The Benefits of Meditation – 5 Ways Meditation Improves Your Life
Now, more than ever, it is important for you to preserve your mental health, and one way to do that, is to understand the benefits of meditation and start incorporating it into your life. Meditation is one of the easiest, most effective ways to relieve stress, improve focus, and change the way you think about yourself and situations. Life is very unpredictable right now. There are so many things outside of our control, that it’s easy to get swept up in the madness. Meditation helps combat that.
The History of Meditation
The exact history of meditation is hard to pinpoint. There are several different religious and cultural influences to modern day meditation. Indian, Chinese, Buddhists, and Vendatism all have ancient writings and drawings of monks who realized early, the benefits of meditation.
These writings were translated to European languages as travelers and philosophers traveled to Asia and brought their teachings back. Over the years, meditation has evolved and transformed. However, one thing that hasn’t wavered, are the mental and physiological benefits to meditation.
Meditation is a type of mental training that teaches the brain how to tune out everything else and focus on the present moment. It’s a simple exercise, but very difficult to master, especially with the world of distractions that we currently live in.
However, with a few minutes of practice everyday, you don’t have to be a monk to feel the benefits of meditation. Without you knowing, it will creep into your everyday life. Below, are five of the many benefits of meditation.
1. Meditation improves focus
Do you find it hard to stay on task? How about at work, when you’re supposed to be doing something specific, then find yourself scrolling on Twitter? According to a Harvard study, our minds are lost 47% of the time. Normally we are either anxious about the future, worried about the past, or just bored with our current task. It’s like when you’re reading a book, and before you know it, five paragraphs have gone by and you have no idea what you just read. Then you have to go back and reread what you just read over again, wasting time.
Meditation trains your mind so this doesn’t happen to you as often. There is so much going on in the world, that it’s hard to not think about a million things at once. However, when we do that, then we tend to miss out on what’s happening right in front of us. We’re so busy living in different times of our lives, that we miss the present moment.
One study by Giuseppe Pagnoni showed that there’s a part of our brain, called that ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC) that controls wild and spontaneous thoughts. It’s like an app running in the background, always active. But those who practiced meditation showed better abilities to control it.
During meditation, you focus on the present moment. What exactly you focus on depends on the type of meditation you decide to practice. However, meditation always includes tuning out distractions and training your mind to focus on one thing. The more you do this, the easier it will be to incorporate that into your everyday life.
2. Meditation Can Prevent Age-Related Decline
It’s a fact of life: The older we get, the older our brains get. Tissues deteriorate, memories fade, and our working memory slow down. However, meditation can help prevent this.
The brain is a muscle. So if you don’t exercise it, you eventually start to lose tissue and connections. Just like if you don’t do pushups or squats everyday, your arms and legs get smaller. Use it or lose it is the reason that you start forgetting how to do things that you used to be a wiz at when you were younger. But if you keep those brain regions in use, then they will maintain their connections and tissue density, perhaps even strengthening them.
Meditation keeps these brain regions in use. In fact, a study done at UC Berkley showed that the more one meditated, the larger and stronger those specific brain regions were. Parts of the brain used for focus, like the frontal lobe, are exercised during meditative practices. As it improves, not only does focus improve, but so do all the other functions that the frontal lobe is responsible for. Planning, decision making, and executive functioning are all controlled by the frontal lobe. So regardless of your age, the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.
3. Meditation Boosts Confidence
According to Mindworks, there are two different types of confidence: ordinary and genuine. Ordinary confidence comes from our position in relation to other people or a situation. You may feel this way after getting your hair done, wearing a new pair of shoes, or feeling like the richest one in the world.
However, genuine confidence is deeper and not so superficial. You feel genuinely confident regardless of what’s going on in your life. This is the hardest to build because we are always bombarded with ways we need to improve our lives. You can’t even watch TV without feeling like you need to order something to lose weight or defy aging. So this is the confidence that we need help with and that meditation can imrpove.
When you meditate, there is an emphasis on not judging yourself. While you are focused on breathing, your mind may wander. If it does, you are to bring it back to the present moment without judging yourself. Acknowledge your mind wandered because you are human, and focus your attention back on your breath.
While you do that, you practice this calm when it comes to acknowledging your mistakes. You learn to live with your flaws and feel this sense of wellbeing with who you are. This relief feels so good, that the more you meditate, the more you will seek that positive feeling. Meditation helps you accept your flaws so you feel more at peace with who you are, slowly but surely building up your genuine confidence.
4. Meditation reduces stress
This is probably the most widely known benefit of meditation. Stress is a natural part of life, however, if you don’t know how to deal with it, you can succumb to its pressures. An overhaul of stress leads to fatigue, burnout, stress, and/or anxiety. And those just a few consequences of many! It’s essential you find a way to offload your stress, and move on with what you can control.
Meditation can do just that. The biggest benefit of meditation is being able to do it just about anywhere. So, regardless of where you become stressed, you can always become de-stressed. As mentioned before, meditation is an exercise where you practice staying in the moment. Stress is a culmination of worrying about the future and past. When you practice being able to stay in the moment, you improve at letting go the things you cannot control. You accept the past, and acknowledge the future is unknown and you just have to take it in stride.
There is this instant sense of relief after meditation which may allow you to see your stressful situation from a new perspective. Taking a moment to step out of your stress can lower how stressed you feel about it. It’s amazing how blinding stress can actually be. Meditation takes the blinders off and helps you focus on what’s next.
5. It’s free!
Who doesn’t love free medicine? Healthcare is so expensive that anything you can find that helps you but doesn’t break the bank is a Godsend. Meditation offers lots of mental and physical benefits that cost a fortune in time and money at doctor’s offices. Although meditation can’t cure everything, there are so many different types of meditations that you can find the right one for you and do it whenever you want. Also, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take a long time. Just a few short minutes everyday, and you can start to reap the benefits of meditation.
Hello, my name is Darian Dozier and I am the owner of Melanated and Meducated. I am a first year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine student and hope to provide health information and premed resources for aspiring physicians. I include recipes, workouts, coping skills and devotionals on my blog and hope to make every visitor feel a little better, or laugh a little more, by the time they leave.