Mindfulness is the concept of bringing full awareness to the present moment in front of you. Instead of living your life going about your typical routine, mindfulness allows you to experience each moment as it unfolds in front of you. Mindfulness has proved itself time and time again as an effective coping strategy for working through feelings of disconnection, stress, and anxiety in daily life. Mindfulness fosters a greater sense of wellbeing, improves self-esteem, and increases the ability to relax.
Among the various practices of mindfulness lies meditation. Alongside its numerous benefits, meditation serves as an incredible way to enhance both your physical and psychological wellbeing. You may wonder how meditation can produce such profound benefits. To understand why meditation is so powerful, it is important to know how meditation works in the brain and body.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a set of techniques that train personal awareness and perspective. It is intended to encourage focused attention and heightened awareness of the present moment.
Meditation has the power to produce altered states of consciousness that produce a wide range of benefits on both your physical and mental health. In fact, it is being used more and more regularly as a popular therapeutic intervention for easing mental distress.
Meditation has been practiced in many different cultures for nearly thousands of years. It can be used for religious purposes and independently without any spiritual motive.
There are numerous types of meditation, with each type offering unique benefits for the practice. Almost all types of meditation involve practicing it in a quiet location with few disturbances, sitting or lying in a comfortable position, engaging in focused attention, and having an open mind.
The Effects of Meditation
Research suggests that meditation may be able to implement positive physical changes to your brain and body that can improve many health outcomes. Meditation works to focus the attention of your mind on a particular stimulus by eliminating any rumination, such as anxious or intrusive thoughts, that may be contributing to your feelings of stress. The wandering mind is associated with worry. It serves as a valuable tool to increase concentration, focus, and calmness.
Another important effect of meditation is that it works to reduce negative thought patterns. Meditation is a form of mindfulness, and mindfulness is characterized by experiencing:
- heightened awareness
As you continue to engage in meditation, you will deliberately evaluate the thought patterns that may consciously come to mind. Every time your mind becomes distracted by negative or harmful thoughts, you must regain focus of a specific stimulus that was previously chosen for the practice. Most commonly, the breath is used as the focus stimuli.
During the process of meditation, you may experience several other health benefits. Perceived physical health benefits may include:
- reduced blood pressure
- reduced heart rate
- reduced cortisol (which is responsible for feelings of stress)
- decreased metabolism
- balanced breathing patterns
- greater utilization of oxygen
- greater elimination of carbon dioxide
- increased melatonin
- increased blood flow in the brain
Perceived psychological benefits may include:
- stress reduction
- decreased anxiety
- improved memory
- pain reduction
- decreased anxiety
- decreased depression
Beginning Your Meditation Journey
The process of meditation is simple and easy. As a first-timer, you may struggle to sit in silence and do nothing, especially when you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts. No matter the reason that you want to meditate, understand that it may take time for meditation to produce significant benefits for you while you are first learning. There are many different types of meditation, the easiest one being mindful meditation. You can either follow instructions from a guided meditation podcast or video or do it independently.
Start in a comfortable position, either sitting or laying down. Try to do this practice in a quiet place with limited distractions. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. With every inhale and exhale, continue to keep your concentration and focus on your breath.
When and if you feel your thoughts start to wander, return your focus to your breath. Especially for beginners, you will likely have to do this several times during your first few sessions. The process is pretty straightforward: stay focused on your breath, and allow your mind to be fully present in the moment.
Let go of any expectations you have for your practices. Instead of focusing on having a “good” meditation session, focus on increasing your awareness. When you find yourself lost in thought, return to the breath.
Meditation is a valuable practice of mindfulness that allows you to strengthen your awareness of the present moment. There are several different practices of meditation, with each type producing significant benefits to your physical and psychological wellbeing. Meditation works by teaching your mind to concentrate on a specific stimulus, such as your breath. Meditation fosters acceptance, objectivity, and non-judgment of your internal processes, helping to improve your self-esteem. Meditation is proven to be an effective therapeutic intervention for mental health treatment due to its numerous benefits. Casa Recovery is a private mental health and addiction treatment center that offers comprehensive treatment programs, believing that holistic treatment modalities are incredibly valuable to your ability to heal from mental distress. Meditation offers self-discovery and healing, which are key factors to establishing your long-term recovery success. For more information about meditation, or about the treatment facility, call Casa Recovery today at (888) 928-2272.