YOU KNOW THAT overwhelming feeling that seems to be an intrinsic aspect of modern life? With phones perpetually buzzing with notifications, deadlines always creeping closer, and the general ceaseless cacophony of the 21st century world, finding a moment of peace can seem like an impossible feat. Yet, tucked away amidst the chaos, lies a centuries-old practice that promises respite for the beleaguered mind, body and soul: meditation.
Far from resting exclusively in the domain of saffron-clad monks on majestic mountaintops and the banks of idyllic rivers, meditation has entered the mainstream. And people from all walks of life are embracing its benefits. So, should you give meditation a go? Let’s dig into the world of mindful meditation and explore the vast benefits of the simple, but effective wellness trend. These are the answers to all your most pressing questions.
How do you meditate?
Let’s start off simple. While meditation has more complex forms, it can be broken down into a series of simple actions you can do just about anywhere. For the most basic form of meditation find a quiet, comfortable space, sit or lie down with your back straight, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply, feeling the air enter your lungs, and exhale with control. Repeat this process for as long as you desire, whether it’s five minutes or an hour.
For meditative beginners, the most common question asked is: what happens if I get bored? Well, during meditation, as your mind inevitably begins to wander, don’t resist these thoughts, acknowledge them and guide your focus back to your breath.
Is there a best time to meditate?
The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anytime, anywhere, and still get results. With that being said, the early hours of the morning are commonly cited as the best time to meditate. By starting the day with mediation, you are taking time to get your head in the right place and set the tone for the day ahead. But ultimately everyone will find a time that works best for them.
What are the benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation are numerous and plentiful. Engaging in meditation can clear your mind, reduce stress, improve mental health, help you sleep, boost creativity and lower blood pressure—we’ll go into detail about how below—all for the paltry fee of spending a few minutes a day recentring and focusing on what matters.
Are there any downsides to meditating?
First things first, meditation is fundamentally safe, and there are negligible physical risks involved in the practice—no matter how adventurous you get. That being said, meditation doesn’t work for everyone, and studies have shown that, on rare occasions, it can have harmful effects on mental health.
A 2020 study, which compared results from 83 other studies, determined that around 8 per cent of participants experienced negative effects from meditating. The most commonly reported negative effects were anxiety and depression. It’s important to remember that this percentage is lower than most psychological therapies, and that most people won’t experience any negative effects from meditating.
Can meditation help clear your mind?
We’ve all heard of the term “mind over matter,” but meditation takes it to a whole new level. When you meditate regularly, you’re essentially putting your brain through a rigorous workout, minus the gym membership or sweat-soaked workout gear. It’s like hitting the reset button for your mind, creating a neural symphony that enhances memory, concentration, and cognitive function.
Numerous studies have shown that meditation can increase the density of grey matter in the brain, particularly in areas associated with self-awareness, introspection, and compassion. In simpler terms, it’s like giving your brain a tune-up, making it sharper and more efficient.
Can meditation reduce stress?
Stress is the silent villain in the story of our lives. It creeps into our daily existence like an uninvited guest, wreaking havoc on mental and physical well-being. But fear not, for meditation is the hero we all need. It’s an effective stressbuster, capable of defusing the ticking time bomb of stress that often accompanies our modern lifestyles.
Through the simple act of sitting still and focusing on your breath, meditation triggers the body’s relaxation response, reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol. This not only helps you feel more relaxed but also has a cascading effect on your overall health. Lower stress levels are linked to improved cardiovascular health, better immune function, and even a longer life. In essence, meditation isn’t just a way to calm the mind, it’s the key to a healthier, happier life.
How does meditation help your mental health?
Life is a rollercoaster of emotions. While we can’t always control the ups and downs, we can equip ourselves with better emotional resilience to better manage the good and bad, and meditation is one of the best ways to do so.
By practising meditation, you can become more aware of your emotions and better equipped to handle them. This increased emotional intelligence allows for healthier relationships, improved communication, and a greater sense of well-being. So, whether it’s a minor annoyance or a major life crisis, meditation can help you ride the waves of emotion with grace and poise.
Can meditation boost creativity?
Ever wondered how artists, writers, and innovators avoid getting stumped? They’ll all have different answers, but for many, it’s through meditation. When your mind is free from the clutter of everyday worries, it becomes a fertile ground for creativity to flourish.
Meditation can ignite the spark of inspiration by quieting the inner critic, fostering divergent thinking, and enhancing your ability to see connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. So, if you’re stuck in a creative rut, it might be time to swap that coffee break for a meditation break and watch your creative juices flow.
Does meditation lower blood pressure?
The benefits of mediation are not limited to the mental sphere. Studies have shown that meditating regularly can reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure—to a modest extent. Controlling blood pressure often requires medication or drastic lifestyle changes. Meditation is one of the few ways blood pressure can be lowered without requiring an extensive treatment, or a diet and exercise overhaul. However, studies on the subject have shown that the higher the blood pressure of an individual, the less effective meditation becomes in lowering their blood pressure.