Meditation has been shown to strengthen immunity, reduce anxiety, and help you get a good night’s sleep – all aspects of self-care that are important to keep in mind as we tackle our day-to-day lives. And while there are different ways of meditating, they all offer a similar set of proven benefits for mental and physical health, especially as a way to manage stress.
The first step to managing stress is to recognize that stress isn’t a force beyond your control. It doesn’t exist outside of you in the environment or external situations; instead, stress is an internal response to a perceived threat or unmet need. Continue reading to learn about seven science-backed benefits of meditation that will motivate you to pull up a cushion and get started.
1. Meditation Reverses the Effects of the Stress Response
In meditation, you journey from activity to silence. Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about zoning out and emptying your thoughts. It’s about diving inwards and entering a state of restful awareness. Your body goes into a state of deep rest while your mind stays alert and awake. In this restful alertness, the body experiences healing effects that counteract the fight-or-flight response such as:
- Decreased heart rate
- Normalized blood pressure
- Deeper breathing
- Reduced production of stress hormones
- Strengthened immunity
- Efficient use of oxygen
- Decreased inflammation
2. Meditation Increases Focus, Creativity & Productivity
Stressful deadlines, demanding workloads, and endless meetings can create a mental clutter that prevents you from concentrating on tasks and making intelligent decisions. Mindful practices like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises silence the noise and free the mind of the clutter that is hindering productivity. Increased blood circulation also improves brain function for a sharp and focused mind. Meditation refines the inner emotions, balancing the mind, body, and soul. This results in a clear animation of creative expression in an employee, helping them complete tasks innovatively.
3. Meditation Boosts Emotional Intelligence
Many of us, most of the time, have trouble understanding our emotions. Meditation trains us to become more aware of our feelings and emotions and helps us process them better. Simply believing every thought that enters your mind is not constructive. You need to make the effort to observe your thoughts and attempt to understand what the mind is doing to learn about your inner self.
4. Meditation Improves Sleep
There is concrete evidence that meditation helps with sleep quality and can treat insomnia effectively. People, especially students, who often have a difficult time sleeping thanks to their minds always being overstimulated, can benefit from meditation by training their minds and body to disconnect from the chaos of everyday life. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase the quality of your sleep.
5. Meditation Lessens Anxiety
If you’ve suffered from a heart attack before, listening to 30 minutes of meditative music a day can lessen your anxiety, relieve post-op stress and improve your recovery. Studies have found that heart attack patients who spent half an hour daily listening to music experienced less distress, less pain, and fewer doubts about their progress than patients who preferred less rhythmic recovery.
This mindful guided meditation can help you manage stress better.
6. Meditation Keeps the Mind Young
Meditation is said to improve attention and clarity of thinking, helping keep your mind young. Combining mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers can improve focus on thoughts. A review found evidence that several meditation techniques can improve attention, memory, and mental quickness in older volunteers. Different techniques of meditation teach you to recognize toxic thought patterns that are harmful and self-destructive. By gaining greater awareness of your thought process, you steer your mind towards constructive patterns.
7. Meditation Helps Manage Depression Effectively
Awareness of the present moment can equip you to notice the oncoming of a depressive episode. Since meditation trains you to pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, you can catch yourself when you go into a negative dark hole and train yourself to reset these thought patterns. You can also notice increased irritability, fatigue, or less interest in things that you like as a sign of a depressive episode and consciously work towards self-care activities that make you feel better.
When you spend time in the inner silence of meditation, you begin to have a spontaneous experience of the attributes of your true self. Instead of getting stuck in constricted awareness, which limits your possibilities, you experience expanded or pure awareness, which is the field of all possibilities. This awakening to your true self is gradual but little by little, you release yourself from limiting thought patterns to embrace freedom of expression.