The Benefits of Meditation: Getting Blissed Out
We've all heard the benefits of meditation: it can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing, and help us increase self-awareness. As a person who struggles with anxiety, I found meditation difficult in the beginning. I wanted to relax, but my mind continually wandered to all the things I needed to do. My body was fidgety, and I worried I was doing it wrong. I brought my concerns to my meditation teacher who helped me see you don't have to meditate perfectly to reap the many benefits of meditation.
Benefits of Mediation Include Increased Focus
Meditating imperfectly is a benefit of meditation because it helps us to improve focus. I learned that when my teacher told me it's normal for your mind to wander off during meditation. She encouraged me to gently bring my focus back any time I noticed my mind wandering. The real interruption happened when I criticized myself for getting off track. She said that bringing myself back to focus peacefully and without judgment would not interrupt the flow of my meditative practice. Moreover, responding to myself in this way can improve my ability to stay focused.
I also learned I can improve my focusing abilities outside my meditation practice. One of the benefits of meditation is it helps us control our thoughts instead of our thoughts controlling us. I can practice controlling my thoughts by mindfully focusing on what I am doing at the moment. For example, if I'm washing my hair, I can choose to only focus on the task at hand. Rather than thinking about all the things I must do that day, I can focus on the scent of my shampoo, the temperature of the water, and the consistency of my sudsy hair in my hands. Just like during meditation, if my mind wanders off, I gently bring it back to the present moment.
Meditation Benefits Your Physical and Mental Health
As I became less judgmental of myself while meditating, I began to feel more of the benefits. I noticed my attention span improved at work and I experienced less job-related stress. I found I could take a minute or two throughout the day and do a quick meditation to reduce my anxiety levels. I've even started using meditation in bed at night to help my body get into a relaxed state and fall asleep easier.
These are the benefits I've noticed, but there are many other well-documented benefits of meditation. In the article, "12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation",1 Dr. Matthew Thorpe explains how meditation can help people struggling with addiction, reduce pain, decrease blood pressure, and slow age-related memory loss. Watch my video below to learn how meditation can also promote kindness.
I found it beneficial to begin my meditation practice using guided meditation; that is, listening to someone guide me through a visualization. There are several phone applications with an abundance of guided meditations. I have found many free guided meditations by doing a google search. You can find meditations on virtually any topic from meditations for anxiety to meditations for sleep. I'm so glad I stuck with my meditation practice during the initial awkward phase. The benefits of meditation have been profound for me and certainly worth the effort.
- Thorpe, Matthew M.D., Ph.D., "12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation". Healthline. July 5, 2017.
Psy.D., H. (2018, November 14). The Benefits of Meditation: Getting Blissed Out, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2018/11/the-benefits-of-meditation-getting-blissed-out