8 benefits of meditation
Whether you’re a busy parent ferrying the kids to this club or that club, or you’re watching nervously as those household bills continue to rocket there’s an endless list of worries and woes that make modern life stressful. The daily grind can feel exactly that … a daily grind.
As a way of escaping the hamster wheel many of us are turning to meditation to help, with online apps such as Headspace and Calm seeing a massive increase in sign-ups. According to Google, the number of searches for meditation apps increased by 65% year on year as more and more people recognise the benefits of taking ten minutes out of their day to de-stress.
In fact, since 2015 more than 200 mobile apps have been launched in the sector, with the ten most popular witnessing 52 million downloads in 2019 alone.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
From improving concentration to boosting energy, it helps to restore your body to a state of calm. The practice has been used throughout history as a way of grounding and contemplating. The word itself comes from the Latin term meditatum, meaning “to ponder”; while it is believed to stretch back thousands of years to India where Dhyāna or Jhāna was referenced to as “the training of the mind”.
Today, with mental health issues on the rise, it continues to be heralded for its many wellbeing benefits. Beeja – launched by Will Williams – recently looked into the impact of its own meditation courses and found 94% of participants felt more positive, 87% said it reduced insomnia within three months, and nearly three-quarters experienced an increase in creativity.
HOW DO I DO IT?
The easiest way to start is with focused meditation, where you concentrate on a single object, a calming sound or thought to clear your mind of distractions and negativity. Sit in a relaxed position, in your favourite chair for example, and focus on your breathing – try taking a deep breath in through the nose, hold for four seconds, then breath out, through pursed lips. If you find your mind wandering off, redirect your thoughts back to your breath.
You can start with as little as five minutes each day building up to 20 minute sessions. Just remember to silence your phone and put any devices out of reach.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Decrease stress levels … Meditation affects the body in the opposite way that stress does, triggering your natural relaxation response.
Keep anxiety under control … One study found that eight weeks of mindfulness reduced anxiety symptoms while increasing positive coping methods.
Boost self-awareness … by taking time to focus on yourself you gain a greater understanding of what makes you tick.
Enhance emotional health … it can help train you to have a more positive outlook.
Improve attention … think of it as exercising your mind to improve memory and accuracy.
Better sleeping habits … busy lives can easily spill over into lack of shut eye; by practising what you learn through meditation you can re-focus those 2am panics.
Lower blood pressure … research shows daily meditation is good for heart health.
You can do it anywhere … no need for fancy gym equipment. Stressful commute? Remember those breathing techniques.
The 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said “The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” And who are we to argue.