We are all living ‘non-stop’ lives these days. This and our efforts of trying to balance our work, personal life, commute, and unending information from all ends make us feel tired and fizzled out mentally.
With more and more people looking for calmness and balance, they seem to be going back to the basics i.e. the age-old art of meditation and its role in de-cluttering our lives.
Read on to know how to make meditation a way of life and to gain the many benefits of meditation.
What is meditation?
To meditate doesn’t mean that you switch off from the pursuit of things that make you happy or becoming a person that you are not.
Meditation is training your mind to be more aware of the present and clearing it off unwanted and negative thoughts to attain a sense of calm and peace. It also involves taking better control of your thought process to improve your focus and reactions.
This practice goes back to almost 5th-century when it was practiced as ‘Dhyana’ in Buddhist India and Taoist China. It later spread to other beliefs such as Islam, Judaism, Sufism,
What meditation can do for your mind?
Meditation is the art of reconnecting with your mind and grounding it enough to get in tune with yourself. This has far-fetched advantages, especially for your mind. Here are some of the most important benefits of meditation. What’s better, all these meditation and mental health benefits are have been studied by scientists and have proven to be true:
- One of the most important benefits of meditation is its ability to change the structure of the brain. Even a 5 minute meditation practice increases the cortical thickness in the Hippocampus. This is that part of the brain that regulates your emotions. Meditation helps in controlling impulsive reactions to emotions and reducing anger.
- It helps in dealing and responding better to traumatic situations, preserving your sanity during difficult times.
- Stress reduction is one of the key benefits of meditation. It reduces the production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone and activates the fight-or-flight response during stressful situations. By lowering the levels of cortisol, it improves your resilience and ability to deal with stress triggers.
- Health benefits of meditation especially help people who suffer from anxiety disorders. It helps in improving their confidence to cope with major life changes and occurrences at work. This reduced distress helps you perform better at work and deal with job pressure.
- One of the main meditation and mental health benefits is that it increases the feeling of self-worth and improves your confidence to do things better.
- It improves self-awareness and reduces your dependence on other people or substances for validity.
- One of the top benefits of meditation for mental health is that it reduces depressing thoughts and promotes positive thinking.
- The benefits of mediation for concentration cannot be stressed enough. By inducing focused thinking, it improves our attention span. This is especially beneficial for improving your performance at work.
- The health benefits of meditation especially impact older people by reducing age-related neurological decline and other problems. By promoting balanced and clear thinking, it reduces the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
All these mental health benefits of meditation extend to your physiological health and help in preventing several serious conditions. This includes lowering your risk of a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and the likes.
How to meditate?
There are many different ways to gain the benefits of meditation. Here are some of the easiest-to-start and the most effective techniques that you can follow:
- Basic meditation: Perfect for beginners, this is not a guided meditation and can be started at your convenience. Sit in a comfortable position and concentrate on your breath to clear up your thoughts. If your mind wanders, gently redirect it back to your breath.
- Yoga meditation: Meditation is a part of yoga, the art of holistic living, and is usually done after practicing the asanas. This is when the body is filled with positivity and vibrations and enhances the benefits of meditation.
Yoga meditation is best practiced with different techniques of pranayama (the practice of breath control) such as Ujjayi Pranayama, Anulom Vilom, or Kapalbhatti.
- Mindfulness meditation: This is that form of meditation that trains your mind to a state of mindfulness i.e. staying in the present. You can use the technique of ‘breath awareness’ or focus on an object to concentrate. One of the most important benefits of meditation is that it reduces stress and induces a positive outlook.
- Body scan meditation: Also known as progressive meditation, this is done by scanning your body for knots of tension and allowing it to release gradually. The top benefits of meditation and body scanning are that it relaxes the body, reduces stress, and improves your sleep.
What are some tips to gain the maximum benefits of meditation?
Here are some simple tips for you to experience and enhance the benefits of meditation:
- If you are doing meditation at home, select a space that’s well-ventilated, clean, and free of distractions.
- To gain the most benefits of meditation, don’t have unrealistic expectations of it solving all your life problems. Know your objectives and continue till the time you achieve them.
- It’s best to start with guided meditation and learning the techniques from an experienced yoga practitioner.
- If you are keen on practicing yoga meditation, it is essential to learn it from a professional to avoid fatigue, stress, and serious injuries.
- To learn guided meditation, you can also use technology such as podcasts and apps for tutorials on meditation.
- Start slow with 5-minute meditation sessions and build on these. These 5 minute meditations are perfect for initiating you into the practice without making you feel overwhelmed.
- Don’t shy away from experimenting with different meditation techniques to keep your interest alive and gain the best benefits of meditation.
- Never be harsh with yourself if your practice gets interrupted or your mind wanders. Guide your mind gently back to where you started and start again.