There are many benefits to the simple practice of meditation. And each week a new study proves another one or concludes an ancient benefit through a well-researched study. If you’ve been around someone or talked to someone who meditates on a daily basis, you’ll never hear the end of it.
I’m someone too. And I can say with full confidence that meditation has changed my life. The benefits can vary from person to person and what you’re going through in life. For me, they encompassed viewing interpersonal relationships in a different light and giving up things I had no control over. Ah! The relieving feeling was nothing I can compare to.
If you’re a meditation beginner, or just looking for some motivation to continue your practice with, here are 10 benefits of meditation:
Controlled & Better Response To Stress:
Stress-reduction is a proven and experienced benefit of meditation. Stress is all about how we perceive the situation in our mind and how radically we can put it into perspective. According to research, stress dampens the activity in the amygdala and improves the connection between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, this decreases stress hormone levels in the body. A reduction leads to better sleep, a restful mind, and better discernment.
Sharpens Our Attention & Improves Our Focus:
It’s a given that meditation helps sharpen our attention because the whole practice revolves around concentrating in the present moment. Studies have found that those who practice meditation on a daily basis are better able to handle what they want to focus their mind on. Imagine having a conversation with someone and suddenly your mind wanders to a pigeon making noise outside. You lose concentration at the moment from what the person is talking about. The simple practice boosts your awareness so you can focus on things you want to focus on.
Meditation Increases Compassion & Empathy:
Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, evokes the feeling of understanding and oneness in an individual. Neuroscientists have found that the brain’s area of empathy lights up significantly during meditation practice. And when you boost inner awareness through meditation and have better control over your emotions, it’s logical that your outer awareness and ability to perceive someone else’s emotions ups too.
Betters Women’s Health
Both mental and emotional stressors can worsen PMS symptoms and period cramps. When you hold on to these stressors for a long time, they can affect your reproductive health. Luckily, mediation is a great cure for them all. Several studies have demonstrated how meditation and mindfulness can improve PMS symptoms in women and up their potential for pain tolerance and emotional resilience. Moreover, reduction in stress levels gives a better period experience and negates any effects on reproductive health, if any.
Meditation Rivals Antidepressants For Depression & Anxiety
A research study was done specifically to work out the relationship between depression, anxiety, and mindfulness meditation found that the effect of the latter was 0.3. If you think that’s a small number, the effect of antidepressants is also 0.3. It turns out, a meditation practice can have as good an impact on your depression as your drug dose. Mind you though, meditation takes practice and is no magic bullet to clinical depression. You may still need help from a professional, but meditation can work as a way to manage the symptoms.
Meditation Lowers Your Chances Of Memory Loss
Meditation can increase blood flow to the brain and refine your memory within just eight weeks of practice. The technique, surprisingly, also reverses memory loss in people with memory problems. Don’t you feel annoyed when you keep forgetting things and you’re thinking something but says another? Meditation can help bring your mind to center and focus. The practice is all about connecting mind and body; where the body is, the mind will be. Plus, meditation increases telomerase – an enzyme that reduces progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
An Easy 10-Minute Beginner Meditation Practice:
Before starting I’d recommend taking a minute or two to just calm down and take a few deep breaths to bring your focus to the present moment, and the breath.
- Find a comfortable place in your house to meditate. Sit down, preferably on the floor, and take a few deep breaths.
- Set a time limit of 10 minutes on the timer and close your eyes.
- The key here is to bring awareness to the present moment, so notice the sensation of your legs, arms, and full body. Focus on the sounds present in your environment and of course, the rising and falling sensation of the breath.
- A mistake many people make during meditation is they try and control their thoughts. But instead, you’ve to become aware of them and slowly let them go. Check out this video by Headspace to see what I’m talking about.
- Feel the breath, and start counting from 1-10. One for inhaling and the second for exhaling, third for inhaling and the fourth for exhaling… Reach till 10 and begin again.
- If your mind wanders and you lose the focus on the breath or the count, no worries, bring it back to the present moment.
- Don’t judge or be hard on yourself if you lose focus a lot. It’s okay and it will happen.
- After you are done take a moment to appreciate this practice, your willpower, and this present moment.