WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. It can be used to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as an easy way to reduce stress and develop concentration which in return reduces anxiety, depression and a more fulfilled life.
Meditation can also be a tool to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance.
12 BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
⦁ Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. These effects disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
⦁ In an 8 week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced inflammation response caused by stress.
⦁ Furthermore, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
⦁ People with high anxiety levels are found to benefit the most from meditation in a meta-analysis study done with nearly 1300 adults (J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May; 20(5):330-41)
⦁ Another study in 47 people with chronic pain found that completing an 8-week meditation program led to noticeable improvements in depression, anxiety, and pain over 1 year. (Psychiatry Danub. 2015 Sept;27 Suppl 1:S209-11)
Promotes emotional health
⦁ Some form of meditation can lead to improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life.
⦁ For example, one review of treatments given to more than 3500 adults found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression (JAMA Intern Med. 2012 Mar;174 (3): 357-68.)
⦁ Another study found that people who completed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative thoughts in response to viewing negative images, compared with those in a control group.
⦁ Emotional health is able to be regulated with the control of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
⦁ Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self. This is important as anger, resentment affects yout daily work and people around you.
⦁ The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns.
⦁ Additionally, experience in meditation may cultivate more creative problem-solving skills.
⦁ Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.
Lengthens attention span
⦁ Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase strength and endurance of your attention.
⦁ Visual tasks and attention span are greatly improved with this meditation experience.
⦁ Moreover, one review concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying and poor attention.
Possible to reduce age-related memory loss
⦁ Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young. Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus your thoughts. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have shown it improves performance on neuropsychological tests. (J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;48(1):1-12 doi: 10.3233/JAD-142766)
⦁ The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may boost your memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
Can generate kindness
⦁ Meditation can increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.
⦁ Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself.
⦁ Through practise, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends, then acquaintances, and ultimately enemies.
⦁ One study in 100 adults randomly assigned to a program that included loving-kindness meditation found that these benefits were dose-dependant. In other words, the more time people spent in weekly metta meditation practice, the more positive feelings they experienced.
⦁ Metta meditation is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy, and compassionate behavior toward others.
May help fight addictions
⦁ The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.
⦁ Meditation helps to redirect their attention, manage their emotions and impulses, and increase their understanding of the causes behind their addiction.
⦁ One study in 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder found that practicing transcendental meditation was associated with lower levels of stress, psychological distress, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months ( J Subst Abuse Treat. 2018 Apr;87:23-30.)
⦁ Meditation can also help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating.
⦁ When the mind is in a state of being aware, it helps patients manage triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, manage unhealthy eating, and redirect other unwanted habits.
⦁ Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point.
⦁ One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and had improved insomnia severity, compared with those who had an unmedicated control condition.
⦁ It helps redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia.
⦁ Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you are more likely to fall asleep.
Helps control pain
⦁ Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions.
⦁ A large meta-analysis of studies enrolling nearly 3500 participants concluded that meditation was associated with decreased pain. (JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Mar;174(3):357-68)
⦁ Both meditators and non-meditators experienced the same causes of pain, but meditators showed greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced a reduced sensation of pain.
⦁ Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used to supplement medical care or physical therapy.
Decreases blood pressure
⦁ Meditation can help maintain your blood pressure levels but it is not an indication to stop your oral medication once started. It can help to calm your daily stressors and help maintain your blood pressure readings.
⦁ Meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension, and the fight-or-flight response that increases alertness in stressful situations.
⦁ These results are attainable with consistent long term meditation.
⦁ Most meditation techniques do not require specialised equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes daily.
⦁ If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it
There are 2 major styles of meditation:
Focused-attention meditation. This style concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualisation. It emphasises getting rid of your mind of distractions. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra, or a calming sound.
Open-monitoring meditation. This style encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought, and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses.
⦁ If your regular work and home environments do not allow for consistent, quiet alone time, consider participating in a class. This can also improve your chances of success by providing a supportive community.
⦁ Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a consistent habit and allow you to start the day positively.
Our mind is a tool that can empower your enlightenment and help you manage your inner strengths which helps you focus throughout the day with a better sense of positivity which in return leads to an improved overall quality of life. Most people are living with high stress levels due to the fact they are unhappy with themselves and project it to their surroundings. Meditation can be beneficial for patients with chronic diseases to help them manage their condition better.