January 05, 2017

Meditation Benefits and How it can Improve Your Life

Meditation benefits can come in many forms to help promote good health and overall well-being including; improved focus and mental clarity, physical health and stress Relief, and enhanced memory and learning to name only a few.

What do you picture when you think 'Meditation'? Is it a person in an orange robe seated upright, cross-legged, with eyes closed for hours? Is it a class chanting mantras to gong-filled music? While those are certainly ways of meditating, which bring about many types meditation benefits, there are many other ways to practice this technique.

What about the college student who goes for a quick jog to 'clear her head' before a big study session? Or, the young professional who takes a few minutes before bedtime to consciously put himself into a relaxed state and let go of the stresses of his day?

These people have found modern ways of working meditation into their lives—no gongs or special robes required. Still, they are reaping the physical and mental health benefits. For the average teen and young adult, however, what is meditation? According to MedicineNet:
“Meditation is a typically self-directed practice for relaxing the body and calming the mind.”

Meditation Benefits

Since ancient times, Meditation has been practiced for the relaxation, mental clarity, and health benefits it can bring. In recent decades, scientists have taken a closer look at its practice and have intriguing discovered that regular meditation offers benefits in nearly every aspect of health.

While meditation does not replace prescribed medication or a physician's advice, it can work extremely well alongside them to improve overall well-being.

All kinds of people meditate for many different reasons whether it be to reduce stress, improve one's clarity of thought, or to help simply get a better nights sleep. The very concept of meditation, however, is often riddled with misconceptions. So here, we put aside those misconceptions and share with you some of the most important meditation benefits—and how to take advantage of what meditation can offer.

If you are a teenager or young adult interested in adding regular meditation into your life—then, great! Regular meditation brings about many health benefits, and the benefits can be different for everyone. Scientific studies, for instance, show there are many universal benefits to regular meditation. According to the article "Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress", published by Mayo Clinic;
“Meditation increases focus and mental clarity, physical and emotional health, the ability to learn, and quality of sleep.”
So, how can you get the most from meditation? Below, we share with you five ways daily meditation can help to positively transform your life. Put these into regular practice, in time, you’ll see how true it is.

Focus and Mental Clarity

Little by little, meditation builds up your 'concentration muscle'. Are you studying a subject you're not passionate about? Working a repetitive job? With practice, you'll find it easier to ignore distractions or boredom and get yourself focused for extended periods of time. If you are tired or faced with something confusing, this new-found concentration can help you come up with a smart solution and get you back on track.

Physical Health and Stress Relief

Many studies have shown that meditation, alongside doctor-supervised treatments, can help reduce heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase immunity to illnesses, and improve many other conditions. One of the primary ways meditation does this—is through reducing the stress you feel. It's the sense of relaxation which helps to lower blood pressure leading to health benefits in many aspects of your overall well-being.

It’s important to note, no matter how young and resilient you might feel now, it doesn’t mean it’s not important to take these potential health risks into consideration.

Emotional Well-Being

Meditation can support you emotionally, whether life is going well—or not so well. When you have to deal with a setback or loss, it's natural to feel sad, frustrated, or angry. Regardless of how you might be feeling you can improve your emotional resilience through meditation. It will help you to quickly bounce back so you are less likely to be pulled down into a deep depressive response.

On the flip side. It can also make your happy moments even happier! Meditation helps you focus on that great day you are having instead of missing parts of it because your mind's wandered off into a maze of worries and your to-do list. When you truly pay attention to what's at hand, food tastes richer, your friends' jokes are funnier, and you'll build a vivid memory of that moment you’ll fondly look back on for years.

Memory and Learning

A study conducted by Harvard Neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar, published by The Washington Post, shows that the brains of people who meditate; grow in the areas that control memory and learning suggesting, people who meditate have more efficient brains than those who don’t. Meaning the more you meditate, the better your brain will work more efficiently.

As a result, people who regularly meditate will learn and process new things faster and more efficiently. So the next time life throws you a curveball, you'll adapt without breaking stride. Now that is sure to help in the workplace, at school or university, and when dealing with high-pressure situations.

See also: 7 of the Best Binaural Beats You can Listen to for Free.

Deeper, More Rejuvenating Sleep

Sleep is an often ignored but a vital part of total wellness. According to Peri Camille’s 'What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mind', published by WebMD, just one night of poor sleeping can affect a person's thinking, memory, and coordination to the extent as if they were legally drunk. While that may seem exaggerated, for many of us it's a startling reality we live with all too often.

For all of us, at some point or another, getting a good night's sleep is sometimes not as easy at it should be as it’s common for many people to toss and turn at night, caught up in tension and fears that swirl around in their heads—whether they know it or not. This is where the subtle yet noticeable benefits of meditation can come in as it helps to put you in a clear and calm state of mind. A mental (and emotional) state to face those feelings and put them away, clearing the path to a deep and rejuvenating night's sleep that will leave you full of energy and ready for another day ahead.

Working Meditation into Your Life

Meditation is a simple practice. In its basic form, go to a distraction-free place and focus on one thing such as your breathing or a mantra of some sort. If it is breathing, focus on your breathing technique. If it is a mantra, chant it with attention and intention—as if there is a purpose beyond your thoughts.

In the article 'Use Mantras to Focus Your Mind and Change Your Life', published by mindbodygreen, expert in Somatics, Rana Waxman states;
“As with anything, the more attention you apply to your intention, the more dramatic the results.”
Once you are in a state of calm and centeredness, switch to listening to your inner voice, taking inventory of what is on your mind, and letting go of any worries or doubts about the future.

Dr. Sara Lazar's study also found that as little as eight weeks of regular meditation can bring noticeable benefits to mind, emotions, and body. It doesn't require a big time commitment; within a few weeks, you can see results from just a few minutes a day. The trick is to stick with it; at least five minutes every day will do more than a half-hour session once a week.

How to Work Meditation into Your Life

So how do you work meditation into your daily schedule? It may take a little trial and error to see what works best for you, but here are a few ways to get you started:
  • When your alarm goes off in the morning, sit up or get out of bed and hit the snooze button. Then, immediately, meditate for however long your snooze lasts. When your alarm goes off again, you are done for the day.
  • Walk to wherever you get lunch instead of driving. Feel what's going on in your body. The rumble in your stomach. The movement of your legs, and the wind in your hair.
  • For 5-10 minutes in your busy day, stop everything, including everything lingering on your to-do list and just enjoy the moment.
  • Before going to bed, take a moment to sit quietly and focus only on your breathing. It will also help to calm you down for a good night's sleep.

See also: Chakra Candles: What They Are and How to Use Them.

Pressed for time?

A tip suggested by Washington psychology professor Marsha Linehan, in an article published on TIME, is to sit on a park bench and let people pass by. Consciously tell yourself not to stare at them. Just relax and let the world move past you as you find that pool of inner peace inside yourself.

Are you a student and have upcoming exams? Try this. Put your books aside and meditate for just 20 minutes per day every day leading up to your exam. Why? Because scientists at the University of North Carolina recently found that;
“Students were able to improve their performance on tests of cognitive skill after just four days of meditation training for only 20 minutes per day.”
If you want to get the most out of your study time and while taking your exams try this. You should find you will be in a better state of mind to be at your best.

If you are pressed for time, duck into a bathroom stall for a sixty-second power session. Close your eyes and consciously relax any tight muscles. Focus on your breathing, trying to make each breath a little slower than the last. By the time your minute is up, your body will be relaxed, and your mind will be clear.

There are many things that can stress us out every day. Learn to consciously let go of worries and allow yourself to relax, clear the mind, and re-focus. By practicing this daily, it will significantly improve your happiness and overall well-being. So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of your day and get meditating!