What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of meditation? Is it associated with images of Buddhist monks in saffron robes and linked deeply with religious enlightenment and spirituality? To a great extent, this perception is quite correct, but in reality it’s not only the monks and religious leaders who practice meditation. Many atheists and agnostics are enthusiast meditators too. This means that to reap the benefits of meditation, you don’t have to embrace a religious view. Conversely, everyone can incorporate meditation in his life to increase his wellbeing.
What is meditation?
The cultivation of mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism. All religions have a certain prescribed prayer or meditation technique that relaxes people when they are in a perplexed state of mind, helping them to maintain a calm and serene outlook on life and building their ability to face difficulties. Meditation involves training your brain to bring your thoughts and feelings into conscious awareness. Over time, this practice leads you to attaining a more profound understanding of the purpose of your existence and your place in this world. Meditation teaches you to perceive the essence of life and appreciate every moment of it. Furthermore, committing yourself to meditation will help you discover your inner self and connect with your true self, coming to term with your imperfections as well as accepting and loving yourself, the way you are. These long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing will elevate you from within, giving you a lighter and self-sufficient feeling.
Cognitive benefits of meditation
The most common form of meditation, of which many people are aware of, is concentrating on your breathing and paying close attention to the way nature has miraculously shaped everything systematically. This practice consists of purposefully focusing your attention on the moment at hand and trying to connect to your inner self without judgment. Continuously repeating a specific phrase or closely focusing on the sensation of breathing should allow the free flow of thoughts to enter and leave you without letting anxiety develop. The multitude of thoughts may include both thoughts which are meaningful and deserve attention and others which are simply mundane and not worth fretting over. The parade of thoughts that you will experience during meditation will allow you to skim over your cognitive responses, which will eventually make you realise that it is not incumbent upon you to react to each and every thought of yours. Thoughts will invade your mind seemingly coming from thin air and then will burst like a soap bubble as if they had never existed.
This leads to the insightful understanding that thoughts and feelings are transitory and change with every passing moment and it is in your jurisdiction whether to react to them or not. When the conveyor belt of thoughts gets uncontrollable, it can lead to mental disorders, such as acute anxiety and depression, and might adversely affect the productivity of an individual. Therefore, practising meditation regularly as a way of gaining control over your thoughts, will enhance your concentration span.
A powerful virtual muscle
Meditation is like a muscle. If it is not used to being subjected to pressure and to withstanding it, it tends to weaken or sag. On the other hand, when it is exercised, it becomes stronger. The various external and internal pressures test your limits, broaden your horizons and help your mindfulness to expand. Have you ever heard the saying “see challenges as opportunities”? This could not the more true for meditation. Challenges allow you to tone and strengthen the mind. The more challenges life brings your way, the greater the amount of first-hand experience you get and the stronger you emerge.
As you meditate, your brain gets rid of all the negative vibes and thoughts. You feel less burdened by mental chatter and nagging emotions seem to fade away. Feelings of stress and anxiety take low ebb. The inner calmness and composure gives relief to the brain and heart, leading to a more positive outlook on life, increased mental ability and enhanced creativity. Peace of mind helps you sleep more soundly at night. Consistent and concerted efforts in this direction will ultimately lead to these positive effects being a permanent and established part of your life.
Learning to challenge your negative thoughts and connecting to your spirituality play a vital role in reducing stress. Meditation helps you to dissolve your inner voice. It allows you to be more mindful of your breath and yourself, allowing you to love yourself more. Meditate every single day for maximum benefit, even if it is for two minutes at a time. Meditation helps us become aware of habitual patterns, focusing narrowly on what matters. Meditation is a transformative process that is felt rather that spoken about. Research has shown that meditation improves physical wellbeing in a number of ways:
• Helps relieve stress
• Reduces ageing at the cellular level by promoting chromosomal health
• Improves control of blood sugar in type II diabetes
• Improves heart and cardiovascular health reducing the risk of heart diseases
• Improves sleep
• Alleviates gastrointestinal difficulties
Psychotherapists and physicians also use meditation as an important tool to treat many problems including depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. With regular sessions of meditation people experience decreased irritability, improved memory, enhanced creativity, a longer attention span and increased mental stamina. Given the benefits of meditation, why not include it in your daily routine?Zyana Morris is a passionate blogger who loves to write about prevailing Health and Lifestyle trends. She is a featured author on various blogs and a writer at CentraCare.org, a Tampa urgent care centre. Follow ZyanaMorris on Twitter for more updates.