We’re living in a time when anxiety and stress are at an all-time high (thanks, COVID). Unfortunately, not all of us have the opportunity to head to the Himalayas for three months and detach from the outside world while learning from a wise old monk. While a night filled with junk food and Netflix is a great way to unwind, it doesn’t help when attempting to foster healthy habits and tackle the incessant chatter of a busy mind that’s hellbent on causing more anxiety.
No longer just for the yogi looking to achieve enlightenment, meditation has become a popular technique within modern society thanks to its countless health benefits. Along with training your mind and relieving anxiety, there are a few other scientific health benefits to starting a meditation practice.
It reduces stress
The big kahuna and one of society’s greatest enemies right now – stress. Reducing stress is one of the biggest reasons people develop a meditation practice. We all understand that stress is caused by an increase in the hormone cortisol, which produces several negative effects associated with stress, including a release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
The meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” was utilised during an 8-week study, which found that this practice resulted in a significant reduction in the inflammatory response. A range of studies has also indicated the correlation between meditation and a significant reduction in the stress hormone.
Better Emotional Health
Mediation is an excellent way to cultivate a positive mindset, not only within life but about yourself too. Research conducted on the topic found that those who partook in meditation practices experienced reduced symptoms of depression, along with fewer negative thoughts and a boost in self-image. This practice also allows you to understand your emotions a bit better and how to navigate and process them.
Meditation is a wonderful way to dive deeper into getting to know yourself better and do some introspection. Meditation of self-inquiry is perfect for doing just that, and it aims to provide a deeper understanding of yourself and how you relate to others. A controlled study found that after 153 adults used a mindfulness app for two weeks, they experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and a need to increase social contact.
Poor sleep hygiene gives way to a host of other problems, including poor mood, depression, anxiety, and skin-related issues. One study found that individuals who participated in mindfulness-based meditation practices did not get up as frequently in the night as those who did not. Further evidence suggests that having a regular meditation practice allows you to manage runaway thoughts, ensuring a relaxed state of mind and a peaceful night’s rest.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a world that’s filled with endless kindness? Because meditation is all about training your mind, some meditation practices can cultivate positive feelings towards yourself and others. Metta is one such mediation and is considered to be a loving-kindness meditation that develops kind thoughts and feelings towards yourself.
Aside from the obvious benefits, a study conducted on this form of meditation showed that peoples’ compassion towards themselves and others increased exponentially.