Benefits Of Meditation

11/15/2021 | 11 min. read

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

Meditation is one of the most beneficial activities you can do for your health. Even a few minutes of meditation a day, or even just several times a week, can help you both physically and mentally.

At Healthy Directions, we have an overview of why you should start meditating and how you can start your own practice without needing any equipment at all.

Where Did Meditation Come From?

Meditation seems to have always been around, although its popularity ebbs and flows. The practice is one of the oldest, and humans in many different cultures have practiced different forms of meditation for thousands of years.

Initially, people who practiced meditation did so to understand the mystical forces of the universe more closely. In many areas of the world, meditation was a spiritual practice.

However, it has become more of a stress reduction method and has a greater sense of relaxation over the years.

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is known mainly for its ability to help you feel calmer, and that is still one of its most essential benefits. However, that sense of calm and mental well-being can also translate into benefits for your physical health.

A Reduction in Stress

Along with a feeling of peace also comes a reduction in your overall stress level. Stress can have significant, negative effects on the body, especially if allowed to continue over long periods of time.

The body can learn to adjust to stress in small increments, which our fight-or-flight response essentially does. When a stressor presents itself, the brain sends a distress signal that allows the body to protect itself better—dilating the pupils, increasing the heart and respiratory rates, and tensing the muscles.

Mindfulness meditation training, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), or mindfulness-based stress relaxation (MBSR) can be especially helpful for stress management and are sometimes recommended alongside cognitive therapy.

Better Sleep

With regular practice, different types of meditation can also help you get better quality sleep.

For many people, falling asleep can be a complicated process. Often, this is because they find themselves lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, worrying about a hundred different things.

Shutting the brain off enough to sleep is tricky, but meditation and yoga help you center yourself back in the present.

With better sleep, your body is more capable of healing itself. You’ll also wake up with more energy, in a better mood, and more ready to take on the day.

A Greater Sense of Compassion

It can be easy to lose connection with the world, especially in these difficult times. When we’re forced into survival mode, our ability to empathize with others can decrease, but meditation, specifically loving-kindness meditation, can help you flip that switch back on.

Through meditation, we can connect more deeply with ourselves.

With an improved love and understanding of the self, we are also more able to understand others. Meditation helps to remind us of how interconnected we all are.

Potential Management of Symptoms Related to Illness

One of the more exciting ways that meditation can improve your life is by potentially being able to help manage the symptoms of certain illnesses when you commit to the habit. This benefit is especially vital for those who have conditions worsened by an increased stress level.

Regular meditation practice has been the focus of research looking at its ability to help manage health conditions. In fact, it has shown that it has the ability to bypass opioid receptors, helping you feel more comfortable without feeling altered.

This may be incredibly promising for those who can’t take traditional medication or those looking for alternatives.

A Longer Attention Span

Everyone struggles with their attention span at some point in their lives. When you need to focus and you can’t, it can feel frustrating and stressful.

Luckily, meditation can help with this, too.

When you meditate regularly, it can help you learn to be more active in the present moment. Known as mindfulness, the ability to let go of the past and not focus on the future is one of the most important benefits of mindfulness.

One of the side effects of mindfulness can be an increased attention span. The ability to refocus your attention from distractions is something that many people struggle with, and regular meditation is a way to do just that.

Meditation can help regulate your prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for your thinking and reasoning processes.

How Can I Start a Meditation Practice?

Have you been convinced by the benefits of meditation and are ready to start a meditation practice?

The great news is that not only is it easy to do, it also costs absolutely nothing. All you need is a quiet place where you can sit without being disturbed, a comfortable place to sit, and a few minutes to yourself.

Get comfortable and take a few deep breaths with your eyes open when you’re ready to begin. The goal of these breaths is to help put you in the right mindset. There isn’t a specific time it takes to be ready to move on; you’ll feel the moment when it presents itself.

When you’re there, close your eyes while you continue to breathe deeply. Some people find it helpful to count their breaths, while others prefer to keep a more blank mind.

When you notice thoughts start to pop up, try not to judge yourself. The key is to label them in a way that makes sense to you. Gently push them away, and move forward.

How long you meditate is up to you, and even just a few minutes give you the benefits of meditation. When you’re done, gently ease out of your deep meditative state, thank yourself, and go on with your day.

In Conclusion

The benefits of meditation extend much further than most people are aware. While it is an incredible way to help yourself feel calmer, regular practice can also help your physical health.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your overall sense of health and well-being, meditation may be just what you need. The best part is, meditation doesn’t cost a dime.

For more ways to optimize your health, trust the experts at Healthy Directions. We’d be honored to walk with you down the path to a better sense of wellness.

Sources:

Ten health benefits of meditation| UC Davis (ucdavis.edu)

Stress effects on the body | APA (apa.org)

Mindfulness meditation-based relief: a mechanistic account | PubMed (nih.gov)

Healthy Directions Staff Editor