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May 25, 2021

The Genuine Art of Meditation for Your Mental Health

We live in a world that makes us think all the time. While we're not born with critical thinking, we develop it with age and worldly experience.

Thinking is helpful in all aspects of life. However, there are times when the mind becomes overly active. We start to have too many thoughts that are hard to break away from, causing stress. When the mind doesn’t have adequate rest, it negatively affects both physical and mental health. 

To prevent this, one can learn the art of meditation. Aside from a long history as a means of relaxation, meditation has proven effective in reducing the physical and mental effects of stress. 

The Concept of Meditation: What Is and What Isn't

Meditation is a technique that helps increase focus and awareness levels. It usually includes a quiet space, a comfortable position, an open attitude, relaxed breathing, and focus.

Meditation is widely practiced in various cultures. It has been practiced for thousands of years; naturally, facts and speculations have been added and mixed up in the process. Below is an overview of the myths and the truths.

What meditation is:

  • It is often used in religious practices, but you can meditate regardless of any spiritual beliefs. 
  • There are various types of meditation. Concentration, mindfulness, spiritual, transcendental, zen, yoga, and many more!
  • You're not defined by being good or bad at meditating. Anyone can do it. You have to find a way to work with your thoughts to succeed.

What meditation isn't:

  • Sitting is required to meditate.
  • You have to be a part of a religion or live by a particular philosophy to meditate.
  • Meditation takes hours.
  • Meditation is selfish.
  • There's only one right way to meditate.
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What are the Benefits of Meditation on Mental Health?

Meditation has a huge and positive impact on our mental health. It exercises the brain’s ability to focus and process information, helps in dealing with stress, and promotes healthy emotions. Various studies below have proven meditation’s capability to help nurture and improve an individual’s mental well-being. 

Brain Health Improvement

Studies show the various benefits of meditation to the brain. Some of these include:

  • Improvement of the ability to process information: A study analyzed brain images of adults who meditate and don't meditate. The results show that those who meditate develop more brain folds than those who don't. Brain folds increase our cognitive abilities in a process called gyrification.
  • Sharper concentration: A 2007 study showed that meditation improves our focus and awareness of thoughts. Since meditating requires attention to your thoughts and feelings, doing it helps improve the way you focus.
  • Slowing down cognitive decline: A study connecting brain ageing and meditation suggests that improved focus, flexibility, and cognition slows down the effects of age-related cognitive decline. 
  • Improving memory: The sharper your focus, the better your memory works. They are all part of the grey matter, composed of the brain's neuronal cell bodies. When it comes to people with memory problems, meditation has shown to reverse memory loss. 
  • Improved pain response:. People who meditate tend to have greater activation of brain areas that act in response during pain. 

Reduced Amount of Stress

Meditation helps organize the messy stream of your thoughts. Since it helps you relax, the chaos brought by stress reduces. Stress is the root of many health conditions: anxiety, panic attacks, depression, low blood pressure, heart problems, and more. Meditation helps you manage stress better and prevents physical and mental damage. 

Ensures a Good Night’s Sleep

One of the major causes of sleeping problems is a stress hormone called the cortisol. When we lose control of the things going on in our heads, it causes stress and prevents the body from conditioning itself to sleep. Through meditation, cortisol is reduced, and melatonin levels increase, which help you get a good night’s sleep.

A study also found that meditation is effective for people who experience insomnia—those who practice mindfulness meditation experience less insomnia, depression, and fatigue with just six sessions.

Emotional Wellness

Negative emotions root from the stressful thoughts that pile up in your head. As you meditate, you're clearing yourself away from chaos. By doing this, you can reduce negative emotions, discover new outlooks towards difficult situations, and develop skills in managing stress. 

Meditation 101: How to Start Meditating

Now that you have gained a clear understanding of meditation and its connection to mental health, let's discuss how you can start becoming more mindful. Note that there's more than one way of meditation, so the activities might differ across the board. Below are some simple ways to start meditating.

Find a safe and comfortable place

Look for the perfect location. More than a quiet space, seek a safe and comfortable place. What kind of setting puts you in the mood to meditate? It could be a corner in a cafe or a spot in the park. Some people meditate in nature while some prefer to be in their homes. You can meditate anywhere as long as it helps you get started.

Practice breathing techniques

Relax your breathing before delving into your thoughts. Inhale, exhale. Breathe deeply. Repeat until you feel steady enough. Breathing also helps return your focus whenever your attention wanders. 

Be in the present moment with mindfulness

Mindfulness is one of the most prominent meditation techniques. To be mindful means to focus on the present moment without judgment. Absorb the situation you are in right now and acknowledge it as it is.

This type of meditation helps you feel less overwhelmed in any situation. You can absorb a moment without letting it get into your head. Let go of unnecessary thoughts and focus on the things that truly matter. 

Use art to accompany your relaxation

Art has its way of healing exhausted souls. Make use of music, literature, or other forms of art that you find inspiring and relaxing. Art helps you perceive the world with beauty, and it can help you reflect on life as well.

Wear your meditation

What you wear can matter when you meditate. It's not about wearing something grand and flashy. What we mean is that you should wear comfortable clothes and accessories. That way, you can prevent any distractions. A great example is Mental Health Awareness clothing. Aside from comfort, it has a motivating message printed on it to remind you to be mindful.

There are various clothing and accessories suitable for meditating. It depends on your preference, so the choice is endless. There are meditation shirts that are perfect for meditating (our favorite is this Heavily Meditated shirt), comfortable yoga pants, meditation socks, and so much more. For accessories, there are chakra bracelets, yoga pillows, zen-inspired decorations, to name a few. 

group meditation mental health image

Meditate with someone

Don’t think you have to go through this alone. Meditating with someone or a group of people strengthens your relationships with them. Some people are motivated when they perform activities with other people. Many meditation programs from all over the world encourage group sessions. Some of these groups even wear mental health t-shirts or spiritual t-shirts as a trademark. Wearing shirts with spiritual quotes on them is a way of spreading the word and encouraging everyone in the group to stay focused.

Conclusion

The mind is just as important as the body. It also needs regular care. If you have an exercise routine for a healthy body, spend some time meditating for a healthy mind too. Make a warm and safe place for your stream of thoughts, and improve your life.

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