There are many benefits of meditation that can help us to live a calm, disciplined and humble life, and we are about to share all of them with you. You may already be aware of the psychological benefits of meditation, but as you’ll see in this article, there are actually an array of physical and health related benefits too.
In this article we will cover:
This article will help you understand the mechanics of this practice so that you can reap the benefits of mindful meditation for a life filled with gratitude and happiness.
But just before we begin, why not make a career out of your passion for health and wellbeing by completing our level 3 personal training course. Or, learn about the other career options in the fitness industry by checking out our downloadable course prospectus here.
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What Is Meditation?
Defining meditation can be tricky due to the sheer versatility of the practice. However, what we can say is that the overall premise of meditation is a set of techniques, all of which are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness.
Meditation has been practiced over many cultures across the world for thousands of years and its main purpose is to enhance the conscious mind, with the ultimate goal of gaining leadership over your mind and body connection.
Although there are many different kinds of meditation, there are common denominators throughout many styles, those include:
- A quiet location
- Comfortable posture
- Breathing techniques
Some meditation requires these factors in order for you to feel the main benefits, those of which we will discuss soon. If you love to incorporate your meditation with yoga, head over to our article on the best yoga retreats in the UK here.
Why Should You Meditate?
There are many benefits of regular meditation that can bring real change into your life, whether that be helping with sleep, anxiety, or even addiction.
By practicing meditation, you are ultimately becoming more mindful and more aware of your thoughts, and this is of course one of the most significant mental benefits of meditation. This practice can help to address any anxieties or stress rather than locking them away. In turn, this can help to improve things such as sleep as you have less worries to think about at bedtime.
Overall, if you want an unmedicated journey to happiness, restful sleep and improved wellbeing, you should definitely consider meditation. You should also incorporate a healthy diet! If you need help or inspiration for healthy eating, read our article: what is a yoga diet? Everything you need to know here.
Though such mental health benefits are profound and proven worldwide, the often overlooked physical health benefits of meditation are arguably just as impressive.
So what are the benefits of meditation? Let’s get stuck in!
13 Benefits of Meditation
#1 Reduces Stress and Anxiety
One of the best benefits of meditation is the influence it has on anxiety and stress.
Though it may not cure the likes of generalised anxiety disorder, meditation can help to handle the pressures that come along with such diagnosis. One study tested 133 females to measure the stress reduction that can be induced with meditation. In the study, participants learned a simple mantra based meditation technique and were instructed to practice for 15-20 minutes, twice daily.
It was discovered that frequency plays a significant role in the effectiveness of meditation on stress and anxiety. Even brief meditation can improve negative mood and perceived stress in healthy adults, and in turn, promote a healthier physical lifestyle. The benefits were found to be more significant in participants who practiced consistently.
The simple action of sitting with your thoughts and addressing them, rather than suppressing them, can also be beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety as it allows you to rationalise situations rather than letting your mind run wild.
If you’re in the world of sport, read our article on how to improve mental toughness in athletes here.
#2 Improves Sleep
One of the most renowned benefits of meditation is of course the impact it has on sleep. It is a popular practice among those with insomnia-like tendencies as it induces a more restful sleep.
For the most part, people who struggle to sleep are kept awake at night by buzzing thoughts running through their mind. However, selecting a set time period to practice meditation can address any lingering thoughts so that you can sleep peacefully.
More scientifically, meditation has been found to increase the levels of melatonin in the body, a natural hormone that helps to control your sleep pattern. Though you can be prescribed a synthetic version of melatonin, increasing your natural level is an easier and safer way to introduce a healthy sleep pattern.
Whatsmore, meditation also improves your sleeping pattern by lowering your heart rate, training your body to become more relaxed. This lowered heart rate is something that occurs in the initial sleep stages, and so this relaxing effect helps you to calm the body and mind, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.
Improving sleep starts with letting your body rest, read about the importance of rest days and how many you need here.
#3 Helps Manage Chronic Pain
Want to know more benefits of meditation for your body? Well, one of the lesser known benefits of this practice is that it can even help to manage chronic pain.
Chronic pain management is one of the most important health benefits of meditation. Though some perceive this notion to be nothing more than a belief, it has been backed up by credible research.
The key way that meditation is believed to help manage chronic pain, is by training the brain to handle pain better. Even if you are doubtful of its effectiveness, practicing some different kinds of meditation won't do you any harm, so if you do suffer from chronic pain, give it a shot.
The findings of one study even showed evidence that suggested long term meditation is associated with structural changes in the brain. The affected areas were vital for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing, such that the changes of cortical structure identified caused participants to become less pain-sensitive.
Overall, it's among the most bewildering health benefits of mindfulness meditation, and though it isn’t a cure for chronic pain, it can help to put you in the right mindset and allow you to be at peace with your circumstances.
#4 Decreases Blood Pressure
In regard to the different types of meditation and their benefits, there are particular techniques that can decrease blood pressure. One technique that includes transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation was actually found to help with hypertension.
In one study where elderly people with systolic hypertension carried out this hybrid type of meditation, it was found that some were able to better control their blood pressure. Some were even able to reduce or eliminate their blood pressure medication all together.
Though more randomised trials are necessary to understand the impact that meditation has on blood pressure, it is a good indicator that the benefits of meditation have the power to impact health in this way.
Don't forget about one of the best ways to control blood pressure - consistent exercise! Head over to our article on cardio & aerobic exercise: benefits, risks and frequency here for more guidance.
#5 Keeps You Humble
So, we’ve mentioned a couple of ways that meditation can improve your physical health, but what are the benefits of meditation for improving your overall quality of life? If you want to know more about how meditation can contribute towards a more positive lifestyle, we have good news for you.
For what could be considered as one of the spiritual benefits of meditation, staying humble is a by-product of successful meditative practice.
Meditation forces you to feel gratitude for what you have, particularly things that aren’t materialistic. Daily, we all have thoughts that simply pass us by, this could be thinking about our friends, family, or a partner, but meditation forces us to understand how and why we should feel grateful for these people.
With most adults in today's society living such a busy lifestyle, it can be easy to forget about the little things that so many of us take for granted. Whether that is your home, food, or water, one of the key benefits of daily meditation is that it brings you back down to earth and keeps you grounded.
The practice of staying present and feeling appreciation for what you have is what induces many of the spiritual benefits of meditation. You might even find yourself thanking God, or another higher power that you feel connected to.
Meditation and yoga are the perfect partners, so go ahead and read the articles below for guidance on yoga practice:
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#6 Increases Immunity
One of the most valued physical benefits of meditation is that it has positive effects on increasing immunity.
Reviews have suggested that meditation increases the number of CD-4 cells in the body, these cells help in sending signals to other cells, instructing them to kill any infection.
Moreover, the same reviews found that meditation was associated with indications of reduced markers of inflammation. Since high levels of these markers indicate decreased immune function, this could be used as evidence that meditation boosts immunity.
So, if you’re somebody who feels like they have a somewhat low immune system, maybe try to incorporate self-help mechanisms, like meditation, into your daily routine. It could be a good idea to incorporate meditation with yoga practice to improve overall health and in turn, boost your immunity further.
Don’t forget that your diet is a key player in an optimal immune system, so be sure to pair your meditation with the best immunity boosting foods listed here.
#7 Makes You Happier
One of the benefits of meditation that is arguably the most discussed, is the increase in happiness that comes with regular practice.
When practicing meditation, positivity and overall happiness is increased by a combination of factors, one being the practice of gratitude. Sitting with your thoughts and allowing yourself to concentrate on things such as your friends and family can integrate great happiness and appreciation into your everyday life.
Moreover, happiness can stem from meditation and can be induced through a reduction of other factors. There are areas of the brain that prompt a stress response or increase our levels of anxiety, and meditation actually has the power to reduce this.
Whether you want to reap the benefits of meditation for physical health or mental health, the good news is that there is science that backs up both!
To let the positivity reign, why not take a shot at laughter yoga? For some guidance on what this is and how it can help you, read our article: laughter yoga: definition & benefits.
#8 Increases Confidence
By definition, confidence is the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something. Thus, self confidence is having this feeling of faith in every aspect of yourself.
One of the psychological benefits of meditation is that practicing regularly ultimately calms down the negative thoughts that run through your mind. These may be thoughts of insecurity, such as worrying about what people think of you, or the feeling of embarrassment.
However, meditation can ensure that you focus only on the things that matter. In turn, the mind's negative intrusive thoughts are slowly but surely, quietened down. The best route to find self love is to get in touch with your inner-self, one of the most valued benefits of mindful meditation.
This practice intends for you to get to know yourself better, so a good way to compliment your meditation practice is to list the things that you like about yourself, and even ask others what their favourite things about you are! Do this and you’ll soon be thriving in self confidence.
#9 Helps You To Get In Touch With Spirituality
Of course, one of the core spiritual benefits of meditation is that it strengthens the connection with a higher power, whatever that means to the individual who practices. This might be a god, or a belief in a particular energy. There is no restriction on what a higher power can be referred to as it is subjective to the individual.
When you do begin to feel the benefits, you could feel the sense of a presence, awe or transcendence. These feelings can enhance your belief in a higher power and bring great consolation for those suffering from loneliness or simply looking for an extra comfort blanket in their daily life.
What makes the spiritual benefits of meditation unique is the intention behind the practice. During meditation of this kind, there is a goal to connect to a higher power and get in touch with your spirituality, whatever or whoever that may be.
Though the practice may seem intriguing for first timers, it is recommended that you shouldn't force a connection that isn't there yet. A meditative state equates to relaxation and a possible connection to a higher power.
However, it may take more than one session to feel this connection, some may find they feel it right away while others never do. For that reason, this is one of the more subjective psychological benefits of meditation.
#10 Greater Concentration
Among the proven benefits of meditation is the increase in concentration and focus inflicted on the practitioner.
There has been research conducted that claims meditation can increase focus and learning concentration, improve memory and attention span, and promote a better sleep. These are all things that can contribute to a better focus on things like work, school and conversation, so it's clear to see how meditation can benefit concentration.
The general practice of meditating could be described as the repeated process of concentration. In order to conduct meditation successfully, concentration is required on either an object, a thought, or anything that assists you in focusing on one thing at a time.
This continuous practice is bound to intensify the benefits of daily meditation, and the concentration factor can be carried into your everyday life.
As we know, practice makes perfect, so a good tip is to practice focusing on one thing while meditating. You may find that instead of being overwhelmed by thoughts in your everyday life, focusing on the present becomes that much easier.
If you love to meditate, chances are you love yoga! So check out some of the best yoga podcasts to listen to this year, here.
#11 Staying In The Present
One of the great benefits of guided meditation, or any form of meditation for that matter, is the fact that it helps you to stay present in the moment. A lot of anxiety comes from predicting the future and regretting the past, and one of the benefits of meditation for anxiety is that it encourages you to stay in the moment.
This takes practice, but when it's mastered it can reduce anxiety induced thoughts. This is due to the lack of distress that is caused by predicting the future as typically, our brain creates negative predictions.
There is a particular intention that comes with the benefits of mindful meditation, this is the idea of leaving the past behind and not giving any thought to the future circumstances until it greets you.
This notion is the ultimate goal when ridding oneself of any anxiety that has been induced solely through being apprehensive of the future. Staying in the present during meditation also promotes forgiveness and closure, so you can make peace with the past and avoid it becoming a part of your present.
#12 Increases Self-Awareness
Defined as the conscious knowledge of one's own character and feelings, self-awareness encourages a lifestyle where you know your worth, you understand how your feelings work, and you are a present, non-judgemental individual.
Though broadly speaking on the defintion, self-awareness has many factors and is a good indicator of serenity. So as well as the physical health benefits of meditation, you can feel the advantages of self confidence.
Research has seen subjects who meditate regularly, and those new to the practice enter an MRI scanner to practice mindful self awareness. It was found that the neural correlates of mindfulness were more predominant in those who are experienced meditators.
This neural pattern was seen stronger in less depressed, healthier individuals. Therefore indicating that mindful and self-aware individuals could represent a positive mode of self-perception.
Be sure to practice regularly to take advantage of the mental health benefits of meditation, such as this one! To match up your practice with a likewise diet, read our article on the 29 supplements to take your yoga to the next level here.
#13 Enhances Empathy
If you’re still here because you’re wondering ‘what are the benefits of meditation for emotional enhancement?’, we have the answer!
One of the psychological benefits of meditation is improved empathy, the ability to understand the feelings of another person. Being a more empathetic person enhances your perception of feelings and understanding of other people, arguably making you a better person.
To understand the research that has been done thus far on the notion of meditation intensifying empathy, one study looked into the effectiveness of meditation on improving empathy. This saw two groups of participants study images of facial expressions by just looking at images of peoples eyes; the goal was for subjects to distinguish what emotion the eyes were presenting.
Afterwards, one group of participants underwent a meditation training programme and the control group didn’t. Next, both groups of participants took the test again. Researchers found that those who had mediated obtained a 4.6 percent higher score on the empathy test than the control group.
The study showed that meditating and becoming more in touch with your mind increases self awareness, making it almost second nature to try to understand how somebody else feels in everyday life. This is just one example of how research has supported the benefits of meditation!
How Often Should I Meditate?
The answer to this question is subjective to each individual, however, what we can recommend is a sustainable approach. What is meant by this is to implement a meditation routine that you can stick to without it feeling like a chore.
One of the greatest Spiritual benefits of meditation is that you can have a set time per day to focus on you. This should be something that you look forward to rather than dread, so whether you start with 20 minutes a day and work your way up to an hour or more - it completely depends on your attention span and limitations.
A good place to start to get as much of the benefits of daily meditation is with around 10 to 20 minutes per day, and if you can continue until you feel fulfilled, go for it! Don't forget that there is never a set time frame and it could change daily depending on how your day has been, so listen to your body and respond accordingly.
How Can I Find The Time To Meditate?
Making the time to full concentrate on meditating is the only way to reap the benefits of meditation to its fullest extent. A good way to ensure that you don’t skip days is to have a designated time and location to practice your meditation.
This could mean using aids such as crystals and candles to help intensify the spiritual benefits of meditation; having this set up in a designated area of your home will ultimately make the experience more inviting.
It may help to set an alarm to remind you to take time for yourself, or tell a family member to remind you so you don't neglect your own self care because of a busy lifestyle.
Where Can I Meditate?
Meditation is a practice that you can participate in anywhere. Some may prefer a particular environment if you need concentration, or are serious about getting the medical benefits of meditation.
Particularly for those attempting to reap medical benefits, like reducing blood pressure, might want to be in a relaxed environment with minimal distraction, so public places may not be the best choice.
However, for a simple mindfulness exercise and meditation session, you can sit in the park, your bedroom, living room, garden - pretty much anywhere that permits you to sit down in nature or indoors. Some people enjoy getting out in nature to feel the spiritual and physical benefits of meditation a bit more, so try out different locations and see what works best for you.
Before You Go...
Now that you are aware of the most predominant benefits of daily meditation, you can get your practice off to the best start.
Remember, the benefits of meditation don't end there, in fact, there are many more mental and physical advantages that you will begin to feel the more you get into the practice. So, persevere with the process, you may not feel immediate changes but the commitment will be worth your while.
Just one more thing! If you are interested in being a fitness professional, click here and see how our level 3 personal training course can prepare you for an exciting career in the industry. Or, you can browse through our full course prospectus here!
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