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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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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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