Mental Health and Meditation

The Benefits of Practicing Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice, and thanks to social media, it met its’ peak in mainstream popularity over recent years. Increasing amounts of statistical evidence have also aided in its claim to fame. Multiple studies point to the fact that meditation – while a seemingly simple practice – increases our sense of health and wellbeing in many ways. To put it in simple terms, meditation is a mental exercise that trains our attention and awareness. Why is this important? When we spend copious amounts of time either shaming ourselves over a past moment or worrying about a future moment, we miss out on experiencing the moments happening right now or in the present. This constant cycle of fear, shame, and guilt becomes a cocktail for anxiety and depression. Meditation is a valuable tool for putting a stop to this cycle.

If the thought of meditation seems daunting and formidable, you’re not alone. Many people have a hard time making meditation a regular practice. Oftentimes, we overcomplicate the process or have a poor understanding of its’ purpose, which could lead you to believe it’s difficult. In the beginning, you might spend a lot of time worrying about getting it ‘right’. I’m here to tell you, there is no ‘right’ way to meditate. Meditation is challenging, but not because it’s complicated. It’s not always easy to sit with our uncomfortable emotions and face ourselves head on. There’s a reason we resort to fear and worry. However, if you have time to worry, you have time to meditate. Meditation has an extensive list of benefits, and below are just a few of them.

Improved Focus

There’s no denying the struggle to focus on one task for an extended period of time. Who would’ve thought sitting for 10 minutes uninterrupted could be so uncomfortable? Don’t worry, it gets easier. Studies show that meditation can do wonders for our attention span. Your mind is a muscle, and meditation is the strenuous exercise. If you can sit in discomfort for one, five, or ten minutes at a time daily, you can do just about anything.

Better Sleep

Chronic stress and anxiety can do a lot of damage to our sleep cycles. When we learn to relax our mind and body through meditation, it eventually gets easier to quiet the distracting thoughts that keep us up at night. Our heart rates slow down and we feel a sense of calm. Over time, a regular meditation practice also increases our natural melatonin levels, which leaves us with a more restful sleep.

Building stress management skills

Life is full of stressful situations and experiences, but how we handle those situations can end up doing more harm than the stress itself. Aggressive behavior, substance abuse and binge eating are all negative ways to cope with stress. Studies show that meditation increases our tolerance to stress and reduces our reactivity. You’ll also find that it increases your tolerance and patience towards other people.

Increased Self-Awareness

We can’t process our feelings if we don’t first acknowledge them. When we don’t acknowledge our thoughts and feelings, they don’t just go away. Instead, it causes us to act out in ways we wouldn’t normally choose to. Meditation is a space where we learn a lot about ourselves. Over time, we gain a better understanding of our behavior and get a chance to decide what thoughts are worth reacting to and which ones we feel we can let go. With this increased self-awareness, you learn how to use your energy and time wisely and more efficiently.

Fights Both Physical and Mental Illness

When practiced regularly, meditation has a profound effect on the immune system. Several studies show that regular meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, and lessens or erases symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

Different Types of Meditation

There are so many different ways to meditate, which to some might sound daunting, but it helps to know there’s something out there for everyone. It doesn’t matter which type of meditation you choose, as long as you choose a modality that resonates with you. Guided or not, sound or no sound, meditation can and should be as simple or complicated as you see fit. Whether you just want to sit with your thoughts or focus on a certain skill, with consistency, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of a meditation practice. Here are just a few of the most common types of meditations.

Need Help?

We live in a busy and chaotic world. Meditation can feel nearly impossible if you’re too caught up in your thoughts and the stress of everyday life. Sitting with your thoughts and feelings can feel like an existential trap. If you struggle with severe symptoms of anxiety and depression, this might sound familiar to you. If this sounds like you, our counselors and psychologists want to help.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you. Our Psychologists and Counselors specialize in psychotherapy (in-person and online teletherapy options). Our psychologists also specialize in psychological testing in-person at our DFW (Southlake) Offices. Our psychiatrists offer specialized psychiatric services in-person and telepsychiatry online to all residents of Texas. If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are available to help.

 

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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