Meditation has a history that goes back thousands of years. The term “meditation” refers to a variety of practices that focus on mind and body integration and are used to calm the mind and enhance overall well-being. Some types of meditation involve maintaining mental focus on a particular sensation, such as breathing, a sound, a visual image, or a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. Other forms of meditation include the practice of mindfulness, which involves maintaining attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments. Meditation has been shown to offer many benefits. Although it’s well known as a technique to reduce stress and anxiety, research shows that it may also help enhance your mood, promote healthy sleep patterns, and boost cognitive skills.
Meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.
The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its many health benefits. People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance.
You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.
Benefits of Meditation
"Mediation can improve your quality of life thanks to its many psychological and physical benefits"
Tammy Drummond-Rowland, RN HN
1. Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based interventions, such as meditation, have been shown to improve mental health, specifically in the area of stress. When faced with a difficult or stressful moment, our bodies create cortisol, the steroid hormone responsible for regulating stress and our natural fight-or-flight response, among many other functions. Chronic stress can cause sustained and elevated levels of cortisol, which can lead to other negative effects on your health, including cardiovascular and immune systems and gut health. Meditation, which focuses on calming the mind and regulating emotion, can help to reduce chronic stress in the body and lower the risk of its side effects.
2. Anxiety Management
Meditation can help counter the effects of anxiety—often noted as overwhelming feelings of fear, worry and tension—by slowing down racing thoughts and regulating breathing, which calms the nervous system. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include sweating, dizziness or a rapid heart rate, caused by overthinking past or future outcomes. People with anxiety who regularly practiced meditation over the course of three years saw positive, long-term impacts on their mental health.
3. Depression Management
Meditation can also help reduce the symptoms of depression through mindfulness and emotional regulation. One study observing individuals on a three-month-long yoga and meditation retreat found that participants showed significant improvements in depression after the retreat, as well as enhanced stress resilience and wellbeing.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Hypertension—also known as high blood pressure—is estimated to affect one billion people worldwide and about half the people in the U.S. Meditation has been noted to provide promising results in decreasing high blood pressure, especially when paired with healthy lifestyle habits like a balanced diet and exercise.
5. Strengthens Immune System Health
Meditation has also been found to be an effective behavioral treatment for various conditions associated with a weakened immune system. Consistent meditation has been shown to reduce the body’s stress response, resulting in less inflammation and decreased risk of conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue and heart disease.
6. Improves Memory
While meditation is best known to help ease stress and anxiety, it can also improve your brain structure. When you practice meditation, your brain is able to produce more gray matter, researchers found. Gray matter is crucial for healthy brain cognition, as it protects the hippocampus, the part of our brain connected to memory. It’s also crucial for basic human functions, including our ability to control movement and emotions. The same study found that meditating for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks can increase how much gray matter your body produces.
7. Regulates Mood
When practiced over time, meditation has the ability to change how you emotionally react to situations. Elements of meditation, which generally include mindfulness and controlled breathing, can lead to less impulsive reactions. This means instead of reacting from a heightened emotional state such as anger or panic, people who practice regular meditation may gain the ability to more successfully regulate their mood.
8. Increases Self-Awareness
Meditation increases self-awareness by creating a habit of focusing on the present, allowing you to notice your thoughts as they come up. Research shows that practicing meditation can help develop self-awareness, as well as improve impulse control and a person’s relationship with themselves and others.
9. Improves Sleep
Meditation can improve a person’s ability to sleep and quality of sleep. When most of us are struggling to sleep, it’s because our minds are ruminating over the day, or worrying about tomorrow. Meditation effects have been shown to help with insomnia, as well as day-time sleep related issues, such as fatigue.
10. Pain Control
Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. Meditation can help treat chronic pain when used in conjunction with medical care or physical therapy.
Meditation is something everyone and any age can do to improve their mental and emotional health. You can do it anywhere, without special equipment or memberships.
Alternatively, meditation courses and support groups are widely available.
There’s a great variety of styles too, each with different strengths and benefits.
Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day, and It's Free!
To learn more about meditation, or to schedule a guided mediation session :
Tammy Drummond-Rowland, RN HN