What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice that involves an individual training their mind to be able to focus and remain present in the moment. It is an ancient technique that is linked back to a Hindu tradition in India around 1500 BCE although historians believe that it could have been practiced even earlier at 3000 BCE. It has been used for thousands of years in various cultures and spiritual traditions and has gained popularity in recent years as it can improve both mental and physical wellbeing.
Typically, meditation involves that individuals sit in a comfortable and relaxing position so that they can focus their attention on a point of focus such as a sound or mantra. As the mind wanders, the individual beings their attention back to the point of focus, building mental awareness and concentration.
There are many different types of Meditation though that include mindfulness meditation, loving-kindness meditation, transcendental meditation and loving-kindness mediation among others. Some popular forms of meditation include movement such as yoga or tai chi.
What are the benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation on mental health are numerous with research showing it has positive effects on mental health as well as physical health. Some benefits are that it reduces stress, improves sleep, enhances your focus and concentration and overall, well-being. Some examples of it benefiting mental health include:
1.) Better emotional regulation
Emotional regulation refers to the ability to manage and control one’s emotions in a healthy and adaptive way. It involves recognizing and understanding one’s emotions and being able to respond to them in a way that is appropriate and constructive. Meditation has a magical built-in ability to function as an emotional regulator for individuals. This is due to humans’ brains having the remarkable natural short-term state changes which may evolve into long-term trait changes. Meditation allows increased positive feelings and enhances a person’s overall sense of well-being, this meaning they are able to maintain a calm, balanced, non-judgmental state of mind allowing for the letting go of painful thoughts and feelings.
Meditation can be an effective tool for emotional regulation as it helps a person’s mindfulness and self-awareness. By practising meditation, individuals can learn to observe their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without any judgment. It allows a person to better understand their emotions and develop more effective ways of responding to them.
2.) Decrease depression
Depression is a common mental health condition that can show up in multiple ways. It can appear in your life at any given moment and has symptoms that range depending on how chronic your symptoms are. People are often sceptical when it comes to using meditation to improve their mental health but meditation can generally help manage a person’s symptoms in a variety of ways. Depression can affect day to day life and sometimes involves a person thinking a lot of dark thoughts, making them feel worthless or angry at themselves. Meditation can teach a person to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without passing judgement or criticizing themselves any longer. Instead of you pushing away dark thoughts about yourself or acting like they don’t exist, it allows you to be able to notice and exist them. By doing this a person can disrupt any cycles of negative thinking they might have.
Meditation allows you to learn to stay present in the moment and notice signs of a depressive episode early. By paying attention to your emotions and noticing negative changes it allows you to focus on self-care and reduce the effects of the next episode that you may have.
3.) Reduce anxiety
Anxiety is a big issue many people face and it can be challenging for their everyday life. Stress and anxiety can be a challenge for many that inhabit everyday activities and their feelings towards certain things. Meditation has shown through research that it can significantly reduce blood vessel stiffness which indicates less stress or pressure on a person’s arteries. A single session of medication showed these results and allowed researchers to see the psychological and physical benefits of meditation.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm and balance which can benefit your emotional well-being. It allows you to relax and cope with any stress or anxious thoughts you may be feeling. This can help overcome any anxious thoughts by allowing you to refocus your attention on something peaceful or calmful. Overall, it allows you to carry on more calmly throughout your day.
While meditation certainly won’t be able to cure any mental health problems you may have it certainly can help you to make them more manageable. Meditation has a variety of positives to it and can help many individuals by them using it. Not only can it help mental health in a plethora of ways it can also benefit other aspects such as physical health. I thoroughly do believe that it has the possibility to help many people.