Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
We live in a distraction-filled world where a good number of us don’t even have a moment of quietness or solitude in an entire day, nor do we make the time.
We find ourselves jumping from one activity to the other, scheduling meetings and appointments in such a way that provides very little or no room for rest or active mindfulness.
It’s like a robotic activity where we are programmed to do the things we do without even taking a moment to think or reflect. Continuing this cycle results in stress, anxiety, and other related disorders. Perhaps we need to understand clearly the term meditation before talking about its benefits.
Wikipedia defines meditation as “a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.”
Overall, meditation is an act that involves taking charge of our mind. You see, everything we experience in life is also experienced by the mind, from the things we know to the things we feel, such as love, anger, pain, joy, etc.
Without the involvement of the mind, we’ll be like machines programmed to run in a certain way. Because our minds are involved in all our daily activities, we need to devote time to knowing and training it so that we know how best to respond and take greater control of our actions when we find ourselves in overwhelming situations. Remember, the inner world creates the external.
Now that we have a better understanding of what meditation is, let’s discuss the 10 psychological benefits of meditation in this blog post.
Meditation reduces stress
When we are stressed, the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies increases, leading to a lot of harmful effects such as disrupting our sleep, promoting depression and anxiety, increasing blood pressure, and contributing to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
In a study of nearly 1,300 adults, I found that meditation decreased stress. As a matter of fact, this effect was strongest in individuals with the highest levels of stress.
When we meditate, the brain and nervous system undergo radical changes that cause the reduction and prevention of these conditions.
Meditation increases emotional stability and intelligence
When our stress level decreases, we return to our natural state where we feel calm, connected to ourselves, and confident to meet the challenges of life.
Our hormones balance out and feel less reactive, less defensive, and better emotionally insulated from the inevitable upsets and irritations we all experience.
This increases the positivity around us, placing a balance between our emotions and intelligence.
Meditation reduces feelings of loneliness
Meditation has been shown to help people live more in the present moment, and less in the painfully remembered past, which often leads to depression.
Meditation helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and when this happens, you are able to take better control of your emotions and desist from self-provoking thoughts that might be responsible for your feelings of loneliness.
A study of 40 senior men and women who took a mindfulness meditation program experienced reduced feelings of loneliness, compared to a control group that had been placed on a waitlist for the program
Meditation controls anxiety
When stress reduces, anxiety and other symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, panic attacks, and the like reduce alongside.
A study followed up with 18 volunteers three years after they had completed an eight-week meditation program discovered that most of the volunteers had continued practicing regular meditation and maintained lower anxiety levels over the long term.
Meditation enhances self-awareness
The more you meditate, the more you are aware of what you like and what you don’t. It gives you a better understanding of yourself, helping you grow into a better version of yourself.
A study of 21 women fighting breast cancer found that when they took part in a tai chi program, their self-esteem improved more than it did in those who received social support sessions.
Meditation increases empathy and compassion
When we meditate regularly, it increases our ability to be able to consider the feelings and needs of others and how we can be of help to them rather than criticizing them.
Meditation improves our sociability
Most of the reasons we do not want to hang out with people most of the time are a result of experiencing feelings like nervousness, anxiety, and feeling down or disorientated in ourselves.
When we meditate, we take time out to think clearly about what is going on inside us and increase our ability to connect with other people.
Meditation improves sleep
Constant meditation results in lower mental activation at bedtime, higher melatonin levels and better sleep.
A JAMA Internal Medicine study included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness-awareness program that taught them meditation and other exercises designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits.
Both groups met six times, once a week, for two hours. At the end of the six sessions, when compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
Meditation can help fight addiction
Meditation helps you achieve mental discipline, which may help you break dependencies on certain things by discovering the emotional cause of it, increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.
For instance, one study found that recovering intravenous drug users felt meditation was one of the best therapy tools to help them overcome their addiction.
Researchers who examined incarcerated substance abusers found that those who were taught how to meditate had lower levels of relapse and more positive outcomes after release than those who received only conventional recovery treatments.
Meditation helps control pain
If you can calm and focus your mind and your body you may be able to control your pain and the degree to which you feel it. Meditation helps you to do this.
For instance, you can practice effective meditation techniques by consciously focusing your attention on the movement of your feet and legs, or on the sensations of your feet stepping one in front of the other when walking.
Be aware of your body as it moves through space. This mindfulness helps you feel your body. The same goes for pain.
In conclusion, meditation offers so many benefits than meets the eyes. You can start by taking 10 minutes daily to meditate and note the overall effect in your life and productivity.