Supporting a healthy mind with daily meditation can have wondrous benefits for a healthy body. This ancient spiritual practice can bring a number of physical and mental benefits, including feeling more relaxed, sleeping better, better managing stress, and thinking more clearly.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a general term for the practice of focusing on a specific element, of the environment or of your own body. People who meditate often concentrate on their breathing, or meditate on sacred objects to distract themselves from intrusive thoughts and feelings. Sometimes people meditate on parts of their body, as a means of achieving mindfulness or specifically to help manage chronic pain.
Psychology Today defines mindfulness as a state of active, open attention on the present. Mindfulness meditation is a period of focusing on the present, observing thoughts and feelings pass by without judging them or trying to regulate them.
Meditation Can Help Manage Your Moods
Scientific research shows that meditation can increase your sense of well-being in a few ways. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed 47 meditation studies published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine and found that meditation is good for managing anxiety, depression, and pain. The review shows that regular mindfulness meditation had a moderate effect on those things. The reviewers also found that meditation has a weak, but statistically significant effect, on stress reduction.
Meditation Can Help With Pain
The Johns Hopkins review also found that meditation is moderately helpful in pain management. Research shows that mindfulness meditation can reduce chronic pain by up to 57%. How? Brain imaging studies show that the brain waves that signal pain tend to flatten out in a meditating patient. Hospital pain clinics prescribe mindfulness meditation for patients with a range of chronic pain conditions too. Patients suffering from back pain, celiac disease, side effects of chemotherapy, migraines, and multiple sclerosis have all been prescribed mindful meditation.
Meditation Can Help Manage Diseases
Stress reduction is a primary benefit of meditation, according to advocates. Some research suggests that psoriasis and fibromyalgia sufferers can reduce their symptoms by meditating.
Regular meditation can also promote positive changes in the body, changes that can contribute to better long-term health. For example, an article at WebMD notes that regular meditation has been shown to decrease blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.
Making Meditation a Daily Habit
How do you start to incorporate mediation into your daily life? Start your day with five to 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation. Sit up in bed and just relax. Don’t try to think of anything. Let thoughts come and go without trying to shake them off or examine them. Try for a longer meditation session, of 20 to 30 minutes, if you can manage it.
The time of day is not important, but being consistent is. Meditating for 20-30 minutes a day is more likely to become a habit if you schedule it every morning, or every evening just before bed.