Meditation is an ancient practice that has been around for hundreds of years, but in the years of social media it has been popularized worldwide. Many wellness influencers and bloggers have touted meditation as their key for reducing stress, but meditation has many other benefits.
According to Psychology Today, “the word meditation stems from meditatum, a Latin term that means ‘to ponder.’ Through the practice of meditation, we can seek to find a better connection with our body in the everyday moments that we often let pass us by, and create stronger awareness for how our emotions influence our behavior.” If you’re interested in meditation, but want to know more about the benefits, read on.
There are so many reasons to start incorporating meditation into your daily routine. But the hardest part of starting a meditation practice is the actually getting started. The most frequent complaints about starting a meditation practice are time constraints and people being generally unsure if they’re doing it correctly. When people get frustrated that they’re not “doing it right”, they’re likely to give up before they’ve even gotten started. But meditation doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming to make it work. In fact, it’s super easy to begin what could become a lifelong practice.
Some days it’s easier to meditate than others. The irony is that the days that you need meditation the most, on your most stressful days, will often be the ones where it is hardest to do. Im suggests not being too hard on yourself if you have an “off” day. “Stick with it and don’t judge when it’s good or bad,” Im says. “Every sit, every day, is different.” If you have a day where, try as you might, you just can’t focus on your breathing, then save your energy for the next day.
The benefits of meditation beyond stress relief:
- Calms anxiety
- Promotes emotional wellbeing
- Lengthens attention span
- Improves sleep
- Helps control pain
Meditation allows you to focus deeply and creates the mental space to process difficult feelings in a healthy way. Most meditation also includes deep, parasympathetic breaths which are proven to reduce heart rate and anxiety.
Promotes emotional wellbeing
Meditation also reduces the inflammation of chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines are vital for the human body, but when they become inflamed they can interfere with brain health. This can increase fear and anxiety. So reduction of inflammatory cytokines gives you a more sunny disposition.
Lengthens attention span
Your meditation practice increases the strength and endurance of your attention span, like a workout for you mind! According to researchers at Harvard University our minds are lost in thought 47 percent of the time. Meditation reduces the lost in thought process and allows you to clear your mind.
Meditation also helps to improve sleep because it promotes an overall sense of relaxation. This allows you to catch the zzz’s you need to stay on top of your game. Struggling with meditation before sleep? Try downloading a sleep meditation playlist on YouTube or an app.
Helps control pain
It changes your perception of physical pain, like post-workout soreness. Meditation helps release endorphins which are natural pain relievers! According to lifestyle medical expert Jane Ehrman, MEd., uscles and tissues around your joints are more relaxed, and your brain can be in a calmer state so you’ll feel less pain.