Stress is a natural part of life. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to help us survive. But it shouldn’t take over your life in a way that leaves you exhausted, anxious, or drained.
Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of people across the globe. In such a fast-paced, stimulating, and apocalyptic-feeling world, regulating stress levels can be a constant struggle. But the good news is, there are ways to alleviate it. And one of them is meditation.
Meditation has been practiced across various cultures since 1500 BC, making it one of the most ancient methods for achieving mental and physical wellness.
Read on to explore the many notable benefits of meditation as a stress reliever and learn how to practice it. Once you know how to meditate, this relaxing ritual can help you improve your mental and physical wellness and better cope with some of life’s stress.
6 Benefits Of Meditation
Simply put, meditation is the art of being mindful. Although there are many different forms of meditation worth trying, the most common one involves sitting down, closing your eyes, and engaging in deep breathwork for a set amount of time.
This wonderfully simple practice can produce many positive health benefits for the body and mind. Some of the most notable ones include:
1. Decreases stress and anxiety
One of the top benefits of meditation is how it can help us feel more relaxed and less stressed. Studies show that people who meditate regularly may be up to 31% less stressed than those who do not.
Mindfulness exercises combined with deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers the body’s relaxation response. Parasympathetic nervous system activation helps mental and physical wellness by allowing the body and mind to achieve a calmer, more grounded state of being.
(Check out these simple breathing techniques for relaxation).
2. Promotes better sleep health
Regular meditation can promote better quality sleep. By activating your parasympathetic nervous system, your body’s internal clock can return to a more stabilized state, thus helping combat insomnia and poor sleep health.
Meditating in the evenings before sleeping is a great way to wind down before bed. But even meditating in the morning can set a restful tone for the remainder of your day.
3. Increases self-awareness
Another great benefit of meditation is that it can enhance your self-awareness. By sitting in peace and solitude for just a few minutes a day, you can develop a more intimate relationship with yourself and contemplate the inner workings of your mind.
The more you understand about yourself, the easier it will be to create a life that is meaningful to you as an individual. A meaningful life allows you to truly embrace what makes you happy and let go of the toxic parts of your life that you may not have noticed. A little bit of quiet time thinking about who and what affects you can do wonders for your self-awareness in every sphere of life.
4. Supports heart health
Part of the reason meditation can be so relaxing is that it can physically support your heart’s health. Studies show that meditation can help to reduce anxiety, depression, and moodiness. Through the parasympathetic nervous activation that occurs during meditation, your body can naturally lower its heart rate, regulate blood pressure, and reduce the production of harmful hormones.
While meditation is certainly no replacement for medication or cardio exercise, it certainly benefits your mental and physical wellness. Its positive effects make it ideal as a supportive tool for maintaining a happy, healthy heart.
5. Enhanced creativity and imagination
Another, perhaps somewhat surprising, benefit of meditation is that it can boost creativity. Taking a few moments to sit down and reflect on your inner world can give rise to some interesting mental visuals and ideas, stoking the fires of inspiration.
Some people even find they like to journal or engage in creative play after meditating to harness the motivation that occurs during mindfulness.
6. Improves overall outlook
It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity, especially when there’s so much doom, gloom, and pressure to meet specific standards. However, meditation can help you improve your overall outlook on life by giving you time to reflect on the good things—not just in the world around you but in yourself, too.
Finding the positives in every part of your life can improve your self-image and outlook. It can also help you be more mindful of negativity so you don’t go down the rabbit hole of doom or self-depreciation.
Now that you understand the main benefits of meditation, let’s cover the basics of how to meditate.
How To Meditate – Anywhere, Anytime
One of the best things about meditation as a tool for improving mental and physical wellness is that you can do it just about anywhere. It also doesn’t require any special equipment or experience in order to reap the benefits.
- Find a comfortable, quiet spot – You first need to find a distraction-free space to meditate in. It can be anywhere you like, as long as you can sit there comfortably without being distracted by people or noises.
- Set a timer – It helps to set a timer so you know how long you’ve been meditating. It adds structure to the experience. Start off with shorter stints, such as 10-15 minutes, and work your way up over time. Just ensure that your timer alarm is not an abrasive one, opt for gentle birdsong or soft music rather than the loud beeping of an alarm clock. You want to ease yourself back gently.
- Acknowledge the present moment – Close your eyes, sit comfortably, and be present with your mind and body. Allow yourself to really feel your body taking up space, acknowledge any aches or pains you may have, and get comfortable. Accept that this is your time for yourself.
- Engage in breathwork – There are a few variations of breathwork you can experiment with. Try out a few to see which one works best for you. Alternatively, you can just inhale for 4 seconds, pause, and then exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat until the timer goes off.
- Resist wandering thoughts – One of the most challenging things about meditation is pulling your focus back to the moment. Instead of chastising yourself for getting distracted, try to observe your thoughts as clouds that drift past.
- Be consistent – Mindfulness and meditation work best when practiced consistently. Commit to meditating every day or every few days until you experience results. Then, stick to your newly formed habit.
Similar to exercise, there are many different ways you can approach meditation to enhance your mental and physical wellness. You can expand and customize your meditation sessions by trying out visualization, guided meditations, or repeating personal affirmations. You could even try an immersive meditation experience by joining a Vipassana meditation course.
Use Meditation As A Tool For Improving Your Mental And Physical Wellness
In this crazy world, we all need me-time, and having some de-stressing, health-boosting tools in your back pocket is essential. Regardless of how stressed you feel or what the state of your health is, finding ways to connect with your body and manage complex emotions will always be beneficial.
Meditation is an excellent practice for living in the present, developing stress-management skills, regulating heart rate, and enhancing mental agility.
You don’t need to be a meditation pro to reap the rewards of mindfulness. All you need is a quiet space, consistency of practice, and a desire to lead a more balanced life. With the tips and benefits laid out here, anyone can improve their mental and physical wellness, one breath at a time.
Is meditation a regular part of your life? Do you have any questions or comments about meditation? If so, please join the conversation below!