Meditation is a mental exercise that involves relaxation, focus, and awareness. Meditation is to the mind what physical exercise is to the body. The practice is usually done individually, in a still seated position, and with eyes closed.
However, there are other forms of meditation that involve a person being in different resting positions.
Numerous studies have proven the benefits of meditation. Since meditation involves training the mind to focus and redirect an individual’s thoughts, most of its advantages are mental. However, a convincing amount of scientific evidence shows that meditation can have far-reaching physical health gains. Since meditation can easily evoke a sense of balance, peace and calm, which results in increased energy , it can be considered as an important constituent of one’s cardio protective attempt to reduce heart conditions.Meditation can also reduce unhealthy feelings like anger, depression, anxiety, among others.
Although there are different types of meditation, they all offer the following mental, emotional, and physical benefits.
Meditation can be practiced in any of these modes:
Concentration: This mode, also called focused attention meditation is practiced by focusing attention on a single object, internally or externally.
Observation: Also known as open monitoring meditation, this mode involves paying attention to whatever is predominant in your experience at the present moment. It is practiced without allowing a person’s attention to get fixed on any particular thing.
Awareness: By allowing awareness to remain in the present moment, a meditator’s, undistracted attention is not engaged in either focusing or observing
How important is meditation?
- It helps to relax the body and induce sleep
- Meditation has been proven to control stress and anxiety
- Increases attention span and concentration levels
- May help fight addictions
- Meditation promotes general body fitness
Let us delve deeper into these and more benefits within the confines of mental, emotional and physical health.
Effect of Meditation on Mental Health
For decades now, sleep specialists have been combining mindfulness meditation with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to treat sleep disorders. This practice has been popularized as nature’s way to relieve anyone from use of sleeping pills. Meditation for relaxation has been used in Asiatic cultures for centuries and is being accepted into modern science.
A recent study found that practicing meditation for as few as four days may be sufficient to boost a person’s attention span. During mindfulness meditation, focusing on the present trains the mind to concentrate. When the process is repeated, neuroplasticity causes the brain to develop enhanced concentration over a long period of time.
Meditation and Emotional Health
Yoga, a type of meditation, has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. Clinical trials conducted on more than 3,000 individuals in 2019 revealed that yogic meditation brings down the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, mindfulness meditation aids in mood elevation in as little as 5 minutes.
By inhibiting the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines, meditation is effective against post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia—all of which are symptoms of stress and anxiety. The emotional health benefits of meditation might have been the very first advantages of the practice to be discovered as far back as 5,000 BCE.
How Meditation Promotes Physical Health
Other activities that go hand in hand with meditation add to its efficacy. For instance, repeating a mantra during meditation has been found to elicit a calming effect. The physical activity involved in yogic meditation practices not only promotes general body fitness, it also works and relaxes important muscles located deep in the human body.
Many people who practice any of the different types of meditation report being more self-conscious after taking up the activity. This self-awareness raises a person’s self-esteem, a process that is marked by other beneficial habits as healthy eating and positive thinking.
The fact that meditation is effective against emotional and mental issues has made the practice preferable among healthcare professionals looking for natural alternatives to antidepressants. Learning how to leverage such a basic practice as meditation for all its advantages can help to boost quality of life greatly. Taking a few minutes from the day to meditate is sufficient for anyone looking to reap all these benefits.