Need to reduce stress, improve your focus and increase feelings of calm? Then it may be time to give the ancient practice of meditation a go! Below we list the 5 main benefits of meditation.
What is meditation?
Meditating is a very personal practice and means different things to different people. Whilst there are many ways to meditate, in its most simplistic form, it’s about focusing on your breathing. The mental exercise encourages mindfulness, allowing us to pause the narratives in our mind and choose what we’d like to focus on. The oldest documented evidence of meditation are wall arts in the Indian subcontinent dating from approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. So, if people have been meditating for so long, there must be some serious benefits?! We explore some of the main reasons to meditate below.
What are the main benefits of meditation?
Meditating requires no special equipment, just a little time to practice and you could be reaping the rewards!
Relaxes and De-Stresses
Probably the most well known reason to meditate is it’s relaxing effect. We all need a breather from our fast paced lives, ‘self-care’ is needed now more than ever in the current pandemic. So, sit quietly and focus on your body and the sensation of breathing above all else. This will quieten all those niggles in your mind and activate the intentional brain. In that ‘moment’, you suddenly notice the sounds of the birds outside and feel the sun on your face. You become very aware of your body and how you’re feeling and a calming sensation comes over you. Once you start to really focus on the ‘now’, the daily stresses and anxieties have no space in your mind anymore! In summary, this is true mindfulness and incredibly de-stressing.
Meditating for just 5 to 10 minutes can work much in the same way as a power nap. By practicing mindfulness you can reduce worrying thoughts and ease muscle tension as a side effect. Therefore re-energising both body and mind. Those re-occurring narratives in our mind, ranging from ‘what shall I cook for tea’ to ‘how am I going to pay that bill’ are truly exhausting. Allocating some quiet time for yourself, is the best way to reset and re-energise. Thus allowing us to continue our day at full steam ahead!
Meditation centers around being mindful, concentrating on the ‘now’ rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By being intentionally present, you gain valuable insights into your thoughts. This allows you to truly connect with your inner-self and achieve self-awareness. When you start noticing your thinking, you can work on blocking out negative thoughts and encouraging positive ones. This has many benefits, helping us to heal and slowing down our pace of life.
Boosts our Immune System
New research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have a range of health and performance benefits. Including reducing blood pressure, improving cognitive function and boosting our immune system. There is even a meditative practice that combines concentration with cold water therapy and breathing techniques. It has indeed been claimed that this method can influence our autonomic nervous system (ANS). Therefore affecting our immune responses as our brains communicate with our immune system. If you don’t fancy sitting in freezing cold water, practicing mindfulness has been shown to have similar beneficial effects. Since we now know our immune system responds to our thoughts, by meditating, you’re creating a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish!
Whether you’re looking for an all-natural way to treat insomnia or just improve your sleep quality, meditation could be the perfect tool. How many times have you lay in bed, not being able to sleep due to your racing thoughts. As a relaxation technique, meditation can quieten the mind while enhancing inner peace and allowing you to drift off. It can also improve insomnia symptoms by reducing measures of arousal in the brain. Completing a meditation before bed could help lower your heart rate and slow breathing. Hence allowing you to drift into a deeper sleep and rest both body and mind.
There are many documented benefits of various forms of meditation. The above are just some of the main examples. Who wouldn’t benefit from less stress, more energy, a boosted immune system and more sleep?! If you fancy practicing some meditation, we like this article for more information on the different types.