Meditation has been shown to have a huge positive impact on mental health, along with studies showing that it improves your overall health and immune system. The main purpose of meditation is to stop the endless mind chatter and still your mind by withdrawing from your surroundings.
Due to our demanding environments of work and everyday life, the mental toxins can accumulate over a daily basis leaving our minds feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. By meditating, we can help ourselves to acknowledge and accept our thoughts and allow them to pass through our minds without judgement.
Here are 5 reasons for how meditation can benefit you:
1. Reduce stress and control anxiety
Meditation has been shown to reduce levels of harmful stress hormones, such as cortisol, in your body and trigger the body’s relaxation response. By quietening the stress-induced thoughts, it can calm the mind and body when the stress response is triggered, allowing us to react responsively rather than reactively when we’re thrown off.
2. Promote emotional health
Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response to stress, can affect mood, leading to negative thoughts and feelings. Studies show that meditation can decrease these chemicals, helping us to deepen our awareness and promote a more positive outlook on life.
3. Improve sleep
Meditation helps to keep our mind in the moment which can control those runaway thoughts when we’re struggling to fall asleep. Consistent practice can help train to stop the mind wandering there’s finally some quiet around you.
4. Boost Mood
When we meditate, the brain has been shown to produce higher levels of serotonin as well as increase Alpha brain waves which is the calm and relaxed state of the brain and enable you ‘to be’ in the present moment.
5. Improve attention span
By training your mind to redirect those repetitive thoughts, meditation can help you to focus on the present moment and the task in hand. Studies show that consistent meditation practice can slow cognitive decline and enhance memory function and attention.
With so many different types of meditation and it can be difficult to know where to begin so we spoke to Kristy, founder of The Ki Retreat, who shared her easy tips to get started meditating mindfully at home or on the go.
- Set a regular time and place - Mornings are ideal as the mind is clear and it sets a tone for the day.
- Set a timer. If it's new to you, start with just 5 or 10 minutes a day.
- Sit or lie comfortably and start to focus on your breathing
- Take a few deep breaths to help calm your mind & close your eyes.
- Then take your attention to your breath. Follow its pattern in and out- just focus on your breathing. When thoughts intrude - and they will - just return your attention back to your breath. Carry on doing this until the timer sounds.
Consistent practice matters more than long practice. This means that it's better to meditate for five minutes, six times per week than for 30 minutes once a week. The former can calm your body's stress response several times in a week, while the latter may calm your body into a deeper state of relaxation, but it will only reverse your stress response once
And remember, it's called "meditation practice" for a reason! The more you practice, the easier it becomes and the longer the gaps become in-between intruding thoughts.