Meditation has numerous scientifically-backed benefits. It can help support both a healthy body and a healthy mind.
Meditation is a combination of focus, awareness, and relaxation. It might involve focusing on a single thought or sensation, such as your breathing (this is often called mindfulness) or it might involve keeping your mind open and curious to whatever is true for you in the moment (this is often called open monitoring meditation.)
Meditation has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years, and by cultures all over the world. Almost every major religion includes some form of meditation in its traditions, but meditation can also be practiced independently of any religious or spiritual beliefs.
Here are five great reasons to include a regular meditation practice in your life—and how to start.
Reduce your stress levels
According to the American Institute of Stress, around a third (33%) of American adults report feeling extreme stress. Our busy modern lifestyles enable stress to thrive, and stressful circumstances—from personal problems to global crises like the Covid-19 pandemic—can worsen stress even more.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and help relieve stress-related symptoms, from troubled sleep to irritable bowel syndrome.
Get to know yourself better
Meditation is about sitting quietly with yourself, your breath, your body, and your thoughts. It can help you learn more about yourself and your thought processes, identifying patterns that are harming you or holding you back. And when you understand yourself, you are better equipped to take steps to help yourself.
Get more and better sleep
According to the Sleep Foundation, around half of Americans say they feel tired during the day at least three times per week. Insomnia is incredibly common and can be debilitating. Studies have shown that meditation can help reduce insomnia and increase time spent asleep.
Meditation helps to relax your body and mind, releasing tension and reducing the intrusive thoughts that can make it hard to fall asleep.
Control chronic pain
Some studies have shown that meditation can help control and reduce pain. It can release endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain killers. It can also help you to relax, increase your pain tolerance, and lower the release of stress hormones into your body.
Free and readily available
Meditation costs nothing and you can do it anywhere! You don’t need any special clothes, equipment, or classes to get started and incorporate meditation into your life.
How to get started
Start by meditating for just a few minutes. Sit or lie comfortably, set a timer, and focus on breathing normally. Don’t worry if you fidget or find it hard to focus at first. If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to the present moment.
If you would prefer guidance to help you learn to meditate, you can use a free app like InsightTimer or find guided meditations on Youtube.
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