If you haven’t caught on to the benefits of meditating, and still think it is the preserve of hippies wearing flowing floral fabrics who go around chanting yoga philosophy teachings, you couldn’t be more wrong. Wellness and mindfulness is a health and wellbeing focus that is now at the forefront of hectic lifestyles that most of us find ourselves in.
Meditation is for everyone and it’s certainly not just an activity reserved for the “spiritually woke.” Apps such as Headspace and Calm help with quick bouts of manageable meditation and there are plenty of meditation classes, across the capital that mix in yoga techniques in a relaxing haven for your own introspection and self-help, such as the Eve and Grace Wellness Centre.
Here are six ways that meditation can help you.
It allows you to be present
Our minds wander off all the time, often when we don’t even know we’re doing it, so bringing it back to the present moment takes power and concentration. According to mindful.org, Studies show that an individual’s disposition toward remaining in the present moment is linked to numerous health benefits including lower stress levels, a cure for anxiety and depression and an improved sense of wellbeing. A lot of anxiety-related issues are connected to conjectural worrying – basically worrying over things that have not yet happened. Being present and allowing yourself to stop worrying is a by-product of meditation and will help to relieve hypothetical tensions and intrusive thoughts that can consume your brain.
It aids sleep hygiene
Emptying your brain or at least having a clear out is a major tip for sleeping well. Harvard Medical School has published that meditation helps fight insomnia and improves sleep and reduces sleep disturbance. When you meditate, you will find yourself in a deep state of relaxation, some call it a trance, and instead of going to a dreamland like when you’re asleep, you’ll still be fully aware. This extreme relaxation will comfort your brain and make you sleep well at night with less to think about when you’re lying awake at 1am.
It helps you become self-aware
Becoming self-aware is an intangible concept that requires a bit of open mindedness to understand. Mindfulness comes with meditation and according to the NHS, Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, “mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.” Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. “It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”
It reduces anxiety
Standing back from your troubles and worries can really help with overcoming them. According to the NHS, meditation allows you to see patterns in your own thoughts and gradually “train yourself to notice when your thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.” This kind of awareness means that during an attack of anxiety or a bout of stress, it’ll act as a therapy because you’ll be able to separate out unhelpful thoughts that are adding fuel to the fire and instead, focus on how to solve the tangible problem at hand.
It focuses your energy
If you find it difficult to concentrate at work or find you have the memory of a sieve, meditation can help with that too. A study from The Journal of Neuroscience showed that “people who regularly practice meditation may improve their mental focus by altering brain function. Compared to non-meditators, they may be better equipped to quiet brain activity related to mind-wandering.” Learning to compartmentalise thoughts and understand the origins of your thoughts will help you focus at appropriate times. If your mind is wandering when it should be fixed, meditation can help you do away with messy thoughts and keep the positive ones close by.
It can help with addictions
An article from Forbes Magazine suggested that a growing number of studies show that, “given its effects on the self-control regions of the brain, meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction.” One study found that people who practiced mindfulness and meditation were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training, and at 17 weeks follow-up, than those in the conventional treatment.” The compartmentalisation of thoughts comes into play again. Being able to differentiate the thought of craving nicotine and the act of smoking means you will be able to train your mind to not conflate the two urges. It also means that you can concentrate on other things while your bout of craving passes until the urge dies down to nothing.
Has meditation helped you in your life? Let us know in the comments below.