So before getting into three of the countless benefits one stands to gain from practicing meditation, let us first get a quick glimpse of what meditation actually is in the first place.
Meditation is basically a practice that is intended to train your mind and overall awareness to focus and re-direct your inner thoughts in an effort to realize a state of mental clarity and emotional calmness.
It is as such, of little surprise that such a practice has rapidly gained so much popularity worldwide throughout the past few years during which the overall level of stress has been steadily rising (for a variety of reasons including global warming concerns, COV-19 Pandemic, financial crises just to name a few).
People have been understandably searching for ways to cope with the rising levels of stress they suddenly found themselves dealing with and meditation was (and continues to be) one of the popular solutions.
Having said that, escape from stress is not the only reason people meditate but it is one of the bigger motivators.
Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets dive deeper into the benefits.
Reduction of Stress
We naturally had to start with one the most popular reasons why most people considered meditation in the first place. One of the various effects of stress is the production of stress hormone “Cortisol” which in turn triggers other effects such as anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep disruption and possibly depression. It additionally also causes the release of inflammatory chemicals called “Cytokines” inside our body.
An 8-week study however associated with a specific type of meditation called “Mindfulness meditation” has shown that this meditation technique has significantly reduced symptoms of stress related conditions.
Well, this is really a by-product of the earlier factor we just discussed, less stress will automatically mean less anxiety.
A study has shown that 8 weeks of “Mindfulness Meditation” helped in reducing anxiety symptoms of individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.
Another study was conducted on 47 people and showed that upon completion of an 8-week meditation program, resulted in very significant improvements in a year long’s worth of stress and anxiety symptoms.
This was apparent in the popularity of this type of meditation among employees, especially those associated with high stress jobs in an effort to cope with work induced stress.
While most of the talk about meditation seems to mainly focus on the end state that it is supposed to lead to, we must equally focus on the discipline that meditation teaches you along the journey towards that final state of calmness.
Meditation is after all, heavily focused on training your mind to control your thoughts. A practice that is actually much harder than it seems, at least at first. It takes a great deal of mental discipline and fortitude to achieve this level of control, but it is a goal one can achieve through consistent practice of meditation.
As such, the build-up of such discipline helps individuals manage emotions and impulses. A study has actually shown that 60 individuals suffering from Alcohol use disorder have experienced lower levels of stress, psychological distress and alcohol craving after 3 months of practicing a type of meditation called “Transcendental Meditation”.
Meditation is a natural booster of mental health and therefore it would never hurt to give it a try. There are also so several types of meditation, many of which might be quite compatible with your specific condition and/or goal and so, it is certainly worth researching further.
Practicing meditation even for a few minutes per day should still have a generally positive impact on your life and so, it would be worthwhile to try and squeeze it into your schedule no matter how busy.