The various meditation benefits, once understood, will have you wanting to meditate more often. Not only can meditation reduce stress, but it also can improve brain function as meditation benefits the brain greatly.
Meditation is a quiet, relaxing and mindful activity. It’s a habitual process of training your brain to focus on specific thoughts or ideas. Though meditation as a concept has been around for thousands of years, it’s begun to earn more popularity as people focus more heavily on self-care and mental health.
Meditation benefits us greatly and provides us with the tools we need to manage our emotions, develop a better awareness of our surroundings, and reduce stress. Some people even use meditation to address specific issues, like sleep problems, or chronic pain.
Below we’ll explore the various benefits of meditation and the different types of meditation that beginners can discover.
Meditation is a practice built around mindfulness. It involves getting in touch with yourself, your brain, and your body. Through these processes, you can effectively reduce stress, clear your head, broaden your mind, and set yourself up to accomplish a range of goals.
Though the benefits of meditation may differ from one person to another, there are a number of advantages of meditation that are proven and supported by science. For instance, some meditation benefits include:
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons why people try meditation. Typically, physical and mental stress cause increased levels of cortisol, which produces inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. These effects disrupt sleep, exacerbate depression and anxiety, and increase blood pressure – which contributes to fatigue and poor focus.
One particular study into mindfulness meditation, however, proved that meditation could significantly reduce the inflammation response caused by stress. Furthermore, research shows meditation can also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as IBS.
Helps Control Anxiety
Aside from reducing stress levels, meditation can also significantly lower anxiety. Analysis of around 1,300 adults in one study found meditation can lower anxiety – particularly in people with higher levels of stress and panic symptoms.
With meditation, you can learn how to control some of the feelings you get when you’re anxious. For instance, being mindful of your heart rate and breathing helps you to lower the pace of those patterns. What’s more, some research suggests mindfulness and meditation exercises may reduce anxiety levels. Yoga, for instance, is a common tool for reducing anxiety, and it can be paired with meditation easily.
Better Emotional Health
Meditation requires a significant amount of mindfulness, as mentioned above. This means teaching yourself how to be aware of, and respectful of your emotions. Meditation can show you how to recognize and deal with the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, and similar issues.
Perhaps most importantly, meditation in various forms can help people to develop a stronger understanding of themselves, helping them to grow into their best selves. Sometimes, guided meditation can even help you to recognize thoughts that might be self-defeating and harmful, so you can properly overcome them.
Improves Your Attention Span
Meditation makes us more aware of everything. When you practice mindfulness, it’s almost like lifting weights – you strengthen the muscle responsible for focus and attention. Studies have found people who listen to meditation tapes experience improved attention and accuracy when completing a task.
One piece of research even concluded meditation might help to reverse patterns on the brain which contribute to mind-wandering, poor attention span and worrying.
Improvements in attention and clarity might help you keep your mind sharer for longer, according to some research. There’s a kind of meditation that combines mantras and chants with motions in the fingers to help focus your thoughts. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have shown it improves performance in neuropsychological tests too.
Reviews have found preliminary evidence that various meditation styles can increase memory, attention, and mental quickness in some volunteers too.,
Helps Fight Addictions
Meditation helps with the development of mental discipline, which can reduce dependencies on various substances – like drugs and alcohol. Research shows meditation can assist in helping people to redirect their impulses and attention while increasing their understanding of the causes behind their behaviour too.
One study into people receiving alcohol abuse treatment found that meditation (transcendental meditation in particular) is commonly associated with lower levels of stress, psychological distress, and alcohol cravings.
Almost everyone struggles with sleep sometimes. One study looking into mindfulness meditation programs found people who meditated generally stayed asleep much longer and even reduced the severity of their insomnia symptoms, compared to those with an unmedicated condition.
Though meditation won’t guarantee you can avoid any issues with sleep, it should help to manage your thoughts, so you’re less likely to stay awake panicking about various things or concentrating on certain thought patterns.
Helps Manage Pain
Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can often seem worse when you’re stressed. If you find chronic pain conditions seem to worsen when you’re having a panic attack, it might be worth trying some meditation.
A large meta-analysis of studies featuring around 3,500 participants concluded meditation was also associated with decreased instances of pain. You can even use meditation to reduce blood pressure issues which might cause pain and chronic conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. Analysis into around 12 studies containing 1000 participants found meditation helped to reduce blood pressure and relax the nerves in the body.
Types of Meditation
There are clearly many benefits to exploring meditation as a solution for everything from stress to chronic pain. Over the years, countless practitioners have advised meditation as a tool for handling both mental and physical health conditions.
As the popularity of meditation has evolved, the types of meditation available to people who want to practice it have also evolved. Not all meditation styles are suitable for everyone. Below are some insights into the most popular types of meditation, and who might benefit most from each type:
A powerful tool for dealing with everything from eating disorders to pain, mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhism as one of the most popular forms of meditation in the Western world. With mindfulness meditation, you’ll pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind, but you don’t judge any of your thoughts or feelings.
Mindfulness meditation involves combining concentration and awareness, helping you understand your physical and mental processes, so you can manage them more effectively. You can find apps and videos to help with mindfulness meditation, but it’s also something you can easily practice on your own. Simply sitting and paying attention to the rise and fall of your breathing, how it makes you feel, and what kind of sensations move through you is a form of mindfulness meditation.
As the name might suggest, Focused meditation requires a little more concentration. The idea is to focus on using one of your five senses. You might focus on something internal, like your breathing, or you could use external influences to focus your attention, such as staring at the flame of a candle.
In theory, focused meditation is pretty straightforward. You hone your mind on one particular thing and develop a deeper understanding of it as a result. However, it can be difficult to stop your mind from drifting as a beginner.
Focused meditation is ideal if you want to sharpen your attention for work or study. It can also be a great tool for dealing with mental health issues and addiction.
When most people think of movement meditation, they think “yoga”. However, this practice can include all kinds of motion, from walking and tai-chi to Pilates and gardening. Typically, movement meditation is an active form of meditation that uses gentle movement to help improve your connection with your body and the present moment. It also helps to get outside and connect with nature while you do this.
Movement meditation is ideal for people who want to improve more bodily awareness. If you want to enhance your awareness of your body as a dancer, for instance, this could be the option for you. Movement meditation can also include various forms of yoga and dance.
One of the oldest forms of meditation available today, and an easy option to embrace as a beginner, mantra meditation revolves around the use of a specific repetitive sound. With Mantra meditation, you use a single sound to clear your mind. This could be a phrase, or a word, like “Om”.
Mantra meditations can be spoken loudly, quietly, or even as a kind of song. After you chant your mantra for a specific period of time, you’ll feel more alert and in-tune with your environment, so you can develop deeper levels of awareness. Some people love this kind of meditation because it gives them something to focus on besides their breath.
If you’re having a hard time with stress and relaxation, mantra meditation can give you the tools you need to focus your mind.
Visualization meditation is another excellent option for beginners, designed to improve your relaxation sessions and create a sense of inner calmness. Visualization meditation involves imagining a calming or empowering scene vividly and using all five senses to add as much detail as possible. It might even involve holding a figure of a hero in mind with the intention of taking on similar qualities.
Like many forms of meditation, visualization meditation is a mood-boosting exercise, which can reduce stress levels and help to enhance inner peace.
Which Meditation Style is Right for You?
Ultimately, meditation can be a powerful tool for all kinds of people, no matter what they’re trying to accomplish. If you find out through a CircleDNA test that you’re genetically more prone to stress or sleep disorders, you can use meditation to help you relax. If you’re having a hard time with mindfulness, meditation can give you the tools you need to improve this practice. There are guided meditations on YouTube you could try. Sitting and meditating briefly for a few minutes per day can make a major difference to your life if you learn how to meditate correctly.