Many people are interested in meditation, often called mindfulness meditation, but aren’t sure of the mental health benefits or whether it’s worth trying to find the time to set aside each day to try it.
Before discussing the many mental health benefits of meditation, let’s talk a bit about what meditation actually is and how we can start to practice it now.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is the process of training the mind to be present and relaxed. It can be achieved by focusing on something, such as a mantra or breathing. A meditation practice might also incorporate visualization, yoga or guidance from an experienced practitioner.
The point is that it’s the kind of mental activity where you try to focus your attention only on one thing (in this case, your breathing or a mantra), while ignoring all the other thoughts that come to you during the day. By doing this exercise frequently we get better at it and our minds will naturally become more relaxed. This kind of relaxation can be beneficial on its own.
Mental health meditation benefits:
There are many health benefits of meditation practices on our mental and physical health including lowering stress, reducing chronic pain, improving mind body awareness, increased emotional regulation, improving the ability to focus, improving overall health, , and lower anxiety and depression.
Let’s look at the top 5 benefits of meditation:
- Mindfulness based stress reduction – With today’s current events, it is no wonder that there is so much stress going around. Meditation teaches reduces stress by training our minds to be relaxed and focused so we can improve the quality of our lives, reduce anxiety and depression, and lower blood pressure.
- Increased self awareness – Meditation can help us understand ourselves better and become more aware of our thoughts, emotions and surroundings.
- Improved relationships – Through meditation and improving our self awareness, we can create better relationships with others and realize our own strengths and weaknesses.
- Improved concentration – Meditation has been proven to improve people’s concentration span, a skill that comes in handy at work or while studying.
- Boosting happiness – Meditation helps you feel happier. By paying attention to the present moment, you are not worrying about the past or the future.
How to start meditating?
Would you like to give meditation a try? There are several easy ways you can start practicing meditation and mindfulness without the help of an instructor:
If you want to try practicing meditation, then meditation cab be as simple as sitting in a quiet place and focusing on your breathing.
Breathing – In this form of meditation, you sit comfortably and focus your attention only on your breathing while eliminating distractions. This is often done in conjunction with mentally saying a calming word or phrase. You should inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Visualization – Instead of focusing on breathing try to visualize a peaceful place where all your troubles seem to disappear from view. By doing this exercise frequently we can learn how to calm our minds and feel more focused during stressful situations. So there are plenty of benefits associated with meditation so if you’re looking for some way to relax and grow as a person then why not give it a try?
Helpful meditation programs
If you’re not sure where to start, there are some wonderful meditations apps available. I recommend:
Meditation often does not come naturally, so don’t give up if your mind continues to wander at first. Continue to practice meditation each day and you will find a better place within yourself as well as around those you love.
Types of meditation
The benefits of meditation depend on the type of meditation that you choose to practice. There are many different types, and some will suit your personality better than others.
Guided meditation: Guided meditations consist of a recording where an experienced practitioner gives instructions about how to focus one’s mind.
Mantra meditation: A mantra is a word or phrase that you choose and repeat to yourself while meditating.
Mindfulness meditation: In this type of meditation, the practitioner focuses on being aware of their own thoughts and surroundings at the present moment. I recommend reading The Mindful Way Through Depression by Mark Williams and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Transcendental meditation: In this type of meditation, practitioners repeat a mantra to themselves while sitting in silence for fifteen to twenty minutes and then gradually lengthening the repetition of the mantra to about an hour. It is said that by doing so, you can get in touch with your higher self and experience yourself as part of a greater whole.
Loving kindness meditation: Fosters compassion and unconditional love towards oneself and others.
If you’d like to learn more about the different type of meditation, I suggest checking out the book titled Meditation For Beginners: How To Meditate And Learn Mindfulness Techniques To Improve Your Health And Wellbeing by Robert Drysdale and Mark Hart.
The benefits of meditation have been known for centuries, but today’s busy lifestyle often keeps us from achieving the peace and relaxation that comes with it. Meditation can be done in a short amount of time and should be done regularly to get the full benefits such as increased self awareness, reduced stress levels, and enhanced relationships. By starting a meditative practice, you can change the way you deal with stress and ultimately gain a better understanding of yourself.