Meditation is a simple, accessible way for a person to relax and free their mind from worries and discomfort. Consistent meditation can also provide some physical health benefits.
There are many types of meditation, but the basic principles are the same. People focus their attention on a sound, object, mantra, or breath and let their thoughts and feelings come and go without judgment.
Read on to learn more about the physical and mental benefits of meditation, how to start meditating, and more.
While meditation is not a cure-all solution, it allows a person mental space that can have a wide range of benefits.
Additionally, it may help people manage feelings of stress and anxiety. It does this by teaching the mind how to focus better on the present moment, allowing a person to release racing thoughts about the past or spiraling thoughts about the future.
While long-term meditation is valuable, it can also benefit people new to the practice.
A 2019 study of non-experienced meditators found that 8 weeks of brief, 13-minute-long daily meditation sessions helped ease negative mood state. It also boosted attention and memory. These results suggest that meditation can be beneficial even when it is of short duration.
Additionally, experts have found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
Meditation does not only benefit mental health, but it can also have positive effects on the body.
Evidence suggests that meditation can help manage pain by altering pain perception in the brain. A 2018 study of meditation, mindfulness, and chronic pain noted that meditation changes the brain over time. These changes can make a person less sensitive to pain.
Besides easing pain, meditation may also
Evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation interventions can significantly improve sleep quality and may effectively treat some types of sleep disturbance. As a person becomes more experienced in meditation, they learn to control or redirect a racing mind that can cause insomnia.
The practice also relaxes the body and places them in a peaceful state that is conducive to sleep.
Meditation can help people with various health conditions, including:
- Chronic back pain: A large
2017 studyfound that meditation improved pain intensity and physical functioning.
- Substance use disorder: In some cases, the mental discipline required for meditation may help people
manage their dependencies. People can learn to redirect their attention and manage impulses, cravings, and stress. However, this may not be the case for people experiencing addiction.
- Dementia: Stress, depression, anxiety, and reduced sleep quality can
increase the riskof Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation may reduce these adverse factors and decrease the risk of impaired cognition and dementia.
- High blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure contributes to atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries. This increases a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. A
2015 reviewfound that meditation could reduce blood pressure, particularly in older individuals.
One of the significant advantages of meditation is that it is easy to start, requires no special equipment, and does not take much time.
To begin, find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down. Try to remove any distractions or disturbances. A cross-legged pose facilitates deeper meditation and is a good option for beginners. People can also try sitting on a chair with both feet flat on the ground, back straight, and hands resting in the lap.
Once settled, close the eyes and focus on breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through the nose, then exhale gently through the mouth. Continue this pattern for several minutes.
When thoughts arise, let them come and go without judging them. If the mind wanders, refocus on the breath.
It is not unusual for beginners to have difficulty focusing on their breath for more than a few seconds. Over time and with practice, it will become easier to focus for longer periods.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate; patience and consistency are key. Try to meditate at the same time each day and gradually increase the duration of sessions.
Learn about ways to practice mindfulness and meditation here.
Meditation has many benefits that can improve a person’s mental and physical well-being. It may ease pain, improve sleep quality, and reduce stress.
A key benefit of meditation is that it is simple to begin and requires no special equipment. When starting, it is important to be consistent and patient. With time and practice, it becomes easier to focus and reaps more benefits.
Over time a person may find they have increased control over their thoughts, emotions, and impulses.