Since ancient times, meditation has been used as a way to help people feel more at peace. And in recent years, meditation has increased in popularity due to its scientifically-proven benefits.
Meditation is a process that involves training the mind to focus, relax and redirect your thoughts.
The most common types of meditation include:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Movement meditation (Yoga)
- Mantra meditation
Because these practices require different skills and mindsets, you should consider your needs and personality to find the one that works best for your lifestyle.
Positive Effects of Meditation
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety reduction are two of the best-known benefits of meditation practice. According to a study conducted in 2016, 21.6% of people start meditating for stress relief while 29.2% do it for anxiety.
During meditation, your mind may be focused on eliminating inner thoughts that tend to cause a strain on your emotional well-being. Having a good state of self-awareness and tranquility will help you manage any symptoms related to stress throughout the day.
2. Controls Pain
Research shows 11% of the U.S. adult population suffers from chronic pain every year. Since our physical perception of pain is directly linked to our minds, it can be raised when we’re under a lot of stress.
Mindfulness meditation is a great way to control pain because it allows you to focus on breathing and how the body feels in the present moment. When you breathe up to six breaths a minute, your body becomes aligned with rhythms in the nervous system.
You can also discover how to manage joint pain with these 10 chair yoga exercises.
3. May Lower Chances of Memory Loss
Meditation has a proven track record of lowering signs of memory loss. In fact, Meditation can increase telomerase–an enzyme needed to reduce progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s–by 43%. Additionally, researchers found that people who meditate regularly can harness the power or feeling of a subconscious mind, giving your brain the ability to retain more information.
4. Increases Attention Span
Focused meditation practices can have a tangible effect on the strength and endurance of your attention span. A 2017 study from the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement revealed that meditation has the potential to prevent age-related mental declines. The participants underwent a series of meditation training tests, which included sustaining focus on objects, mindful breathing techniques and generating positive emotions for others and themselves.
The outcomes from the study have shown the training enhanced the participants’ emotional well-being and led them to perform better on tasks related to focus and maintaining attention.
5. Improves Sleep
Mantra meditation, or a practice that uses repetitive sounds, can be used as a relaxation technique to promote healthier sleeping habits.
Scientific research published by JAMA Internal Medicine included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had trouble sleeping. Half of the participants received 6 weeks of meditation training, while the other half took sleep hygiene education classes. At the end of the study, the meditation group experienced less insomnia, fatigue and symptoms related to depression.
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.