When we think about our well-being, we often think about physical exercise and other forms of recreation. While it is important to focus on our physical well-being, there needs to be an equal emphasis on our mental well-being. If we do not take care of our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, we are more likely to experience negative consequences such as poor mental health and illness. One of the best ways to take care of our mental health and well-being is through the use of meditation.
What is Meditation?
In its simplest definition, meditation is a mental practice in which people engage in exercises that help increase relaxation, clarity, and awareness. As physical activity promotes physical well-being and health, meditation promotes psychological well-being and health. Meditation is a solitary practice and is done in a seated position and usually with eyes closed.
When people engage in meditative practice, they do so in three distinct ways:
- Concentration: where practitioners focus their attention on a single object, and it can be internal or external
- Observation: where practitioners focus their attention on whatever is predominant and in the present moment while being sure they don’t remain fixated on one particular thing.
- Awareness: where practitioners allow their consciousness to remain in the present moment. While in this state, they must be undistracted and must work on creating stillness in their mind without spending time focusing or observing thoughts that enter into consciousness.
While meditation often involves group practice in a retreat setting, it is still an individual practice, and the focus should be on self-reflection. Also, it is essential to note that meditation practices do not always involve sitting and closing one’s eyes. There are ways to meditate that include movement, specific breathing techniques, or keeping your eyes open.
Is Meditation Easy?
Some people may be hesitant to incorporate meditation into their daily routine. Most of the time that hesitance is due to thoughts that meditation is complex and requires extensive training. Fortunately, many meditative techniques, such as focused breathing, are relatively easy to master. While meditation does require complete focus and concentration, people can start with as little as five minutes and gradually work their way up to more extended periods of practice.
While it is recommended to engage in mediation during the morning hours, it can be done anytime during the day when people have some downtime. No matter the meditation practice, it is important to find a quiet space with no outside distractions. If performing any sitting form of meditation, good upright posture is crucial. Sitting meditation practices can be done with a chair, yoga mat, or cushion.
The Benefits of Meditation for Well-Being
When people make meditation part of their daily routine, it will provide numerous benefits to their overall mental health and well-being. One distinct advantage of meditation is the improved sense of well-being and the ability to improve focus during daily activities. Since meditation practice helps people remain focused on the here and now when thoughts drift, it will help people to focus on the present when not in practice.
Meditation also helps people feel less anxiety. This powerful practice helps increase neuroplasticity, which can help to reshape thought and behavior patterns. That is part of the brain that processes information about oneself and one’s surroundings. When a stressful or upsetting situation arises, it triggers a strong reaction that can create fear and panic. With meditation, some of those neural connections get “pruned.” As a result, people can feel calmer and more collected during stressful situations.
Because of the weakening of some of these neural connections, people who practice meditation regularly feel less stress. Additionally, studies have shown that meditation changes brain wave patterns so that distractions can be minimized or tuned out. As a result, people can experience better memory and have better store and recall information. Consistent meditation practice also has been linked to an increase in gray matter growth in the brain. Increased gray matter can provide a benefit to cognitive, immune, and emotional responses.
Find the Meditation Approach that Fits You
Incorporating mediation in your daily life is easier than you think. If you are interested in this ancient but effective practice, many meditation techniques are simple to learn and take up little of your time. As you grow in your meditation practice, you can look incorporating other techniques to bolster your daily regimen. The sky is the limit.