You’ve probably heard it somewhere before, people talking about the mental health benefits of Meditation. Perhaps on a television program or radio show, but now we’re going to take a closer look.
Hello and welcome folks to day 1 of my journey to understand Meditation and what the heck it’s all about. Normally I spend some of my time (of course) physically exercising, learning about nutrition, or just writing about it all.
But recently I’ve been looking into expanding my horizons a little, and in came the idea of Meditation along with many others. But this one stuck with me as I realized that being healthy and active is about so much more than just lifting weights and drinking protein shakes. There’s a whole side to mental health that deserves some attention of its own.
I myself have struggled with mental health issues over the years, over many years with no diagnosis from Doctors or any special attention from family or friends. When I was younger growing up in a very rural community, there was very little attention put towards mental health compared to what it’s like today. This resulted in my own path to good health starting a lot later than it should have.
So where does Meditation fall into all of this?
In an effort to be healthy all around, Mind, Body, and Spirit, I have chosen to try and tackle Meditating on a regular basis now too. I have heard nothing but good things from those that practice, and the extensive history of it in Eastern culture further emboldens my curiosity.
My plan is to blog a full 30 days of Meditation, each day providing any useful resources, tips, and insights that I encounter along the way. Whether it’s YouTube videos, books, or other useful websites, I’ll use this as a means to track these tools and make them available for others to benefit from.
So without any further rambling, I’m going to get right into it. Here are 5 Mental Health Benefits of Meditation:
Benefit #1: Relieves Anxiety
This is my biggest and baddest weakness as far as mental health goes. Fear of public speaking? Check. Nervous wreck at parties? Check. Massive jump in heart rate every time the phone rings and its work calling? Check-a-rooney!
So does any of that sound like you or someone you know? Believe me, its more common than people realize.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA for short) has reported that around 1 in 5 Americans suffer from an Anxiety disorder. That’s over 40 Million people every year – not just people that work in really dangerous jobs or live in rough neighborhoods either. We’re talking all kinds of folks from all walks of life, including those blessed with very good fortune, family, etc.
And to make matter worse, only one-third of these individuals are getting diagnosed for the conditions they have. That leaves a lot of unfortunate, suffering souls without proper help and direction. So what can you do?
Well, seeing as I’m not a Doctor of any kind, I can’t prescribe this or that, but.. I will offer up this handy tidbit of information: Meditation can lead to reduced stress and anxiety.
In a report published by Harvard Medical School, they’ve discovered many incredible studies that have led researchers to look deeper into the “mysterious” art of Meditation based on the positive results for patients.
Without getting too deep into the science stuff, I’ll just say that Meditation teaches us to slowly gain control of our thoughts over time. This can allow you to become much better at brushing off negative thoughts or pressures, and accepting life as it is now in the moment. This is a hugely beneficial tool for those with wandering anxious minds like my own.
Benefit #2: Reduces Stress Levels
It goes pretty well hand-in-hand with reducing anxiety as you may imagine, reducing stress for your body and mind overall can be a truly wonderful thing.
For example, in a study reported by sciencedirect.com on the subject of Meditation, regular meditation was found to reduce inflammation of the brain. That kind of neurological stress is proven to play a part in diseases like Arthritis, Asthma, and a few others. Wouldn’t that be nice, being able to prevent some of that in your life!
Benefit #3: Learn to Focus
Our minds are sometimes referred to as wild creatures or hurricanes and so on, for good reason too. Our thoughts come flying in with little to no warning, often back out just as easily. But sometimes they lead down rabbit holes, full with all kinds of emotion-stirring memories or imaginative ideas. And there never seems to be any rhyme or reason to the process at all, let alone any control.
This is where Meditation comes into play again. With practice every day is said to come an enhanced ability to focus your mind and take some control over what happens. To be more specific, being able to dismiss thoughts (good or bad) with ease and not get overwhelmed by our own thoughts.
This can be invaluable to those with overactive brains, that cause themselves unnecessary stress or just can’t focus. Think of your mind like a muscle that needs to be worked in order to grow stronger. The more often you actively practice meditation, the stronger your focus will grow.
Benefit #4: Improves Memory
Another fantastic thing that I think we can all benefit from no matter your age is improving your memory. As time goes on and we get older, our memory starts to slip gradually and for some it becomes impossible to properly maintain and recall information. If you’re familiar with Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia, then you know how important our minds are.
Thankfully, Science has gifted us with more research into Meditation and found it to help our memory too!
This can help fight off things like Alzheimer’s and keep our brains in good health for longer. It might not be a bulletproof cure, but every bit helps.
Benefit #5: Improved Quality of Sleep
We’re always told that sleep is very important for us, get at least 8 hours and all that jazz. But there is a lot of truth to it all, as the effects of sleep deprivation are ugly on both the short and long term. Not enough sleep can cause fatigue, weakness, and an inability to focus – which all sounds pretty bad if you have to operate a vehicle or some kind of heavy equipment, or even just go to the gym.
Long term the effects are arguably even worse. Poor quality of sleep over time can lead to things like heart disease and eating disorders, which can result in weight gain too. These are all things we can seek relief from by using Meditation to improve the quality of our sleep.
With just a few minutes a night you can help set your mind to relax and drift off into a more restful slumber. This also means that once you develop a habit and improve your meditative skills, you’ll start saving time each night with a reduction in tossing and turning.
That’s super helpful if you’re like me and sometimes roll yourself right off the bed in an effort to get comfortable. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on my sleep for the next little while.
At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, “what is it costing me to try it out?” and as it turns out, nothing! Meditation is free – you don’t need any fancy books, pillows, videos, etc. All you need is a quiet place that you can sit and practice doing nothing, basically.
Sure it helps to have a sense of direction in the storm that is teaching yourself stuff like this, so I’m all for using whatever works for you in the end. As I mentioned, I’ll be linking in other resources and things that I find handy along the way.
To all I wish a safe and educational journey on your own Quest for Fitness.