Originally used as a means for spiritual enlightenment, meditation has grown to become a common, widespread practice. In fact, an estimated 200-500 million people regularly meditate. Read on to learn about some of the reasons this practice is so beneficial.
Meditation is a way of increasing our self-awareness by learning to become curious, nonjudgmental observers of our internal experiences. By consistently incorporating meditation into your daily routine, you’ll find that it can:
- Improve your perspective by empowering you to become an observer of thoughts, emotions and body sensations, rather than a victim of these natural occurrences. Try this perspective meditation from Insight Timer.
- Decrease stress by freeing up mental resources and lowering levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has helped thousands. Read more about it in his book Full Catastrophe Living.
- Enhance attention. Psychologist Daniel Goleman shares in this video how meditation can help focus the wandering mind.
- Promote compassion and kindness. For a loving kindness meditation, click here.
- Reduce psychological distress. Studies suggest that meditation can produce moderate improvement in anxiety and depression as part of a comprehensive mental health treatment plan.
Now, let us dispel a few common myths that are often cited as reasons for avoiding meditation.
Myth: I should be able to clear my mind during meditation.
Reality: Wandering of the mind is inevitable, but judgment of this occurrence is optional. With meditation, you can learn to take a nonjudgmental stance when it comes to internal experiences.
Myth: I must be silent and seated in a perfect position to gain the benefits of meditation.
Reality: There is no one “right” way to practice meditation. Some people prefer walking meditation, yoga meditation or mantra meditation just to name a few. This article describes some common meditation techniques for beginners.
Myth: I just don’t have the time to meditate.
Reality: Choosing to set aside even five or 10 minutes per day for meditation can be the most productive time in your routine. If you consider the many benefits you stand to gain, prioritizing meditation can pay dividends. If you have time to shop online, read the news or scroll through social media, you have time to meditate.