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Why Meditation is so good for your physical and mental health

If you have followed me for a while, you would know how much I bang on about meditation so read on to understand how the simple daily practice of meditation can benefit your physical and mental state in a plethora of ways!

As we become immersed in the fast-paced nature of life, more and more people are finding themselves stressed out. This stress can have a hugely negative effect on us. Long-term stress raises our heart rate, blood pressure, makes us short tempered and can lead to serious health problems. This is why it is so important to find some form of mindful exercise or activity that we enjoy and look forward to doing every day. Meditation can be done anywhere without any fancy equipment.

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety

Meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety. It can calm the mind, give perspective to problems, and help you access feelings of peace, calmness and self-confidence.

I mean, is there anything more stressful than just being alive in general given the current world climate? When you're overwhelmed by a demanding schedule, a never-ending to-do list, and a heap of emotional baggage, stress can have serious consequences on your health. But with meditation as part of your self care routine, you can gain control over stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular meditation practice can help reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders like PTSD and OCD. It can also lower blood pressure and improve heart disease—one of the leading cause of death in the world!

Several studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on our moods and reduce feelings of anxiety by changing the way the brain responds to stress. Participants who practiced regular meditation noted feeling calmer in difficult situations, such as when stuck in traffic or dealing with annoying co-workers. Meditation also helps you identify negative thinking patterns that lead to stress and anxiety. By recognizing these thought patterns when they arise, you can stop them from escalating into distress or panic over things beyond your control (remember: worrying about things you can’t change is not productive!).

Meditation is good for your gray matter

Did you know that meditation can also increase the density of your brain tissue? It’s true.

Not only does regular meditation improve connections between brain cells, it improves the amount of gray matter in areas associated with learning, memory, and decision-making.

What this means is that meditating will make you better at processing information, making decisions, and regulating emotions—all of which can help you manage stress more effectively.

Meditation will also make you happier on a day-to-day basis and help you feel more fulfilled in life. If you interested in learning more about the scientific benefits of meditation, Bliss Brain by Dr Dawson Church is a must read!

Meditation can reduce age-related memory loss

While research is far from conclusive, it seems as though meditation can slow the rate of age-related memory loss. As we grow older, our bodies produce more cortisol, a stress hormone that has been linked to both depression and memory loss. Meditation reduces the amount of cortisol in your system, helping to relieve stress and anxiety—two factors that may cause you to forget things more often. Meditation can also help you stay focused and give you a better awareness of your surroundings—both of which are useful for retaining information!

Meditation can improve sleep quality.

Meditation can improve sleep quality, as it allows you to relax before bedtime and can help you get to sleep faster. The calmer state of mind you enter during meditation also helps you sleep soundly throughout the night so that when you wake up in the morning, your brain is refreshed.

Having trouble getting to sleep? Meditation can help there too. Stress is a common cause of insomnia, and meditation has been proven to decrease stress levels drastically. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that after just four days of mindfulness meditation training, participants felt less stressed out in their daily lives and had an easier time falling asleep at night. If you are new to meditation, I would recommend doing an immersive 21 day challenge of 8-10 minutes per day.

Meditation helps with addictions and cravings

Meditation is a useful tool for dealing with cravings and addictions. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, smoking, sex or food, addictions are often born from stress and anxiety. By relieving these two factors in our lives, we can make it easier to get rid of addictive behavior. Meditation also helps us improve self-control and deal with pain as well as loss—all three factors that help us overcome our vices.

Meditation leads you to greater self-awareness

Meditation can lead to greater self-awareness. Although the idea of self-reflection might be a turnoff to many people, it’s worth remembering that meditation is not about judgment; it’s about understanding. Through meditation, you can learn more about yourself and your emotions. With greater self-awareness, you can better manage your emotions and thoughts. This can help you recognize when a negative thought pattern or emotion arises so that you can respond in a healthier way—especially during stressful situations like an argument or a tough work meeting.

Meditation brings balance and harmony to the body and mind by making us more aware of ourselves and our surroundings.

Many of us go through our days feeling distracted, unfocused and stressed. Meditation is a good way to gain awareness of yourself and your surroundings. When you meditate, you clear away the information overload that builds up every day and helps you to focus on what's important. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can help you learn how to respond more effectively to stressful situations.

When we practice focusing our attention we learn how to control our thoughts and emotions in healthy ways. Meditation helps us become calmer and more focused by helping us separate ourselves from the thoughts that can cause stress.

Want to give it a go?

There are many different ways to meditate: some people choose guided meditations while others prefer the freeform version. Regardless of how you do it, it's important that you set aside time each day for this practice so that it becomes routine and doesn't get overlooked (as everything else in life seems to).

If you'd like to try it yourself:

  • First, find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed. Then find a comfortable position—either sitting or lying down. Don't worry about getting into any fancy yoga positions unless you're already familiar with them; whatever feels natural will do!

  • Next, begin focusing on your breathing. Take deep breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth. If your mind starts wandering (and it probably will), bring it back to focusing on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling. You should notice feelings of relaxation starting to settle in after just a few minutes!

  • Now, gently close your eyes and picture a big empty space behind your eyes, relax your tongue onto the floor of your mouth, breathe in for 6 seconds and out for 6 seconds. Continue breathing in this way for as long as you like.

  • When you have finished your meditation, open your eyes with soft eyes and simply sit for a few minutes, observing your surroundings. Notice the colours and shapes and the surface that is holding you up.

  • Remember to take a moment to give yourself thanks for honouring your practice and for showing up for yourself.

We can all use a little more peace in our lives. If you haven't already, why not give meditation a try? Our modern world can be noisy and confusing, but simply taking a few minutes out of your day to sit quietly may benefit you in ways that you never expected. With the growing popularity and mainstream acceptance of mindfulness, this is a trend that's here to stay. Meditation might not be for you, but it certainly doesn't hurt to give it a shot!

Until next time, Mon xx

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