There are vast benefits of meditation on your mind, body, and soul. Whether it be prayer, mantras, art, singing, guided journeying, walking, or even fishing, there are many benefits to practicing meditation! In addition, anyone can do it, it is not expensive and it can be done anywhere.
Meditation in some form or other has been practiced all over the world for thousands of years. This might surprise some who picture sitting, legs crossed, on the floor in a trance all day. This image of meditation can be intimidating especially for beginners who try to clear their mind only to get overwhelmed by negative thoughts that fill the empty space. When this happens, the person understandably says, “This is not for me!”
That is the thing, meditation can be for everybody because there are so many different ways to meditate. You can pick one that fits you, your lifestyle, and the way your mind works so you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of meditating that I am sharing in this blog post. At its simplest, meditating is being in full and present awareness to whatever you are doing, whether it is breathing, staring at a candle, walking, coloring, listening or playing music, or even doing household chores.
Meditating made easy
When I was starting out, I found it easiest to follow verbal prompts (i.e., listen to a practitioner guide me through the meditation). It was something my mind could grab and stay focused on without trailing off back into my day’s to-do list. I started off with short meditations so I wasn’t overwhelmed and once I could see the benefits, I graduated longer time.
Because the human mind is distractable, many people worry if they are doing it right. I like to think of meditation as not something you do, but something you practice. The practice is to keep taking the mind off the wandering thought and re-focusing it on what you are meditating on. People think the distraction is wrong, but the distraction is human. Think of it this way: The more you are distracted, the more robust your practice. And every moment of practice, even a few moments of breathing, has benefits to you, your mind, and your body.
What is great is that there is no wrong way to do it. There may be deeper or more advanced ways, but no wrong way.
Benefits of Meditation
Modern research gives testimony to meditation’s preferred effects on stress, tension, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders, psychosis as well as physical pain and other ailments. Besides the contexts in our lives that cause these problems in the first place, the stress about them causes an inner context of self-judgment and a loud voice of self-criticism. Often this inner context exponentially increases the original problem. See Globs of Self Judgment and Worry Globs, Too.
Meditation has us going within, escaping from the predicament for a moment, suspending judgment of ourselves in order to find a place of peace. From this place, we often see our problems differently and understand new ways to move forward in our situation. It is in this state of peace, that we become aware that we are bigger than our current situations and more powerful than we realized. This has positive effects on our moods, our behavior, the way we see ourselves, and the world around us. In meditation, we often feel less alone since we can feel a sense of connection to all around us. This peace is available to us all the time in every moment, just as close as our next breath.
Watch my Video on the Benefits of Meditation
How you benefit from meditation
- Stress reduction
- Controls anxiety and teaches you to settle the monkey mind
- Promotes emotional healing
- Improves self-awareness, helps you feel and understand your feelings
- Improves memory, cognitive awareness, and focus
- Encourages compassion for self and others
- Controls physical pain and emotional pain
- Regulates blood pressure
- Improves sleep
Check out these research findings about meditation benefits…
“A study by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2005 showed that a group practicing meditation for about 40 minutes a day had measurably thicker tissue in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for cognitive emotional processing and well-being.”
“Researchers at UCLA Laboratory of Neuro-Imaging compared the brains of experienced meditators with those of a control group of nonmeditators. They found that the meditators’ brains contained more gray matter — the tissue responsible for high-level information processing — than those of the nonmeditators, especially in the areas associated with attention, body awareness and the ability to modulate emotional responses.”
“In a study published in 2010, a team of neuroscientists scanned the brains of volunteers before and after they received eight weeks of training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a type of meditation. The new meditators showed measurable changes in two important brain areas — growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and learning, and shrinkage in the amygdala, a portion of the brain that initiates the body’s response to stress.”
Source: Sharon Salzberg. Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author of Real Happiness: The Power of Mediation