We often talk about exercise for the body, but what about exercise for the mind? Well in my opinion that is exactly what meditation is, after all, it is all about rewiring the brain to create positivity. Something that takes some work and effort, but is so worth it. So other than creating positive connections in the brain, what are the benefits to meditation? Let’s take a look, and no matter whether you have already got started or are just thinking about giving it a go, you will soon realise it is definitely an activity that wants to take priority in your daily life.
Mental Health Benefits
- Lower levels of stress: This is a really common reason as to why people start meditation. Stress can have a huge impact on sleep, physical health, and over time can result in depression. By becoming aware of our own thoughts and finding a tool to manage them we can hugely effect our stress levels for the better.
- Reduced anxiety: Generally speaking, less stress will result in less anxiety. Taking back control of where we let our mind wander will allow us to take back control of our anxieties.
- Improved concentration: By focusing on an object no matter whether it is the breath, or a positive idea/attitude we will hugely affect our ability to concentrate. Something that I think is more of a challenge for us these days, as we are surrounded by so many distractions through technology, social media etc. You will find that the more you do it and the more practice you have, the longer you will find you can focus for. A great way to look at this is like strength training the muscles: The more reps/sets we do of an exercise the more we build up the muscular endurance of that muscle, the same is true for meditation and the mind.
- Improved self awareness: Taking time out for you, and taking the time to understand the condition of your mind, what is serving you, your thoughts and how you relate to others will help take your self awareness to a whole new level. This can really help when trying to take back control of where you allow your mind to wander, or at least how you let yourself be affected by where it wanders. Ultimately, it is going to help you gain a greater understanding of the habit of your thoughts. Now that, is powerful!
- Help create a more positive outlook on life: By taking you out of the situation that you find yourself thinking about a lot and removing you from it, helps you to see things from a slightly different perspective. This can really alter how you let things affects you, or the actions that you choose to take as a result of things happening to you.
- Improved sleep: Through relaxation, we have the ability to calm the mind or refocus its thoughts to allow you to have a more restful nights sleep. This can then hugely impact your ability to deal with things that come your way, as you will be feeling more refreshed to do so.
- Studies show that meditating can help improve heart health, by improving blood pressure and heart rate. If you think about it, taking the time out to “just be”, to slow down, and to calm the pace of our mind can only be a good think on our stress levels and the subsequent hormones that are released by our body. It is no wonder that our heart rate is then positively affected too.
- It can most definitely be argued that regularly meditating can help build a stronger immune system. The reason for this is because you are taking yourself out of the stressful situation, therefore the body is choosing a more productive response when it comes to fight or flight. Constant exposure to stressful situations can really take its toll on our body and our immune system.
- We have already mentioned that it lowers stress levels, the result on your physical health from this are then huge: It can help to lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cholesterol. Wow! All of this from meditation… Imagine how much we could take the strain of our health services! Food for thought hey!
- Less physical tension in the body: Woah now that’s a good one. Normally when we think about removing tension, I don’t know about you but I think of a massage. Now I am not denying that would be real nice, and I would take up the opportunity of that whenever I can (what Mum and pregnant lady wouldn’t?). But knowing that you can achieve it easily on a daily basis on your own is incredible. The act of simply taking time (I say that very loosely as I know it is not simple taking time out with little ones) to sit and focus on nothing but the breath can really help to melt our tension away, as when we store tension in the mind, you will always see that reflected in tension in the body.
- You can take it and do it anywhere: This really is the beauty of meditation. It also doesn’t just have to be in a structured meditation practice. Meditating is all about not forgetting, so you can absolutely take this and apply it throughout the day. Imagine how much more of a pleasant day you would have by being present and having a calmer mind.
- It can help provide a sense of direction to your day or your life as the fog is lifted and you can think clearly.
- Improved sense of well-being and balance in life: The act of taking time out, focusing on you and giving your mind the attention it deserves all have a positive effect on feeling like you have struck more balance.
- Many would say it achieves a sense of enlightenment
Take meditation with you, wherever you are
Meditation isn’t about needing to sit cross-legged on the floor, with your fingers held out in a certain position whilst chanting. Of course, this can be the case if you want it to be, but it really is all about just taking the time to stop in your day and move inwards. I have already mentioned that it is about not forgetting and about being mindful. So you could be meditating whilst walking, cooking, cleaning etc.
The possibilities are endless
These benefits are just to name a few, the truth is, the list is endless and many people will find it benefits them in different ways. But it cannot be denied that it begs the question as to why we all shouldn’t give it a go right!
If you’re looking to get started with meditation or would like some guidance then head over to my blog on guided meditation, where you’ll find some great tips.
Perhaps you have already tried out meditation for yourself and have seen some amazing benefits, if so, pop your thoughts below as I’d love to hear them and how it has had an impact on your life.