Chances are this is something your best friend will say to you when you’re hyperventilating over a tiny detail that didn’t go as planned. But, have you ever stopped and actually tried it?
If you have, you’ll know that it works.
There’s something so calming about closing your eyes and taking a breath through your nose that is so deep you feel your abdomen fully expanding. The slow release through your mouth eases all of the tension out of your muscles, and your worries begin to vanish.
We’re told over and over again about the importance of a sound mind, yet most of us don’t take the time to make our own mental health a priority. Mental health days have become a cop out excuse to take a day off from work. But personal time should not be treated as a luxury anymore.
The truth is that the world around us is never going to stop moving. So, it’s up to you to find a way to block out the noise and refocus.
Harvard has confirmed that meditation reduces stress, fosters concentration, and increases our capacity for empathy and compassion.
But did you know that meditation can also improve your memory, fight addictions, and lead to more restful sleep?
There are even more proven benefits, but what are the chances you’ll actually wake up tomorrow and devote 5 – 10 minutes to meditating?
Slim to none, if we’re being honest. We all know that getting started is the hardest part, but once you experience the benefits you’ll wonder how you went so long without them.
So, let’s look more into the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of meditation to give you the push you need to add this practice into your daily life.
You may be surprised to find out that meditation can do much more than calm you down!
You can click to scroll ahead, we’re going to cover:
- 11 Benefits of Meditation
- The Best Way to Start
- Enjoy the Benefits of Meditation Today
11 Benefits of Meditation
1. Stress Reliever
People begin practicing meditation for a variety of reasons, but to reduce stress is definitely #1. And that’s because it’s been proven to work.
Stress will cause an increase in a hormone called cortisol. This increase causes inflammation promoting chemicals called cytokines to be released. The result?
Sleep disruption, depression, anxiety, increased blood pressure and cloudy thinking.
One study showed that meditation reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress.
So no, it’s not just a bunch of ‘hippie dippie’ hocus pocus. There’s real scientific evidence behind these claims.
Plus, you might see an improvement in some conditions you didn’t even know were stress related, like:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Post traumatic stress disorder
2. Controls Anxiety
With less stress comes less anxiety.
But, it goes beyond being able to let go of daily stresses. Mindfulness Meditation has helped people reduce their anxiety and keep it at bay in the long run.
It’s even helped reduce the symptoms associated with:
- Social anxiety
- Paranoid thoughts
- Obsessive compulsive behaviors
- Panic attacks
The anxiety relief benefits of meditation make it a favored ritual for those in high-pressure work environments. In fact, some of the most successful people of our time believe in the power of meditation.
Who, you ask?
Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Michael Jordan, just to name a few.
3. Promotes Emotional Health
When the brains of those who practice meditation were compared to those who do not, measurable changes in activity were recorded in areas related to positive thinking and optimism.
This all results in an improved self image and outlook on life.
According to Ronnie Newman, Director of Research and Health Promotion for the Art of Living Foundation, “Meditation puts you on the fast track to being happy.”
What more of a reason do you need to start than your own happiness?
4. Enhances Self-Awareness
Some forms of meditation are focused on gaining a greater awareness of your thoughts. With this awareness comes the ability to recognize when your thoughts are harmful and self-defeating.
You’ll see yourself begin to alter your thought patterns to be more constructive. This will help you to develop a stronger understanding of yourself, and how you relate to those around you.
In return, you’ll experience an increase in your emotional stability, making you less likely to be influenced by any negative people in your life.
5. Lengthens Attention Span
Meditation works wonders at increasing the strength and endurance of your attention span. So much so that you only need to practice it for a few days before you’ll start feeling the effects.
You’ll see an improvement in your ability to reorient your attention and stay focused on tasks for a longer period of time. You might even see yourself recalling more details than you would have previously remembered.
There’s even been evidence that meditation may reverse patterns in the brain which contribute to poor attention and mind-wandering.
This means more productive time studying or at work – leading to greater professional successes!
6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
While you’re increasing your attention span, you’re also helping to keep your mind young. New research shows that meditation boosts your ability to store and consolidate new information.
And meditation has been known to improve memory and increase mental sharpness as you age.
The healing properties of meditation are so great that they’ve partially improved the memory in patients with dementia.
7. Can Generate Kindness & Empathy
Metta, sometimes called loving-kindness meditation, enhances brain areas associated with mental processing and empathy. It all starts with the giving of blessings to yourself.
You might feel a little silly repeating these mantras to yourself at first. But if you commit to it, you’ll quickly begin to develop kind thoughts and feelings towards yourself.
With continued metta meditation practice, you’ll be able to extend these feelings of kindness and forgiveness to the outside world- even your perceived enemies.
The more you give to it, the more you’ll feel an increase in positive feelings and compassion towards yourself and others.
8. May Help Fight Addictions
Meditation can help you achieve a level of mental discipline that is strong enough to break dependencies.
As you begin to explore the triggers for your addictive behavior, meditation will increase the level of self control you have over your emotions and impulses. This increase in awareness aids in redirecting your attention and developing a stronger willpower.
This holds true for food addiction, too. Mindfulness Meditation helps participants reduce emotional and binge eating.
9. Improves Sleep
Do you find yourself tossing and turning all night, unable to shut your brain off enough to get some restful shuteye?
Well, you’re certainly not alone in that. Almost half of the population will struggle with insomnia at one point or another.
But the control that meditation helps you have over your mind can help you redirect those runaway thoughts that keep your brain turned on when your body is begging for rest. So you’ll be able to power your mind down for the night and get those zzz’s you’re desperately needing.
10. Helps Control Pain
Pain is connected to your state of mind and any stress has the ability to magnify these feelings of suffering.
But, those who meditate show increased activity in the center of the brain that’s known to control pain. Not so coincidentally, they also report less sensitivity to pain and a great ability to cope with it.
How much pain relief are we talking about?
Yep, you read that right. The power we have over our own minds is greater than a man made drug.
11. Improves Focus
In today’s society we’re expected to be master multitaskers. We have the technology at our fingertips to respond to emails, browse Instagram, and shop online all while keeping up with a handful of group chats.
Yes, we are able to do so much more at once than we used to.
But that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Do you find yourself losing focus? Do you get distracted easily?
Meditation can help you improve cognition and increase your ability to focus.
So the next time you pick up your phone to aimlessly scroll through the ‘gram for 5 minutes, try to stop yourself. Instead, use the opportunity to spend those extra minutes to clear your head and regain focus.
The Best Way to Start
You can start working Meditation into your daily routine right now! Close the device you’re using, and your eyes. Sit back and focus only on your breathing. Repeat, “in, out, in, out” with each breath if you have to.
Do not allow any stressful or negative thoughts into your mind. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty about taking this timeout (even if you’re at work)!
Spend a few conscious minutes like this. It may be harder than it sounds!
Don’t let your mind wander to the shopping list you need to make, or your meeting later. Live in this moment only.
Then start adding these “mental timeouts” throughout your day.
As your Meditation practice expands, add elements that calm you, like music, scents, a bath. Take full advantage of your “me” time and make it as productive as possible.
Enjoy the Benefits of Meditation Today
Meditation can improve your performance at work, your satisfaction with life, and your overall emotional well-being. It can replace medications and dependencies, and enhance your memory.
The short- and long-term benefits of Meditation are undeniable and medically proven. Everyone can reap the rewards of Meditation if they allow it into their schedule and into their life.
What’s your experience with meditation? Let us know in the comments!
Up Next: Mind & Soul | The Power of A Positive Well-Being