Improves Sleep
Nearly half of the population will struggle with insomnia at some point. Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or “runaway” thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, release tension, and place you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.
8. Helps Control Pain
Our perception of pain is connected to our state of mind and may become amplified during stressful conditions.
For example, one study used functional MRI techniques to observe brain activity as participants experienced a painful stimulus. Some participants had gone through four days of mindfulness meditation training, while others had not. The meditating patients showed increased activity in the brain centres known to control pain. They also reported less sensitivity to pain.
The benefits of meditation are vast and don’t merely impact your emotional wellbeing. As mentioned above, there are significant health benefits of meditation and physical benefits, too.
Although it can be difficult to start meditating, meditation can become an important part of your daily routine with practice. It will help relieve stress and anxiety, improve sleep, control pain, and increase your attention span, crucial to achieving clarity, peace of mind, and the emotional space you need to positively transform your life.