Benefits of Meditation

Stressed out? Meditation is a great way to manage your stress as well as condition your mind to be able to concentrate for longer periods of time.

Meditation, an ancient practice that originates from India and Egypt, is the act of intentionally focusing the mind to create a state of awareness and tranquility. Techniques such as mindfulness (being present in the moment), non-judgment and deep seated breathing are used to achieve what is known as alignment. Scientific research shows that the benefits of meditation are extensive, especially if one remains consistent in their practice.  

1. Relieves stress

We’ve all seen the cliché movie trope of a highly stressed individual trying to reach their zen by taking part in meditative practices. And then after a consistent struggle to reach inner peace, they’re able to meditate and they’re suddenly not as stressed anymore. Of course, movies are created for entertainment purposes and aren’t necessarily a true reflection of reality, but there is some truth to this movie trope. Stress relief is one of the benefits of meditation. 

When you’re stressed, you tend to clench your jaw and your muscles become stiff. This is because stress causes your body’s fight-or-flight response to kick in, which can have a negative impact on your physical health in the long run. On the other hand, meditation causes your body to relax, allowing for it to repair and build resilience towards stressful situations over time.  

2. Improves concentration

Intentionally focusing on your breath, thoughts, an object in the room and even a sound in your immediate environment can help you ground yourself in the process of meditation. For example, you may decide to count your breath, focus on how the mat beneath you feels on your skin, or actively listen to the buzzing of the air conditioner. The lack of distractions when you meditate means that you can focus on the act itself while living in the present moment. This repeated single-minded focus can physically change the structure of the brain in what is known as neuroplasticity, resulting in an ability to concentrate better overtime.  

3. Helps with introspection

Meditation requires you to sit down with your thoughts and observe them, as well as how they make you feel. This serves as a great tool for introspection, as becoming comfortable with your thoughts can help you identify patterns of thought or behaviour that you’d like to change. This is because mediation makes you mindful, and when you’re engaging in the act of mindfulness, you’re more aware of how your actions affect not only yourself and your immediate environment, but the greater world as well. To put it simply, meditation is an opportunity to get to know yourself better.  

4. Helps cultivate gratitude

Scientific research shows that meditation increases happiness and helps stabilize your mood over time. Studies by Harvard neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, found that meditation resulted in the amygdala — the part of the brain responsible for the fight-or-flight response — shrinking. This results in less cortisol (or stress hormone) in the body, making you more joyful and appreciative.  

5. Can help with pain management

A study by Fadel Zeidan, conducted at Wake Forest University, induced pain into participants before and after teaching them mindful meditation. MRIs were taken to measure brain activity, and results showed that pain was reduced by 40% during meditation, than without meditation.

Although meditation may not cure pain, multiple scientific studies show that it can certainly help alleviate it. You should consider meditating regularly to improve the quality of your life. Even starting with just 5 minutes daily can make a significant difference in various aspects of your life, adding to your overall wellbeing.

Learn more about wellness and the benefits of meditation with HealthSpas.

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