Meditation has been around for centuries as an effective technique to calm the mind and body. Thousands of studies have shown how meditation positively impacts mental and physical health.
From improving sleep and reducing stress to increasing focus, research proves that meditation works. In today’s busy and sometimes frantic lives, taking a moment and turning inward to meditate can deliver a ton of benefits.
As more people discover its benefits, meditation is becoming increasingly popular. A daily meditation habit is powerful and can lead to genuine change. Whether it’s heading to your nearest meditation class or using apps like Headspace and Calm.
Why is Meditation so Popular?
Meditative and mindful techniques come in different forms but serve the same purpose. Both help to manage stress and mental health while raising awareness of one’s own mental and physical health. As concern for mental health has hit an all-new high across the world, many people are turning to meditation.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five Canadians experience a mental illness or addiction problem at any given time during the year. Only half of these people are willing to talk about it to a friend or colleague in comparison to 72% with a cancer diagnosis. Meditation has several real-world applications from the classroom to the workplace.
There are many different types of meditation. The main types are mindfulness meditation and concentrative meditation. With concentrative meditation, the aim is to focus on one thing, whether it’s your breath or a mantra. Mindfulness meditation involves a state of awareness of the present moment and being accepting and open.
Here are five other types of meditation:
- Guided meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Movement meditation
- Spiritual meditation
During meditation, we try to eliminate the mind-clutter. Of course, this is easier said than done, which is why it’s so essential to develop a regular meditative practice. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a clear mind, enhancing your physical and emotional wellbeing.
5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Meditation
Let’s take a look at the benefits of meditation and the research to back it up.
1. Reduce Stress and Anxiety
One of the most common reasons people try meditation is to reduce and manage stress. One study in over 3,500 adults found meditation to be very effective at reducing stress. Researchers found that meditation programs resulted in a small to moderate reduction in multiple areas of psychological stress.
Meditation can help you to gain a new perspective on stressful situations. It can help you develop new coping skills to manage stress and anxiety. An eight-week study found that mindfulness meditation reduced anxiety as well as symptoms of anxiety disorders like panic attacks, social anxiety and paranoid thoughts.
2. Increase Focus
Meditation helps to sharpen the brain by increasing focus and relaxing the mind. Meditative practice can increase your attention span, allowing you to concentrate for longer. One study investigated the effects of an eight-week meditation program. Researchers found that the mindfulness meditation course improved participants’ ability to maintain their attention.
3. Improve Memory
Challenging your thinking and memory skills can help keep your mind young. Meditation helps to improve working memory and your ability to memorize new information. A review of 12 studies found that various meditation styles all helped enhance memory, concentration and mental speed in older participants.
4. Promote Sleep
It’s thought that one in three Canadians don’t get their recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you’re not hitting your recommended dose of sleep, you’re not alone. Data from Sleep Cycle shows that no country in the world sleeps eight hours every night regularly.
Meditation can help to relax your body and release tension. One study found that participants who practiced meditation fell asleep faster and stayed asleep for longer compared to those who didn’t meditate. To help you get a better night’s sleep, try avoiding caffeine after lunchtime and create a bedtime routine.
5. Decrease Blood Pressure
Meditation benefits both mental and physical health. Over time, a regular meditation habit can improve physical health. It can decrease blood pressure by reducing the amount of strain on the heart. Prolonged high blood pressure can contribute to the narrowing of arteries. As a result, this can lead to strokes and heart attacks.
A study of 996 volunteers investigated the effects of meditation using a silent mantra. Participants focused on repeating the mantra in their minds. Researchers reported a decrease in blood pressure by about five points, on average.
How to Create a Daily Meditation Practice
It’s simpler than you might think to start a daily meditation practice and stick to it. We know the benefits of meditation and understand that it can improve our overall wellbeing. But, in between work commitments, errands, and family time, life can get in the way and keeping to a daily meditation practice can be tough. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone!
Meditation can increase focus, improve your health and help to regulate your emotions. Like all positive habits, it takes time and effort to form, but with the right techniques, you can create a practice you’ll love. So, start by carving out some time just for you. Choose a time in the day, whether you have a few spare minutes while drinking your morning coffee or maybe just before bed.
Here are six steps to take to create a calming and relaxing meditation practice:
- Set a Realistic Goal
- Get Comfortable
- Create a Routine
- Be Kind to Yourself
- Perfect your Technique
- Just Breathe
To incorporate meditation into your day, focus on forming positive habits. When creating new patterns, repetition is beneficial. Meditate at the same time each day. If you’re an early riser, then a morning meditation would be ideal for you. When you set a goal, make sure it’s achievable. You might start with a 10-minute meditation every day for a month, then gradually meditate for longer.
Meditation is a relaxation technique; it’s about focusing on being thoughtless. Sometimes mind-chatter can become so loud, and it can be challenging to think. By incorporating a regular meditation practice into your day, you can enhance your physical and mental wellbeing.