Meditation means many different things to many different people. Some people practice meditation as part of an exercise routine. Some people practice it for its health benefits. And some people meditate to calm their minds and wash away the stress of the day.
For whatever reason, meditation is quickly becoming a popular method of self-care for many. And it’s not surprising considering the many benefits of meditation. Between boosting the brain and helping achieve relaxation and even some form of enlightenment, meditation can make a positive impact in your life.
Read on if you want to learn more about mediation and its benefits.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is using techniques such as mindfulness to help achieve calmness and awareness. It involves focusing the mind on one thought, activity, or object to help with mental clarity and emotional stability.
As said previously, meditation can mean many different things to many different people. Depending on who you ask or what religion or train of thought they practice, the definitions could vary.
On the whole, meditation refers to the relaxing of the mind to achieve a goal. This can be peace, enlightenment, or relaxation to name a few.
Meditation has been practiced as far back as recorded human history. It is a big part of many different religions as a path to self-awareness and enlightenment. Historically, meditation was first identified in India. They had wall arts showing people meditating in a seated posture with their eyes closed.
Throughout history, meditation has played a big role in cultures, religions, and civilizations. From its ancient origins in India, meditation became a big part of many prominent religions. This included Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and even Christianity—where it was seen as a form of prayer.
The definition of meditation grew and expanded. It eventually became an encompassing term for being able to relax and practice mindfulness. While originally used for more spiritual purposes, since the 20th century, meditation has spread to cultures around the globe. And in modern times, it’s used for non-spiritual applications too like in business, health, and relationships.
What Is Meditation Used For?
The applications of meditation are almost boundless. Generally speaking, meditation is typically used to help calm one’s mind. It aims to reduce stress and anxiety. In addition to this, it can also help with depression and pain for some people.
Meditation is popularly used by those who seek tranquility. It’s also used to boost self-awareness and even bolster the overall well-being.
With meditation growing in popularity over time, there’s also been advancement in research on the topic. In the past years, there have been studies on the health benefits that it can offer to those who practice. This includes helping a person achieve peace and calmness. Furthermore, it even addresses anxiety along with depression.
Because of the astounding benefits of meditation, it is used by all kinds of people. From athletes and entrepreneurs to celebrities, many use meditation to help them excel in their field. Some of the popular meditation enthusiasts include Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie, and Emma Watson to name a few.
Top 8 Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has proven to be an effective alternative method of treatment for some who suffer from anxiety and depression. At the same time, it has been shown to help boost brain function, provide peace, and help strengthen focus.
Below are some of the top benefits of meditation:
1. Reduces Stress
Stress is a silent killer. And, in one way or another, we’re all battling stress every single day. To help control and manage stress, you can turn to meditation.
Meditation is excellent at reducing stress and anxiety. Several studies have shown its positive impact on the brain.
One study showed that mindful and Zen meditations significantly reduced stress when practiced for a period of as short as three months. Meanwhile, another study found that meditation even helps change the physical makeup of the brain. This helps when dealing with worry.
2. Improves Focus
Imagine how much more we can achieve when we are extremely focused. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused in a multi-tasking world. But meditation helps improve cognition. It also boosts your capabilities to perform tasks that require concentration.
A paper published by the University of Waterloo shows that meditation helps improve brain functions. These include cognitive abilities such as regulating emotional responses and habitual thoughts.
Meanwhile, another study showed how meditation improves focus and attention. It suggested how breathing exercises can result in enhanced cognition and improved productivity.
3. Helps Curb Anxiety
With less stress and better focus, can less anxiety be far behind?
A study has shown that meditation practiced over an extended period can reduce anxiety and depression. The participants of the research practiced mindfulness for eight weeks. The results indicated that the participants’ moods significantly improved after practicing meditation.
4. Supports Immune Function
With all of the benefits that meditation provides for the brain, it’s no wonder that it helps boost immune functions too. With the reduced amount of stress-causing negative effects on the body, meditation can also help bolster the immune system. A 2016 study suggested a possible link between practicing mindfulness and wound healing.
5. Helps Improve Memory
Increased brain function is a benefit of meditation. Alongside boosting cognition, meditation has also been shown to improve memory functions too. Improvements in focus and attention span brought about by meditation can also improve clarity in thinking. Moreover, it can enhance memory, according to the results of a 2015 study.
6. Enhances Self-Awareness
While there are many physical health benefits for meditation, there are also several psychological benefits as well. Some forms of mindful meditation help you relax your brain and develop a stronger sense of self-awareness.
There are some forms of meditation that help you develop a better understating of who you are and how you relate to the world around you. Others teach you to recognize thought patterns and help you break bad habits.
If you want to know more about yourself and how you think, trying out meditation may help you in this aspect. Practicing mindfulness may even help you understand your actions and motivations better.
7. Promotes Kindness and Empathy
Many types of meditation improve kindness and empathy. When meditating, it enhances positive emotions and a feeling of connectedness with those around you.
Metta is a specific type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation. It’s all about creating positive feelings about yourself and those around you. Through regular practice, people can experience these positive feelings/actions in their own lives. Eventually, they may project it forward in compassion towards themselves and others.
8. Helps Reduce Pain
Pain is essentially the mind’s reaction to elevated levels of stress and physical discomfort. Through meditation, you can control and better manage pain. One study showed that practicing meditation gives off a pain relief effect.
Make Time for Meditation
With all the benefits that meditation provides, everyone should make time for a little mindfulness. So, are you trying to reduce the stress in your life, relax, or even just learn a little more about yourself? Meditation is a good, cost-effective, and sustainable way to do so.