The Benefits of Meditation on Your Mental and Physical Health
The mind is a fascinating, complex and mysterious thing. The entire life of a human being, their experiences, habits, preferences and deepest desires lie in this impalpable but very much existing matter.
Your brain has the ability to make you the happiest person alive or take you down to deep, dark places that are hard to escape without significant self-work.
Most people are not aware of their thoughts and the ability to control them. They keep repeating old patterns of behavior and never discover what’s under the layers of their personality.
This is where meditation steps in. It’s considered a powerful healing practice for the body and mind, and rightfully so.
Not only is it a spiritual discipline, but also a lifestyle. It’s catching your thoughts as soon as they emerge and observing them from a distance.
Keep reading to discover how meditation can improve your physical and mental well-being and make you a calmer, happier and healthier person.
The Positive Effects of Meditation on Your Mental Health
Our entire perception of life and happiness is a direct result of our thoughts and emotions. Thousands of thoughts pass through our brain during the day.
Some of them are useful and necessary for normal everyday functioning and doing our jobs. Others are completely unnecessary and can be very damaging to our mental health.
The truth is - thoughts are not facts and we shouldn’t accept them as such. They’re based on past experiences, learned behaviors and social norms. They’re not who you are as a human being.
When thoughts become negative and invasive, they can significantly decrease the quality of life and lead to mental conditions like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, phobias and more.
Meditation can help you take control over your thoughts and redirect them to a mindset that serves you. It’s a simple practice for quietening the mind and bringing you back to the present moment.
The trick here is to learn to notice your thoughts and not label them as positive or negative. Try to just let them be without dwelling on them too much.
Reaching a silent mind is a challenge, especially for beginners. The only thing meditation needs from you is commitment to the practice and trust in its power to change your life.
Meditating regularly for at least 20 minutes a day can help you:
- Regulate your mood.
- Improve your focus and productivity.
- Ease feelings of loneliness, social isolation and social anxiety.
- Improve the quality of your relationships.
- Awaken your creativity.
- Improve your self-awareness.
- Better manage your emotions and reactions to situations.
- Cope with stressful events and triggers.
- Reduce depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
A study by the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging found that practicing meditation regularly can help the brain make better decisions and process information faster.
The study compared the MRI scans of 50 long-term meditators (who have been meditating for years) to those of 50 people who don’t meditate and the results were astonishing.
They found significant differences in the cerebral cortexes of the subjects. Meditators had more pronounced folding in this area that confirmed the brain’s ability of adapting to new conditions. Meditation, was found, is an important factor in this process.
By practicing mindful meditation, you’ll witness your life slowly changing for the better. You’ll be more motivated to work on your goals, but also relax and not take things too seriously.
The Positive Effects of Meditation on Your Physical Health
Though meditation is a spiritual practice, it can still do wonders for your physical health.
Negative thoughts typical for anxiety, depression and panic disorders cause the brain and adrenal glands to release stress hormones. In actual dangerous events, the main hormones released into the body are adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine.
During an anxiety or panic attack, the brain perceives the situation as ‘imminent danger’ and prepares for a ‘fight or flight’ response. It starts producing stress hormones because it’s incapable of distinguishing between real and unreal danger.
When the body is in a state of constant prolonged stress, it releases stress hormones in excessive amounts. They rummage through the system doing serious damage and causing a variety of diseases.
With only 20-30 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day, you can:
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Reduce the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks.
- Reduce symptoms of PMS and menopause.
- Regulate your breathing.
- Relieve discomfort.
- Relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Prevent premature aging.
- Boost your immune system.
- Stop emotional eating.
- Manage urges of self-harm.
- Become more resilient to pain.
According to a 2017 study conducted by the Coventry University Center for Psychology, Behavior and Achievement, the most groundbreaking effect of meditation on our physical health is its ability to reverse DNA reactions that cause stress and depression.
Meditation is considered a mind-body intervention (MBI) alongside yoga, Tai Chi, music/dance/art therapy and hypnosis. All of these disciplines aim to relax you, make you feel better, and keep stress and depression at bay.
Doing meditation every day can actually alter the way you react to stressful situations, by making changes on a molecular level.
There are over 20 different types of meditation serving different purposes. The most commonly practiced are:
- Mindfulness meditation – focuses on keeping you in the present moment through observing your breath;
- Vipassana meditation – focuses on the movement of your breath and seeing things just as they are to reach complete liberation from mental clutter;
- Mantra meditation – uses repetition of mantras to help the mind focus and expand;
- Chakra meditation – focuses on one of the 7 chakras in the body, usually involving mantras and visualizations.
Practice Meditation Daily for Optimal Wellbeing
Meditation is one of the easiest ways to calm your mind, reduce stress and boost your mood. If you practice it regularly, you’ll discover a whole new world of possibilities, free of anxiety, mental barriers and racing thoughts.
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Frosina A. Ivanovic is a content marketing specialist and writer. She’s passionate about quality coffee, travel, wellness, and digital marketing. You can connect with Frosina on LinkedIn or her website, Zhillmatic.