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10 Benefits of Meditation That You Might Not Know About

10 Benefits of Meditation That You Might Not Know About

We’ve all heard that meditation is good for us, but beyond “It’s relaxing”, we might not be sure exactly why. The truth is that you can experience a multitude of both direct and indirect benefits from meditation, and in this post, we’re going to look at 10 benefits of meditation that you might not know about.

Before we begin, remember that these benefits are best experienced through a regular meditation practice. The length of your practice isn’t as important as the frequency; you’re far more likely to experience the many benefits if you meditate for five to 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week than if you squeeze your meditation into a 30-minute session once a week.

1. It boosts your immune system

One of the most commonly cited benefits of meditation is that it is relaxing. While this is certainly true (and feels great) there are a number of second-hand benefits you can experience as a result of this relaxation. One of these is a stronger immune system. Stress and anxiety wreak havoc with our immune system, leaving us susceptible to all kinds of nasties—particularly during the winter. Developing a regular meditation practice reduces the amount of stress-related chemicals in our body, and also leaves us less likely to turn to unhealthy coping strategies to deal with the stress.

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2. It improves fertility

Just as stress has a negative impact on our immune system, it can also affect our fertility. According to WebMD, scientists aren’t sure of the exact link between stress and fertility issues, however, test subjects that took part in stress-reduction techniques were more likely to get pregnant.

3. It improves stress-related conditions

Stress-related conditions include anything from heart disease to auto-immune conditions such as IBS. While it goes without saying that meditation alone is not a predictor of good health (other lifestyle factors like diet play a huge role), the mind and body are deeply connected. When we feel stress, we have a physiological reaction, which can negatively impact our health over the long term. Giving your body a break from the physical effects of stress can help alleviate physical symptoms exacerbated by stress.

4. It improves self-acceptance

When we meditate, we become more aware of, and more capable of controlling, our thoughts. A key part of meditation revolves around noticing our thoughts without judging them or getting caught up in their stories or meanings. This helps us to develop a different perspective on our internal dialogue, develop a greater understanding of ourselves, and practice noticing our thoughts and feelings without attaching meaning or judgement to them.

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5. It improves self-confidence

Our self-confidence is built on the stories we have about ourselves, so just as meditation helps us develop self-acceptance, it also works to build our self-esteem. When negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves come up during meditation, we practice simply noticing them in the moment. Over time, this leaves us better able to handle negative internal dialogue outside of meditation too.

6. It improves your relationships

Meditation can help improve our relationships in two ways: first, it provides us with time to reconnect with ourselves. The more relaxed, grounded and self-accepting we are, the more we are able to be our best selves with other people. Secondly, meditation also helps develop our awareness of the stories we might hold around our relationships. As well as noticing thoughts and feelings about ourselves, meditation provides us with the opportunity to see stories we have around others from a different perspective too.

7 . It improves creativity

Creative blocks are caused by a number of internal and external factors. Whatever the cause, the result is usually that we get stuck in certain thought patterns, and are unable to move past them. When we’re struggling to break through one of these blocks, taking time to meditate is like hitting the reset button. When we step away from these patterns, we also step out of them, making it easier to move past them.

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8. Pain Relief

A 2011 MIT study showed that meditation might be effective for pain relief. In the study, subjects trained themselves to focus on physical sensations from certain parts of their bodies, leading researchers to believe that people who suffer from chronic conditions could be able to train themselves to “turn down the volume” on pain.

9. It improves concentration

Meditation is essentially a practice in concentration. Once we learn to concentrate on our breath, notice when we get caught up in thoughts, and return our concentration to our breath, we can translate that skill into any number of settings we choose. Through regular meditation, we also get used to shifting our attention back to the task at hand when it strays.

10. It fosters a feeling of “wholeness”

This is probably the most difficult benefit to define, as it’s something that is hard to explain until you have experienced it. The power of spending even a few minutes a day connecting with your body and your mind is not to be underestimated. Doing so produces this innate sense of well-being that could been described as oneness, stability, grounded-ness, a sense of perspective, or self-connection. In a world where most of our time is spent focusing on external activities, taking even a few minutes to reconnect with our internal feelings and sensations can change our experience of the world.

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What benefits have you gained from meditation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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