Benefits of Meditation and Relaxation
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash
Written by: Sabrina Sourjah
Date Updated: 6/30/2021
Reviewed by: Patrick D. Randolph, Ph.D.
Have you ever tried meditating?
Meditation scares some of us because we think it’s a challenging task only hermits in the Himalayas can do, that you need a certain persona to meditate.
But in today’s world, this is simply not true. There are many types of meditations for us to choose from and so many technological aids like apps and instructive videos to guide us along.
Definition of Meditation
Meditation is the practice of using different techniques — we will go into these techniques shortly — to obtain mental clarity and calmness. It is a practice and takes time to master; there will be many starts and stops along the way.
Most people start meditating for a few minutes initially, and then once they become better at it, the meditation time is lengthened.
Meditation vs. Mindfulness
Meditation is a long-term practice cultivated over time, while mindfulness is a quality that anyone can practice when needed. Mindfulness is an aspect of meditation, but meditation encompasses more techniques.
When you are mindful, you’re fully aware of your surroundings, thoughts, feelings, and people around you. In other words, you are not thinking about the past or future.
Types of Meditation
You have a range of meditation techniques to choose from. You can try each method and see what works best for you.
- Breathing Meditation — In this widely used technique, you focus on your breathing and experience how your chest rises and falls with each breath.
- Gratitude — You can take a few minutes to concentrate on what you’re grateful for in life.
- Visualization — Visualizing a garden or other environment that evokes calmness and fully “being” in that environment can be relaxing.
- Music Healing — Listening to music, especially slow, instrumental rhythms, can make you feel calm and relaxed.
- Mindfulness — You can close your eyes and become fully aware of all the sensations you feel and the sounds you hear.
- Body Scan — Scanning each part of your body, starting with your feet and working your way up to the head, can be a way of becoming aware of how your body is doing.
- Metta Meditation — This technique is all about spreading love and kindness to the world. You start with compassion to yourself and then extend compassion to your family, friends, co-workers, people you dislike, everyone in your city, and so on.
Why Meditation Is Important
1. Overall Health
What does meditation do to your brain? Meditation can help reorganize brain cells for memory retention, release brain chemicals to balance hormones, and control brainwaves. Meditation also lowers blood pressure and heart rate. This leads to a healthy heart and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
2. Surgery Outcomes
After surgery, our immunity needs to be in top form to heal surgical wounds, incisions, and operated internal organs. Research confirms a positive relationship between meditation and increased immunity. This means that meditation can also help with surgery recovery.
3. Mental Health
There is evidence to support a strong connection between mental well-being and meditation. Meditation can help improve depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and ADHD. Relaxation and meditation can decrease the daily stress in our lives and make us calmer as well.
Research has found that when people meditate, they witnessed 30% more activity of telomerase, an enzyme related to the speed of aging. This means that those who meditate can experience a longer lifespan.
In addition, meditation is also connected to maintaining the youthful agility of the brain as you age. For example, scientists have found that meditators between 40 and 50 had “the same amount of gray matter as an average person between 20 and 30 years.”
5. Life Satisfaction
Research has found sleep to be one of the factors that determine life satisfaction. Meditation before bed can lead to better sleep quality. A study found that even ten minutes of guided meditation practiced for two weeks can lead to better sleep quality.
Meditation has many advantages for your health and well-being. If you’re new to meditating, you can start small and try out a few meditation techniques that resonate the most with you.