The Gift Of Meditation by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC
Starting a meditation practice is a wonderful gift to give to yourself and the people in your life. Meditation offers a more structured approach to mindfulness that helps to train the brain to let go of unnecessary thoughts and to focus.
Meditation does not need to be a complicated or lengthy process. Most people start with just a few minutes of meditation a day and work up to longer periods. Using an app or a guided meditation on YouTube or through a meditation or mindfulness program is also a great way to begin your practice.
Regardless of the type of mediation you choose, there are a number of benefits that are associated with the practice. Researchers, scientists, and doctors continue to study the benefits of meditation on patients, from breast cancer survivors to individuals dealing with PTSD and depression.
Many people begin a meditation practice to help reduce stress. Focusing on breathing, letting go of negative thoughts, and being present to experience sensations in the present is linked to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body.
Practicing meditation on a daily basis helps to reduce negative thoughts, irritability, anxiety, and depression. Studies show that people who meditate have lower levels of inflammatory cytokines which helps to reduce depression and anxiety.
Less Distraction and More Focus
Training the mind to be calm and still and focus on the breath or the body helps to build your attention span. Practicing letting go of thoughts and focusing on being present trains the brain to focus when we need it.
Improves Self-Esteem and Compassion for Others
Focusing on positive thoughts about yourself and others, such as breathing and feeling the rhythm of nature around you, creates positive thoughts. Over time, this positivity becomes internalized, helping us to be kinder and more loving towards ourselves and those around us.
Individuals who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep often experience looping or racing thoughts that are typically focused on potential problems in the future or events that have happened in the past.
Using guided meditation before going to sleep helps to focus the brain away from these thoughts while also releasing tension and stress in the body. Together, these can help people fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer.
Meditation is not the practice of banishing thoughts, but rather the focus on controlling the thoughts in your mind. By focusing on positive messages and experiencing sensations in the moment during meditation, we can help our body and minds in countless ways.