How Meditation Creates a Better You (6 Big Benefits)
We all want to be happy, successful and satisfied, but are we on the right path?
Spiritual author and motivational speaker Wayne W. Dyer says, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”
Similarly, the main purpose of meditation is to train our mind to induce positive thoughts – something that’s conducive to mental peace and well-being.
6 Mental Health Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a growing wellness trend, with more and more people discovering its health benefits. While some use it to connect with themselves and their surroundings, others do it to reduce stress and develop their concentration.
Here, we discuss six ways in which meditation can improve your mental health and help you become a better person.
1) It’s a Wonderful Stress Buster
Thanks to our busy lifestyles, much of our stress comes from excessive mental input and a lack of time or tools to manage that input.
For example, our brains collect a lot of information and emotions. But if we fail to process them in the right way, they’ll occasionally get overloaded. This can cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. The result is disrupted sleep which promotes depression and anxiety, increases blood pressure, and contributes to fatigue and negative thinking.
When you meditate, you release some of the brain overload that builds up and contributes to your stress. It works by simply giving your brain the time to rest and process the information, bit by bit, letting go of what is unnecessary. Meditation can also lessen symptoms of stress-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
2) It Improves Brain Function
Research has shown that a brain process called gyrification occurs more in people who meditate regularly. Gyrification is “the “folding” of the cerebral cortex due to development, which in turn helps the brain process information faster. Scientists believe that gyrification is one of the reasons behind better information processing and attention, decision making and memory formation.
What’s more, there‘s evidence from MRI scans that meditation can increase thickness in regions of the brain responsible for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing. The data further suggests that meditation may improve age-related declines in cortical structure. Simply put, meditation can not only make your brain function better but decelerate the brain’s aging process. Another study reveals that anxiety and depression can be controlled, to a certain extent, with meditation, alongside SSRIs.
3) It Boosts Self-Awareness
Some forms of meditation can help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, hence boosting your self-worth and helping you grow as an individual.
For instance, self-inquiry meditation gives you a greater insight into how you relate to those around you. Other forms teach you to identify thoughts that may be destructive or self-defeating.
When we meditate, we get a bigger picture of our mind and become aware of the thoughts that influence our emotions and actions in the moment. The objective is to help you gain greater awareness of your thought process so you can steer them towards something more positive and constructive.
4) It Strengthens Alertness
Mindfulness meditation helps you concentrate on the present, which helps improve your concentration on everyday tasks.
With regular meditation, you reach a ‘flow’ state where your mind is in complete harmony with itself. A 2011 research study conducted by the Harvard Medical School studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and found a strong connection between meditation and information processing. The brain scans of the people who participated in the eight-week meditation program showed a stark rise in gray matter of the parts responsible for learning, memory and emotional regulation. Even people who meditated for short durations showed more improvement in focus than those who did not meditate at all.
Another study shows that meditation can reverse patterns in the brain that cause the mind to wander, nervousness, and poor attention.
5) It Helps Fight Addiction
The mental discipline and self-control that you develop through meditation may help reduce cravings for drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
With regular practice, people learn to redirect their attention, manage their cravings and emotions, and increase their understanding of the causes behind their addiction. One study conducted with 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol addiction found that regular transcendental meditation can lower levels of stress, psychological distress and alcohol cravings, after just three months. Meditation may also help you control eating disorders like binge eating and compulsive eating, which are often associated with mental stress and anxiety.
6) It Improves Sleep
Nearly everyone experiences insomnia. One study conducted in a mindfulness-based meditation program found that people who meditated regularly had a better sleep pattern than those who did not. Learning meditation skills and practicing them regularly may help you manage or redirect the racing thoughts that often cause insomnia. It can also help relax your mind and body, releasing stress and placing you in a peaceful state wherein you’re more likely to fall asleep.
Now that you have a better sense of the how, what and why of meditation, you’re probably eager to learn the proper skills and savor its benefits. Get enrolled in a local meditation and stress management centre and see your life change for the better. Remember, a healthy mind makes for a happy life.