With the stress and chaos surrounding every day life, it is important to remember the benefits of de-stressing and turning inward. One way to accomplish this is through meditation.
Meditation has been practiced and used for relaxation and healing for thousands of years. The practice is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine as it can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind, easing the stress of multiple bodily systems.
Below are some of the ways in which meditation can help improve your health:
Emotional and Mental Health
During meditation, you are able to learn how to handle the constant barrage of thoughts or anything that may be crowding your mind, resulting in stress. Consequently, practicing meditation on a regular basis can lead to:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
As stress can weaken the immune system over time, meditation can help combat and prevent illness. In fact, there is growing scientific research suggesting that meditation may help with:
- Chronic pain
- Tension headaches
There has also been evidence that meditation’s effect on stress can also help with inflammation. Meditation can improve functional brain connectivity, which helps the brain manage stress (a known inflammation trigger), and therefore is responsible for reduced levels of inflammation.
Stress is a contributing factor to high blood pressure, research which suggests that meditation can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health alongside a collection of other health benefits. This benefit appears to be mediated by nitric oxide, a molecule made in the body that helps relax and widen blood vessels, keeping blood pressure under control.
Beginning the Practice of Meditation
Different types of meditation may vary in their methods, but here are some simple tips to help you get started:
Schedule and prioritize: It is easy to get caught up in everyday life so before you begin meditating, think about where you want to meditate and what time of day you will set aside for meditating.
Relax: When you begin meditating, get settled and slowly decompress and relax in a comfortable position with a few deep, intentional breaths.
Focus on breathing deeply: Whether you are meditating on your own or following a guided meditation, one of the most important aspects of the practice is to allow your body to get plenty of oxygen through slow, deep breaths.
Turn your mind inwards: Scan your body from head to toe, observing any tension or discomfort, starting from the top of your head, all the way to your toes. It is important not to try to change what you find, just note it while staying in the present moment. Also, notice what parts of your body are relaxed and where there may be tension. Then begin to focus on your thoughts: what your thoughts are, what your underlying mood is, and what expectations you are holding onto. Once again, the goal is not to change what you are experiencing, simply note it and accept your current state.
Positive attitude: Meditation is a skill developed over time. Do not judge yourself for any “mistakes” you think you are making along the way. Let all your thoughts pass through without judgment.
If you are looking for a stress-busting way to incorporate relaxation and potentially help heal your body and mind, consider meditation. You don’t have to become a guru or sit in the lotus position for hours a day to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Like anything, meditation takes practice, and the most important step is getting started.