As knowledge of mental health grows, many people are accepting meditation as a healthy tool. In fact, instead of going to the gym, meditation is quickly growing as a new workout to help improve mental health, and depending on the form of meditation, your physical health as well.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is about bringing a sense of awareness to yourself by focusing on the now. While there are many ways to practice meditation, the goal is to focus your attention, which in turn, can create a natural state of rest and relaxation, opening yourself to greater possibilities.
Meditation can be as simple as a nightly breathing exercise, or a lifestyle change incorporating meditation into your life throughout the day. However you choose to meditate, there are several scientifically-backed benefits you can take away in only a few minutes of meditation a day. Here are five benefits of meditation and why you should begin practicing.
Improved Sleep Quality
Mental illness and insomnia (the inability to sleep) tend to go hand in hand. If you can sleep, you are vulnerable to mental illness; and if you have mental illness, you are vulnerable to insomnia. One primary reason why people suffer from insomnia is that they don’t have a relaxed state of mind when trying to fall asleep. From the stress of the day to not knowing what is going to happen in the future, people tend to overthink what has already happened, which can’t be changed, and what has not, and may not, happen. Meditation brings you to the now by bringing awareness to your current surroundings and removing the anxiety that prevents you from sleep.
Do you remember summer days as a kid and how long and enjoyable they seemed? Now, with work, school, bills, kids, and everything else going on in your life you may be hard-pressed to find the meaning in your life. You may have lost the appreciation of your time that you had when you were younger and lacked the stress of life. Meditation is a way to build the deeper connection to your life that you may have been searching for.
Improved Mental Health
Meditation can help you both during the day as you manage your focus as well as at night when you need quality sleep. Both are important to your mental health and overall well-being. A lack of quality sleep can lead to hormonal disruptions in your body which make it difficult for you to emotionally respond to your life at home and at work.
Meditation techniques can help keep your mind focused on the now, build awareness, and manage patience throughout the day when you would normally feel anxious or stressed. There are several studies that show how mindfulness meditation eases anxiety and mental stress. This has led to openness in the medical communities as more health professionals are recommending meditation techniques to manage complex mental health illnesses.
How to Start
Meditation is not as complex as many people believe, though as you learn to focus on the now, you will inevitably grow.
Meditating as little as five-minutes-a-day has been shown to improve one’s overall well-being and all you need is comfort, quiet, and breath.
It is suggested that when you meditate you begin in a quiet place in a comfortable seated position with your arms in your lap or at your side. While your eyes are closed count each in-breath and each out-breath as one, then two, then three and so on to ten. Then repeat. Focus on your inhale and exhale and try to think of nothing else. It does take time before your mind no longer wanders, but as you continue to meditate you will be able to control your thoughts to just focus on your breath.