Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries and is practiced by a wide variety of traditions, religions, and people across the world.
It is estimated that between 200 and 500 million people practice meditation regularly.
As more data is collected, more benefits of meditation are being brought to the surface, giving us an opportunity to give these simple, diverse, and accessible practices the space they deserve in self-care and well-being practices.
As a yoga and meditation teacher who utilizes these techniques on a daily basis, I have been able to explore and embody many of the benefits of meditation through years of practice. I recommend everyone to give these practices a try, you really don’t need any experience!
In this article:
- What meditation is
- Common meditation styles
- 8 benefits of meditation
Let’s dive right in.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its numerous scientifically-tested benefits for mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
It involves quieting the mind and focusing on the present moment, enabling individuals to experience a sense of calm, clarity, and inner peace.
From reducing stress and anxiety to improving focus and creativity, meditation presents a plethora of benefits for those who incorporate it into their daily routine.
Common Meditation Styles
There are many styles of meditation, each one with its techniques and characteristics.
Here are some of the most common styles used to reap its benefits:
1# Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment.It is a way of training your mind to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, without getting caught up in them.
2# Guided Meditation
A style of meditation with many benefits that’s especially great for beginner meditators is guided meditation.
With the guidance of an experienced teacher, you’ll be invited to follow their live or recorded voice and be led into a meditative experience. This is where you may want to try and explore the best meditation app for you, with many apps having guided meditations.
It is very accessible for beginners since it helps you focus on the voice and let go of the outside noise with more ease, experiencing the benefits of meditation sometimes right away.
3# Mantra Meditation
The benefits of meditation with mantras are many; a mantra is a Sanskrit word that means “tool of the mind.”
Mantras are used in many different spiritual traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Yoga. The main benefits of meditation with mantras are to focus the mind and to create a sense of peace and tranquility.
There are many different mantras that can be used. Some popular mantras include:
- Om mani padme hum
- Om gam ganapataye namaha
- So hum
- I am love
- I am peaceful
- I am strong
- I am healthy
- I am grounded
Consider reading more about mantras here.
4# Visualization Meditation
In this style of meditation, you’ll be using your imagination to create a positive image or scene in your mind.
From a peaceful scene in nature to an intention you’re wanting to explore, visualization meditation is a great way to relax and de-stress, and also to harness your creative side.
5# Vipassana Meditation
In the Pali language, Vipassana means “to see things as they truly are” which is the basis for this style of meditation. When practicing Vipassana and enjoying the benefits of meditation through its lens, you’ll be invited to observe your body and mind without judgment.
It is a way of training your mind to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without getting caught up in them as we tend to do in our hectic daily lives.
6# Qiqong Meditation
Qigong is a practice that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to improve health and well-being.
It is based on the belief that there is a vital energy, called qi, that flows through the body.
When qi is flowing smoothly, the body is healthy and balanced. However, when qi becomes stagnant or blocked, it can lead to illness and disease.
One of the key benefits of meditation techniques like Qigong is that it helps to improve the flow of qi through the body by combining slow, gentle movements with focused breathing and mental concentration.
8 Benefits of meditation
Although the benefits of meditation are too many to count, and we continue to unveil more of them as science explores the different styles and techniques, in this article we will explore 8 such benefits of meditation and how they can positively impact your life.
Remember that meditation has cumulative effects and that the more often you practice, the more you will be able to experience the benefits of meditation in your life.
1# Reduces symptoms of stress
Meditation has been shown to reduce physical symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension, headaches, and chronic pain.
When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can increase blood pressure and heart rate, and meditation can help lower cortisol levels in the body, reducing the effects of stress.
2# Improves sleep
For those with insomnia or with a tendency to have disrupted sleep or difficulty falling asleep, meditating before bedtime can help you relax and promote better slumber. Regular meditation may help harmonize the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to more restful sleep.
Some studies have suggested that meditation can increase melatonin production, which could lead to better sleep.
Yoga Nidra is one of the best meditative practices to induce sleep and regulate your circadian rhythms.
3# Promotes mindfulness
Mindfulness, besides being its own style of meditation, is the practice of being present in the moment and non-judgmentally observing your experiences.
One of the many benefits of meditation is that it can help you develop mindfulness, allowing you to observe stressful thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them.
4# Boosts mood
Meditation has been shown to boost positive emotions, which can counteract the negative effects of daily life stressors as well as mild symptoms of depression.
It can help you regulate and reduce stress and anxiety by increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming the body down.
5# Enhances resilience
Stressful situations are unavoidable, but another one of the benefits of meditation is that it can help you build resilience and cope better with difficult situations and feelings.
By cultivating a mindful and calm mind, you’re better equipped to handle difficult situations and manage stress.
6# Increases focus and concentration
Meditation can help improve focus and concentration in a number of ways. It can help to:
- Reduce distractions: Meditation can help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to learn how to let go of distractions. This can make it easier to focus on the task at hand.
- Increase attention span: by training your mind to focus on one thing at a time, practicing meditation can be helpful to practice right before tasks that require sustained attention, such as studying or working.
- Improve memory: Meditation can help improve your memory by increasing the activity of the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory formation.
- Reduce stress: Stress can make it difficult to focus and concentrate. Meditation can help to reduce stress by calming the mind and body.
- Increase relaxation: Meditation can help to increase relaxation by promoting a state of calm and peace. This can make it easier to focus and concentrate.
7# Reduced blood pressure
Stress and anxiety are known to increase blood pressure, and meditation helps reduce the levels of stress and anxiety hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, thereby lowering blood pressure.
Meditation has also been found to improve the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels, which also influences blood pressure.
8# Enhances creativity
Another of the great benefits of meditation is that, with practice, it can increase your openness to new experiences and perspectives, allowing you to tap into your imagination and explore new ideas.
There are many benefits to meditation, and depending on why you choose to meditate, you can explore different styles of meditation, each with its set of benefits.
For example, a student struggling to focus may find that only a few minutes of meditation before a study session helps them become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and let go of distractions.
On the other hand, if you’re a worker feeling overwhelmed by the daily to-do list and workload, you may find that guided meditation helps you relax and de-stress.
A person who is struggling with anxiety may use a mantra to help them to calm their mind and body.
Remember that the benefits of meditation are cumulative; the more you practice, the more benefits you’ll reap.
If you’d like to explore a few of these benefits of meditation and try out a wide variety of teachers and styles, right at your fingertips, read about the best meditation app next.