The ancient art of meditation has been practiced since antiquity in multiple religions. Since the 19th century, it has expanded from religious practice to a secular one and become popular in countries around the world as a way to achieve a deeper connection with one’s own body and soul.
It permits practitioners to find a deep well of calm within their mind that helps still the thoughts of focus and focus energy.
While many people would like to start a meditation practice, they often fail to continue because they fail to find the time or to see the results they were hoping for. Meditation takes practice, but this practice can result in some incredible benefits in your life.
If you’re considering starting a meditation practice, but aren’t sure of what the results will be like, here are nine proven benefits of meditation that will help start you on the road to a successful meditation practice:
It reduces stress
In our fast-paced world, it isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from stress. Rarely do we respect weekends or take our full vacation allotment, which leaves us overworked and very stressed out. While stress is generally unpleasant, did you know it’s also quite dangerous?
Stress can contribute to illness by suppressing your immune system, trigger migraines and weight gain, and cause gastrointestinal issues.
To prevent this, you have to find methods to control your stress. With regular practice, meditation has been shown to help reduce stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Meditation also helps reduce the adverse effects of stress, such as a headache, restlessness, brain fog, irritability and more.
It helps control anxiety
Anxiety is not just worrying. Worry is a natural and vital response that can help keep us safe. Anxiety is what happens when that worry becomes disproportionate and chronic and starts to affect your life negatively. Stress and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, luckily, meditation has the same positive effects on anxiety that it does on stress.
Meditation has been found to reduce symptoms of social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and lessen the frequency of panic attacks. Meditation can also reduce job-related anxiety and can help you cope with worry-inducing events better.
It enhances your self-awareness
A clearer understanding of yourself can help you better harness negative thoughts and impulses and help you better control urges that may be self-destructive. Meditation can give you this control by helping you channel your mental power to combat feelings of negativity, loneliness, and low self-esteem.
It can help fight addiction
Negative urges can be a contributing factor as to why many addiction sufferers fall back into the patterns that lead them to substance abuse issues in the first place. Meditation helps people become masters of urge surfing.
These urges can feel like a kind of tunneling sensation that makes you feel like the only outcome is to seek out your addictive or destructive behaviors. Meditation helps give practitioners a “natural high,” which allows sufferers to find peace within themselves instead of seeking out endorphins or dopamine hits through addictive substances.
It helps with sleep disorders
For anyone that has ever crawled under the blankets, exhausted, but was unable to fall asleep, the idea of getting a long, uninterrupted night’s rest must sound like nirvana.
Insomnia is a relatively common sleep disorder that people can experience at brief intervals, or it can become a chronic condition. Insomnia affects your work performance, personal relationships, and overall well being and can make you more susceptible to illness.
Meditation–and specifically mindfulness meditation–has been shown to evoke the relaxation response in people who practice it regularly, which helps people fall asleep naturally and stay asleep longer.
It decreases high blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, you know that you have one of the number one risk factors for heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder than usual to pump blood through your arteries.
When you’re looking to fix high blood pressure, you will most likely be required to take some medication, maybe lose weight, cut out salt, and exercise regularly, and you will also be required to lower your stress levels.
Meditation has been shown to help sufferers of high blood pressure by reducing their stress levels and by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function.
It improves your attention span
If you find your mind drifting and are unable to focus, meditation may help lengthen your attention span and encourage you to focus. Meditation can also help you remember details more clearly and retain information longer. Even short-term meditation can be beneficial so you will see results even after only a short period.
It can help control pain
Chronic pain can make living almost unbearable. Over time, chronic pain can significantly reduce one’s enjoyment of life and make people irritable, depressed, and withdrawn. The constant aching can make even the smallest task seem impossible, and painkiller use can become a dangerous habit.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to soothe and slow brain patterns, making the pain more bearable and less noticeable. Meditation has even been prescribed by medical professionals to help patients cope with pain from illnesses like cancer, fibromyalgia, and heart disease.
When you’re looking for pain relief, you may find a lot of sites that compare hypnosis vs. meditation. Both can give you pain relief, but hypnosis is triggered by another person, while meditation is self-directed.
It can help with depression
Meditation has been found to be incredibly successful in treating depression. The brooding that depression causes can be counteracted with meditation. Meditation helps quiet the “noise” of depression and slow the negative cycle of thoughts that contribute to depression.
During mindfulness meditation, you are encouraged to allow negative thoughts to pass over you and understand that these thoughts will pass and that you only have to give them time to do so.
By doing this, you will find that depressive thoughts will become less overwhelming and you will be able to focus more on your recovery and on calming your inner turmoil.