What Are the Real Benefits of Meditation?

Forget the cliché advice on why you should meditate; here’s what you really stand to gain from the experience. 

Whether you’re a firm believer in the benefits of meditation or you’re the type to yawn at the mere idea of sitting still for so long, experts and laymen alike have long touted the practice. It doesn’t matter if you meditate by way of strict ritual or just sit quietly and reflect on your day;...

Whether you’re a firm believer in the benefits of meditation or you’re the type to yawn at the mere idea of sitting still for so long, experts and laymen alike have long touted the practice. It doesn’t matter if you meditate by way of strict ritual or just sit quietly and reflect on your day; even a few minutes of peace and quiet are beneficial to your overall health.

One of the great things about meditation is that you don’t need to “schedule” it. If you have a brief moment to yourself, just take the chance to clear your mind and push away all the negative things that might be getting you down at the moment. You don’t even have to “om” your way through a mediation – in fact, words aren’t really needed at all. Simply take a moment to focus on your breathing. Slow, deep breathing can help release tension.

If you need more than just quietly emptying your mind, and if you have a bit more time, guided meditation is a great alternative. You can listen to others’ guidance or create your own experience. Simply imagine a scene that relaxes you; that brings you peace. Maybe it’s a walk in the park or near a lake, or sitting on a beach. The specifics don’t really matter, so long as you can experience the benefits of it.

But now that we’ve considered methods, let’s take a look at what some experts have to say about the practice of meditation.

There was a study published in 2002 about a survey that was sent to more than 7,000 doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, which questioned their views on meditation. Many didn’t respond – in fact only around 1,200 offered opinions – but those that did responded favorably. Many also endorsed prayer as a credible practice, but the majority indicated a strong belief in the benefits of meditation.

Additionally, an assistant professor at John Hopkins identified nearly fifty clinical trials that studied meditation and its effects on people who were diagnosed with health problems. Many of the trials consisted of comparisons between meditation and cognitive therapy. The studies found that mindful meditation helped to alleviate pain, and also eased anxiety and depression.

Meditation has been proven to reduce stress, improve creativity, and help you focus. It can help you ride out an anxiety or panic attack, improves concentration and attention, and can even help with addiction. It’s been discovered that those who practice meditation can quit smoking faster than those who don’t.

Perhaps the absolute best aspect of meditation is that it’s so adaptable. If you only have a minute or two between tasks, simple breathing exercises are great. More time means the option of more guided meditations. And while some methods may work for others, they may not work for you, but you can experiment and find what does work. It can be literally anything, so long as it provides the benefits you’re looking for. Whether you need to de-stress, or just want to relax and clear your mind for a few moments, there’s a meditation method that can help. Enjoy the experience, try however many options you need to until you find one that works, and then enjoy the benefits. You’ll be glad you did.

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