Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine that can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider meditating.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. It can help carry you more calmly through your day and may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.
Following are a few benefits of mindful meditation.
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation. Mindful meditation can lower the levels of cortisol — the stress hormone — which helps one feel more relaxed.
Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
Manages anxiety or depression
Meditation can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety. It helps train your mind to focus on the present, making you less likely to ruminate on anxious thoughts that can fuel depression.
Some research suggests that a variety of mindfulness and meditation exercises may reduce anxiety levels. For example, yoga has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. This is likely due to benefits from both meditative practice and physical activity.
Better focus and concentration
Meditation helps you focus on the present, which can improve your concentration on other tasks in daily life. Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention.
Researchers have found that meditation helps to counter habituation — the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve our ability to solve problems.
There are many, many studies that find a positive link between meditation and relationship quality.
For example, in one study, researchers measured mindfulness in 88 couples.
Then they took cortisol levels in each couple before and after they discussed a conflict in their relationship.
Unsurprisingly, cortisol levels spiked during the discussion, a sign of high stress. But levels in the most mindful people — both men and women — were quicker to return to normal after the conflict ended, suggesting they were keeping their cool.
This result is echoed in many studies of mindfulness in romantic relationships from the beginning to the very end.
Improves self-esteem and self-awareness
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to slow down, allows for deeper self-reflection, and can help you discover positive attributes about yourself.
It helps increase self-awareness by increasing the ability to examine one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment, which ends up improving self-esteem.
It encourages you to develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.
Fights against addictions
The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.
It can alter the brain receptors associated with any kind of addiction (drug, alcohol, sugar, etc.,) which may reduce cravings for these substances.
Additionally, it can increase your awareness of cravings and allow you to better manage them. Essentially, being aware about your craving is noticing the urge, noticing that it’s there, but not giving into it.
Mantra meditation, or a practice that uses repetitive sounds, can be used as a relaxation technique to promote healthier sleeping habits. Sleep problems often stem from stress, poor diet, aging or other chronic illnesses. But meditation before bedtime releases tension from your body, creating a peaceful state of mind.
Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.
Makes you more kind or loving
Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.
Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself. Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends, then acquaintances, and ultimately enemies.
To start a loving kindness meditation, you can envision anyone in your mind and wish them happiness. You can use a simple phrase that you silently repeat to yourself, like ‘may you enjoy happiness’ as you hold that person in your mind.