People used to think that meditation (or the process of training the mind to focus on the breath) was only something that monks, gurus, or hermits did in mountaintop temples or caves. But in recent years, practitioners of conventional medicine have also begun to prescribe mindful breathing techniques as a means of improving one’s mental health.
Here are 5 science-based benefits of meditation:
- Reduces stress. When you focus your attention on your breath, you eliminate the jumbled and stress-inducing thoughts that are running around your head.
- Controls anxiety. By focusing on your breathing, you are directing your mind to the safe present, instead of to an uncertain future.
- Promotes emotional health. Meditation teaches us that we are like bystanders standing on the sidewalk, and that the cars passing by in front of us are our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Instead of forcing ourselves to run with the cars/emotions (which may cause stress, anxiety, and depression), we should simply acknowledge that they exist, then allow them to go by without making any judgements.
- Lengthens attention span. Meditation is all about grounding and becoming aware of the “now”. The practice trains your brain to focus instead of wander.
- Can make you more empathic. When you are calmer and less anxious, you become less irritable and short-tempered. You also develop more positive thoughts and feelings about yourself.
Meditation is to the mind what exercise is to the body. If you want to give it a try but don’t know how to go about it, apps like Headspace and Calm are beginner-friendly places to start. Good luck and don’t forget to inhale, exhale!
Written by Jacq of MindNation