Meditation is all over the news and social media right now. Self-care is the hot new trend, and meditation is the epitome of the self-care movement. But why? Why meditation? What exactly does it mean to meditate and what exactly does it do for you?
What is Meditation?
It may be easier to start with what meditation isn’t. Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person. It is not going to make you a new person, and it definitely is not going to make you a better person. Meditation is simply a method of training yourself to bring your awareness to your own thoughts and feelings and of learning to take a step back from those thoughts and feelings to gain a healthier perspective from them. You don’t need to (and should not try to) turn off your thoughts or feelings, you’ll just learn to observe them without judgement.
There are many benefits to meditating regularly but let’s start with 10, 5 physical benefits and 5 mental benefits:
5 Physical Benefits of Meditation
- Meditation increases neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to be flexible, to organize thought, and to learn.
- Meditation has been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure.
- Meditation reduces the production of cortisol, the hormone related to stress and anxiety that has also been linked to weight gain and retention.
- Meditation has been linked to increased blood flow to the brain increasing one’s overall brain function.
- Meditation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system improves one’s ability to recover from strain and stress.
5 Mental Benefits of Meditation
- Meditation increases emotional stability allowing us to be more present and less reactive in the moment.
- Meditation increases our abilities to feel empathy and compassion, allowing us to better consider the feelings and needs of others.
- Meditation improves our capacity to learn by stimulating the pre-frontal cortex or learning center of the brain.
- Meditation improves focus and attention again through it’s ability to stimulate the pre-frontal cortex.
- Meditation increases our comfort in social settings by reducing feelings of anxiety and disconnection from ourselves and from the world around us.
One of the most fascinating things that I find about meditation is its ability to have both immediate and long-term positive impacts. Not only will you notice positive changes each and every time you meditate, but if you commit to regular daily meditation you will notice that these changes have compounding effects that last.
If you would like to get started with a new meditation routine, I highly recommend starting with guided meditation, as I find this form of meditating to be far more accessible and approachable for the beginner. There are a number of free apps, internet sites, videos, workshops, and other readily available resources for guided meditation available both online and in the community.