In the United States, we often associate “yoga” with the physical practice and various postures of yoga. Frequently, we miss the meditation component that is at the heart of this ancient practice. Unfortunately, when we do this, we lose the opportunity to experience some great health benefits. If you’ve ever asked Why should I meditate?, here are my top five reasons why.
1. It improves brain function.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin discovered that the part of the brain that regulates stress and anxiety shrinks with consistent meditation practice. When this happens, you feel less stressed and anxious. Literally, your meditation practice changes the landscape of your brain to encourage relaxation and happiness.
Also, when you take the time to empty your mind and let it have a break, you are basically allowing yourself to reboot. This helps you have clearer thoughts, and it improves your memory.
2. It helps you relax.
Aside from changing the landscape of your brain, the practice of meditation also encourages calmness. Because one of the main points of meditation is to live moment to moment, meditators train themselves to remain calm, even during stressful situations.
Meditation also benefits people struggling with depression or insomnia.
3. People who meditate are happier than others.
According to Mindoworks.com,
“People who meditate generally lead happier lives than those who don’t. Meditation is known to enhance the flow of constructive thoughts and positive emotions. Even a few minutes spent meditating regularly can make a big difference. Scientific evidence supports this claim: extensive studies were conducted on a group of Buddhist monks as they were meditating. The pre-frontal cortex of the monks’ brains (the part associated with happiness) was found to be extra active.”
4. There is a huge return on investment.
Even people who spend a very short amount of time meditating feel the benefits. In fact, some people note that almost as soon as they take a seat, they start feeling calmer.
At the very least, taking the time to breathe will help oxygenate your blood, relax your mind and body, focus your thoughts, and activate your core muscles.
5. It increases your mindfulness.
By increasing your mindfulness, you start to be more aware of your environment. You start to more objectively see what is happening around you–the things other people are saying and doing. However, you also gain a deeper insight into what’s going on in your own mind.
Sometimes, we unintentionally tell ourselves nasty things. A vicious inner monologue can lead to self-esteem issues, pain, dysfunctional relationships, and eating issues.
When you become aware of the things you and other people say and do, you can start making appropriate changes to help you with your issues.
How to Practice Meditation
Meditation doesn’t have to be a time-consuming activity. Any time that you find that you have a small break, practice meditation. When you’re in traffic or waiting for your computer to boot, take some deep breaths and practice clearing your mind.
Get comfortable and try to clear your mind. As different thoughts arise, acknowledge them, and send them on their way.
Over time, your meditation skills will increase. You will discover that it becomes easier to send stray thoughts on their way and to keep a clear mind for longer periods of time.
Just keep practicing. If you’d like, you can work on making your practices longer. By increasing the duration, you increase the challenge of your meditation.
Do you have any tips for meditation? Let us know in the comments below.
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