Meditation is essentially the process of training your mind to stay present and mindful for a limited period of time. In recent years, the benefits of meditation have become more and more apparent, as multiple valid and reliable studies have been conducted proving the benefits regular meditation has on your overall well-being.
Similar to participating in regular exercise and healthy eating, meditation has been found to display the greatest benefit when it is repeated regularly and consistently over a prolonged period of time.
Committing to a short meditation, even if it is only 10 minutes to begin with, is better than nothing, and will display great benefits over a prolonged period of time.
1. Reduces stress
In this modern society, it is easy to be swept away by a stressful life. That is why one of the most common reasons people begin the practice of regular meditation is to reduce overall stress levels.
Many credible, peer reviewed journal articles have found participating in regular meditation does decrease overall stress levels by helping calm the mind.
When an individual is exposed to stressful situations, they release a hormone called cortisol. When one experiences a high release of cortisol over an extended period of time, this can have dire consequences, such as increased risk of disease and illness.
Similarly, many report having trouble sleeping, experiencing depression or anxiety, increased blood pressure, fatigue, weight loss/gain and much more.
In one particular 8-week study, secondary school teachers were assigned to 45 minute meditation sessions. Secondary school teachers are notorious for experiencing high levels of stress and burnout. After the 8 weeks, the meditation group subjects were found to have significantly reduced their overall stress symptoms when compared with the control group.
This is just one of many studies that show similar results in decreasing ones overall stress levels.
2. Controls anxiety
Meditation has been found to not only decrease overall stress levels, but also decrease anxiety levels.
In one study, 34 adolescents diagnosed with LD participated in a 5-week mindfulness meditation intervention. Individuals with LD have reported experiencing high levels of anxiety. After the 5 weeks, participants experienced a significant reduction in anxiety, which helped increase their overall well-being.
Another study in 47 individuals with chronic pain found that completing an 8-week meditation program displayed significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and pain over 1 year period.
Meditation has also been found to help with job-related anxiety by calming the mind. One study focused on employees using a mindfulness and meditation app for 8 weeks. After the 8 week period, employees reported experiencing higher levels of well-being and decreases distress and increased overall work satisfaction, compared with the control group.
3. Lengthens attention span
Meditation has been found to have many benefits on ones cognition, specifically lengthening ones attention span.
One study focusing on 29 children with ADHD, found after just 4 weeks of participating in 45minute meditation sessions showed a significant increase in attention span.
A similar study showed individuals who participated in regular meditation practices performed better on a visual task and had a greater attention span than those without any meditation experience.
This is just two of many studies finding similar results. Thus, meditation has been shown to increase ones overall attention span.
Now that we know some key benefits of regular meditation, what are the steps to begin my practice of meditation?
1) Take a seat
Find a comfortable place to sit that feels calm and quiet
2) Set a time limit
If you are starting out, it helps to set an alarm, such as 10 or 15 minutes. If there is an alarm set, it is easier to resist the urge to check the time halfway through your meditation practice.
3) Be aware of your body and focus on your breath
Either find a comfortable chair or sit on the ground with your legs folded. Take a deep breath in and out. Focus on the inhalation, and focus on the slow exhalation. Maybe count to 5 as you inhale, and as you exhale count to 5. Pause for 5 seconds before inhaling again. Focus on your body, if there is any tension. Focus on using your breath to release any tension you may be experiencing.
4) Notice when your mind is wondering, and bring it back to the breath
Your mind is bound to wonder, and this okay. If you notice your mind wondering, just simply bring it back to the breath. Count 5 seconds as you breathe in, 5 seconds as you breathe out and hold for 5 seconds before starting again with your inhale. Do not judge yourself, or be harsh on yourself. Simply just come back to your breath.
5) Close with kindness
When your time is up, gently open your eyes. Take a moment to listen to any sounds around you, feel the air as it brushes against tour skin. Notice if there are in smells in the air. Take a moment and just be present in this moment. Place your hand over your heart and feel love. Simply sit in that until you are ready to continue with your day 😊
Remember the most important thing is to simply continue to show up. Each and every day, just show up and notice how your life will begin to change for the better.
Don’t for get to check out our meditation cushions to get started today!