Meditation might seem easy, but it actually requires practice and discipline. Some people find it hard because they ‘can’t stop thinking’ or the ‘can’t stay still for that long’ but you know what? I had all of those excuses too. Trust me, it’s definitely worth investing your time on. The amount of people that ask me how I am so calm is nearly a daily occurrence and I can honestly attribute it to over a decade of meditation and yoga. I know it’s not that easy to become consistent with meditation but I am encouraging you to lean into your resistance and explore the depths of your comfort zone as you acclimatise to a meditation practice – whatever that looks like – because it will all be worth it, I promise! Sometimes I meditate for 5 minutes and sometimes I can go for an hour and sometimes I miss a day or two, and let me tell you, those days always end up more overwhelming. You see, finding a sense of calm from your busy mind can bring you incredible benefits.
You can practice meditation on your own, with a group of people, or as part of mindfulness-based therapy. It’s all about training your attention and being more present in the moment. By doing so, you can find peace and savour positive emotions. You can start by listening to short meditations on Youtube or Spotify. I can recommend Diaphragmatic Breathing meditations as a great starting point if you’re trying out meditation for the first time!
Now, meditation has been around for thousands of years. There are reasons why this activity is still relevant today. Here are 9 of my fave health improvements you can expect from practicing meditation.
1. Helping with Anxiety and Depression and overall Psychological Wellbeing
Meditation is truly amazing when it comes to helping us with anxiety and depression. It’s like this natural, accessible tool that can do wonders for our mental well-being. When we practice meditation, we actually develop awesome skills in mindfulness and self-awareness. And let me tell you, these skills are super helpful.
They allow us to observe and understand our thoughts and emotions in a more objective way. Instead of getting caught up with anxious or depressive thoughts, we learn to take a step back and gain a new perspective. It’s all about creating some distance from those thoughts and reducing their intensity. Think of it this way – our thoughts are like clouds, they arrive, they may be dark or light and then we just watch them pass by. Pretty cool, right?
Meditation also helps us relax and activates something called the parasympathetic nervous system. Now, this triggers a whole bunch of physical responses in our bodies that counteract the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s like a natural antidote!
When we regularly practice meditation, something really interesting happens. Our levels of stress hormones go down, our mood becomes more regulated, and our brain starts producing more of those neurotransmitters that make us feel good, like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These little guys are all about positive emotions and emotional stability.
And guess what? Over time, all these changes in our brain and body lead to a reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms. We get better at handling our emotions, regulating them like pros. It’s like an overall upgrade in our mental well-being.
Meditation also encourages us to have a positive outlook. We start to develop a compassionate and non-judgmental attitude towards ourselves and others. This shift in mindset has a ripple effect. Our relationships become healthier, our empathy grows, and we start feeling this deep sense of interconnectedness with the world around us. It’s like we’re all in this together.
Meditation helps us embrace self-acceptance and self-compassion. These are like super important ingredients for our psychological well-being. By being kind to ourselves and accepting who we are, we create a solid foundation for happiness and contentment.
So, if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, or just need a bit of a boost in your mental wellbeing, meditation could be a fantastic addition to your toolbox. It’s a natural and accessible approach that can really make a difference in your life.
2. Managing Stress Levels
Meditation is a very accessible practice that has the power to melt away stress and boost our well-being. It’s like finding a secret path to inner calm and serenity, exactly what we need when the pressures of life start piling up.
When we make meditation a regular part of our lives, we start to develop our skills on focused attention and mindful awareness. It’s like we become these keen observers of our own thoughts and emotions, without judging them. And let me tell you, that creates this amazing space in our minds where everything becomes clear and balanced.
This space allows us to step back from all those stress-inducing thoughts and triggers. Instead of reacting to them in a negative way, we gain the ability to respond with a calm and resilient attitude. It’s like we become stress-fighting superheroes!
Meditation also does wonders for our bodies. It actually activates something called the relaxation response, which is the exact opposite of the stress response. This means that all those pesky stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline take a back seat, while feel-good chemicals like endorphins come out to play. It’s like a biochemical shift that brings us all these positive effects.
Our heart rate goes down, our blood pressure decreases, and those tense muscles start to loosen up. It’s like our whole body is going, “Ahh, that’s better!”
When we stick with consistent meditation practice, it’s like our brain gets rewired for the better. We become experts at regulating our emotions and finding that sense of overall well-being we all crave. It’s like we’re giving ourselves a major upgrade.
So, if you want to proactively manage stress and find more peace and balance in your life, incorporating meditation into your daily routine is definitely worth a try. It’s a powerful tool that can make a real difference.
3. Heightened empathy and cooperativeness
Meditation has this amazing power to boost our empathy and help us connect with others on a deeper level. It’s like this secret ingredient that enhances our understanding and compassion.
When we practice mindfulness meditation, we’re learning to be fully present in the here and now. And you know what happens when we’re present? We naturally become more attentive to what others are going through. It’s like our empathy radar gets turned up a notch.
As we focus on our breath and the sensations in our bodies, we become more aware of our own emotions, which then allows us to recognise and regulate them. It’s like we’re tuning into our own emotional state, and that serves as a solid foundation for developing empathy.
There are specific meditation practices, like loving-kindness meditation, that are designed to cultivate compassion and empathy. With these practices, we intentionally direct kind and loving thoughts towards ourselves and others. It’s all about creating this sense of warmth, care, and understanding that extends way beyond our immediate circle. We’re talking about extending that love and compassion to all living beings.
This practice of extending benevolence towards all beings creates this sense of interconnectedness. It’s like we start to realise that we’re all in this together, sharing this common humanity. It’s a game-changer when it comes to cooperation.
The more we keep up with our meditation practice, the more our capacity for empathy expands. It’s like we’re stretching our empathy muscles, making them stronger and more flexible.
So, if you want to foster harmonious relationships and feel a greater sense of connection with those around you, meditation is the way to go. It’s like a superpower that can bring more empathy and understanding into your life.
4. Improved interoceptive awareness
As mentioned earlier, meditation helps us become more aware of our own bodies, specifically the internal sensations we feel. It’s like a superpower called interoceptive awareness.
When we practice mindfulness meditation, we’re learning to pay attention to what’s happening inside our bodies. We tune in to things like our heartbeat, our breath, and even those subtle physical changes that we might not normally notice. And the best part? We do it without judging or getting attached to those sensations.
This heightened awareness of our bodies is amazing because it helps us understand ourselves on a deeper level. We start to really get a sense of our physiological and emotional states. It’s like we become experts in knowing what’s going on inside us.
And you know what’s even more awesome? Regularly tuning into these bodily sensations during meditation allows us to be more in tune with our own needs. We can recognise the early signs of stress, tension, or discomfort. It’s like we’re giving ourselves an early warning system!
This self-awareness is a game-changer because it gives us the opportunity to respond proactively. We can make choices that support our well-being, whether it’s taking a break, practicing self-care, or seeking help when needed. It’s all about taking charge of our own health and happiness.
Improved interoceptive awareness through meditation also has a positive impact on our emotional regulation. We become more attuned to those subtle shifts in our emotions. And when we notice those shifts, we can respond with clarity and equanimity. It’s like we become emotional superheroes, handling our feelings like pros.
Interoceptive awareness connects our mind and body in a profound way, promoting our overall well-being. It’s like we’re building this incredible relationship with ourselves, and that’s something truly special.
5. Slowing of brain aging
Meditation has some really cool potential benefits when it comes to slowing down the aging process of our brains. It’s like a fountain of youth for our minds.
Research shows that a regular meditation practice can actually make a positive impact on the structure and function of our brains. It’s like giving our cognitive abilities a boost and reducing the risk of age-related decline. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
When we engage in meditation, certain regions of our brains involved in attention, memory, and emotional regulation become thicker and more connected. It’s like we’re upgrading our brain power through meditation.
Meditation also promotes something called neuroplasticity. Fancy word, I know. But all it means is that our brains can reorganise themselves and form new connections. And that’s super important for keeping our cognitive abilities sharp as we age.
And here’s something really interesting. As we already know, certain meditation practices can help us manage stress. And you know what stress does? It ages our brains faster. So, by reducing stress levels and the release of those stress-related hormones, meditation becomes our brain’s best friend. It’s like a shield protecting our brains from the harmful effects of chronic stress.
So, when we incorporate meditation into our routine, we’re actually giving our brains a fighting chance against aging. We’re supporting our cognitive functioning and preserving our mental sharpness as the years go by. It’s like we’re saying, “Hey brain, let’s stay young and vibrant together!”
So, if you want to keep your brain in tip-top shape as you age, give meditation a try. It’s an incredible gift you can give yourself. Keep your mind youthful and sharp for many years to come.
6. Improved attention
You won’t believe what meditation can do for your attention! It’s like a superpower that enhances your ability to focus and concentrate.
So, here’s the deal, as we have mentioned earlier above, with meditation, you’ll eventually learn to be aware of the present moment without judging it. You pay attention to your thoughts, sensations, and everything happening around you. And you know what that does? It helps you notice when your mind starts to wander and gently brings it back to the present. It’s like a workout for your attention.
By consistently training your mind in this way, meditation strengthens your attention “muscle.” It’s like going to the gym but for your mind. You become better at sustaining your focus for longer periods of time.
Meditation also enhances selective attention. That means you become really good at filtering out distractions and prioritising what’s important. It’s like having this superpower to zoom in on the task at hand and ignore all the noise around you.
This improved attentional control doesn’t just stay on the meditation cushion. It spills over into other areas of your life. Imagine acing your exams or being super productive at work. With better attention, you make better decisions and perform at your best.
By practicing meditation regularly, you develop this heightened and sustained attentional capacity. It’s like having a laser focus that boosts your productivity and overall cognitive performance. It’s pretty incredible what a little meditation can do for your attention.
So, if you want to level up your focus and concentration, give meditation a shot. It’s a mental workout that strengthens your attention and unlocks your full potential. Get ready to be in the zone and accomplish amazing things!
7. Better problem-solving
Meditation also can level up your problem-solving skills! It’s like having a secret weapon for tackling challenges with clarity, focus, and creativity.
When you observe your thoughts and emotions without getting all caught up in them, like watching them from a distance, you’ll eventually develop a non-reactive mindset, and you can approach problem-solving with a fresh perspective. You’re able to explore different angles and consider various points of view. It’s like your mind becomes this hub of creativity, generating innovative solutions.
Meditation also changes your cognitive abilities, like attention and working memory. These are the essential skills you need for effective problem-solving. With your improved attention and with enhanced working memory, you can hold and manipulate information in your mind, making connections that others might miss.
And here’s the cherry on top. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, which can cloud your thinking and hinder problem-solving. By managing stress levels, you can approach problem-solving tasks with a clear head and laser-sharp focus.
So, all in all, meditation gives you a solid foundation for better problem-solving. It promotes self-awareness, sharpens your cognitive functions, reduces stress, and opens your mind to new possibilities. It’s like having a toolbox filled with everything you need to tackle any problem that comes your way.
If you want to level up your problem-solving skills, give meditation a try. It’s like unlocking your hidden potential and becoming a problem-solving ninja. Get ready to conquer challenges with ease and come up with creative solutions that blow everyone’s mind!
8. Strengthened immune function
Did you know? Meditation can actually boost your immune system and help you stay healthier!
Regular meditation practice has been shown to have a positive impact on your immune function, which is your body’s defence system against illnesses. When we’re stressed or anxious, our immune system can become weaker, making us more susceptible to getting sick. But meditation comes to the rescue!
By practicing meditation, your stress levels are managed, and the relaxation response is activated. It’s like flipping a switch that calms everything down. When you’re in this relaxed state, your body produces fewer stress hormones and inflammatory markers, while boosting the activity of natural killer cells.
These natural killer cells are like the champions of your immune system. They’re responsible for hunting down and destroying harmful invaders in your body. And guess what? Meditation gives them a power-up, making them even more effective at fighting off pathogens and keeping you healthy.
Having mental and emotional balance as a result of meditation greatly influences your immune function. It’s like your immune system gets a boost of positivity and resilience.
By reducing stress, supporting your emotional well-being, and enhancing your overall resilience, meditation strengthens your immune system. It’s like having an army of defenders that keep you in tip-top shape and ready to take on any challenges that come your way.
So, if you want to give your immune system a boost and stay healthier, give meditation a try. It’s like giving your body an extra layer of protection and keeping those pesky illnesses at bay. Get ready to feel stronger, healthier, and more resilient than ever!
9. Decrease Chronic Pain
Meditation can be a game-changer when it comes to managing chronic pain! It’s like having a secret weapon to alleviate your discomfort and take control of your wellbeing.
Here’s the deal: Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation, equips you with effective tools to handle and ease your pain. Instead of fighting against it or getting caught up in negative thoughts about it, meditation teaches you to observe your pain sensations without judgment or resistance. It’s all about accepting and embracing the present moment, pain included.
By developing this present-moment awareness of your pain, you can change the way you relate to it. You start to loosen its grip on your mind, and the psychological suffering that often accompanies chronic pain begins to fade away. It’s like finding a new perspective that allows you to reclaim some control over your pain.
When you also trigger the relaxation response in your body while meditating, this will help to reduce muscle tension and lower the intensity of your pain. It’s like giving your body a well-deserved break from the constant ache.
Research has shown that regular meditation practice can actually create changes in your brain that affect how you perceive pain. It’s like rewiring your brain to turn down the volume on those pain signals. By managing stress levels and fostering a mindful perspective, meditation empowers you to better cope with chronic pain and reclaim your quality of life.
If you’re tired of letting chronic pain control your life, give meditation a try. It’s like having a powerful ally by your side, helping you manage and alleviate your discomfort. Get ready to find a new sense of peace, control, and well-being as you navigate your journey toward pain relief.
Meditation is a transformative practice that benefits our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. It reduces anxiety and depression by calming negative thoughts and activating relaxation responses. It manages stress by improving attention and engaging the body’s relaxation system. Meditation enhances empathy and connection with others, improves emotional regulation, and fosters self-compassion. It also protects the brain, enhances cognitive abilities, improves attention and concentration, and promotes problem-solving skills. By incorporating meditation into our daily lives, we can experience the profound benefits it brings to our overall well-being and find peace and connection within ourselves and with others.
So, when it comes to meditation, the first thing you want to do is take a nice, gentle breath in through your nose. Just breathe in slowly, taking your time. And as you do that, count in your head: one, two, three, four… Then, take a pause and exhale. Again, counting: one, two, three four… Follow that pattern for 5-10 breaths and experience a mini meditation right now.