September 06, 2018
Meditation is an ancient art with the earliest records of the practice dating all the way back to 1500 BCE,where it first originated in India. Meditation has grown in popularity ever since, with everyone from celebrities to psychologists and doctors praising the practice for its many mental and physical benefits.
If you’ve been considering trying meditation, read on to find out how this mindful technique can transform your life.
Meditation has long been used to relieve the negative effects that stress, anxiety, and depression can have on the body. Meditative techniques to control your breathing are simple to do and can be practiced virtually anywhere. Begin by finding a quiet place with minimal distractions, and get into a comfortable, relaxed position. At first, it may be difficult to clear your mind, so try repeating a word or phrase in your head as you focus calmly on your breath.
Practice mindful breathing first thing in the morning to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead, or meditate in the evening to unwind after a busy, stressful day’s work.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of American adults have trouble getting a full 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Studies show that getting fewer than seven hours of restful sleep increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes, and in the short-term can lead to impairments in memory, concentration, and your ability to make decisions.
Meditation can help with these issues, and has been proven to improve the quality and efficiency of sleep, and it can even help you to fall asleep faster once your head hits the pillow.
Different types of meditation can work wonders for your self-image, as well as your attitude towards others. One technique called Metta, also known as “loving-kindness” meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts towards yourself. Results from over twenty studies conducted on this form of meditation demonstrate its ability to increase participants’ compassion towards themselves and other people.
The benefits of mindful meditation extend beyond just mental and emotional well-being — it may also help enhance your health and physical performance. Research suggests that stress and negative thought patterns can impact your body’s ability to fight off illness. If practiced regularly, meditation can help improve immune function, reduce blood pressure, and enhance cognition.
The prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that regulates cognitive behavior, personality expression, and decision making, degrades as you age. It is possible, however, to reduce the impact of these age-related changes by routinely engaging in meditation. Doctors have found such practices, if sustained over long periods, may help to reduce the thinning of the prefrontal cortex, which can keep things like memory loss and impaired concentration at bay.
Whether your goal is to mitigate the effects of stress, or to stay sharp as you grow older, making mindful meditation part of your daily routine can greatly improve your quality of life. Getting acquainted with the practice of meditation can be tricky, but there are an abundance of materials and resources available, from guided meditation instructions to meditation music and apps that are great for beginners who want to enjoy the many benefits meditation has to offer.