What is meditation?
Meditation is about becoming more aware of your surroundings and gaining a healthy, new perspective on everything. You are not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings while meditating. You are learning to observe them without judgement as you get better with each meditation. Over time, you may start to understand each thought better.
While you are meditating, you are practicing mindfulness. Being mindful is the ability to be present, to be in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever you are doing in the moment.
Meditation is a habit and a skill. Learning to meditate is similar to learning any other skill. It takes consistent practice before you get completely comfortable with doing it. It’s also usually easier if you have someone guiding you along the way.
There is no such thing as the perfect meditation. Sometimes while meditating, your mind will wander off or maybe you will forget to follow your breath. That’s normal, it’s all a part of the experience. What’s most important is to meditate consistently. It’s one of those things where the journey is more important than the destination.
It takes time to get comfortable with your mind. There might be setbacks along the way but that’s part of meditating. Keep practicing each day, you are doing great just by showing up.
What are the benefits of meditation?
There are many different benefits that go along with meditation. Many people start meditating to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and to have a better peace of mind. There are thousands of scientific studies, though, that include other lesser-known mindfulness meditation benefits. These can have a positive impact on mental, physical, and emotional health.
Some of the positive benefits people can get from meditation are increased awareness, clarity, compassion, and a sense of calmness. Improved focus is another common benefit that people can get from meditating.
There are so many more ways meditation can benefit the mind. In a study, from John Hopkins University, researchers found general meditation programs helped ease psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain related to stress. A published study by Google and Roche, participants who used the guided meditation app called Headspace reported a 46% reduction in depression and a 31% reduction in anxiety.
People who have meditated for only 10 days and had a slight increase in their satisfaction with life. It seems as if you regularly set aside a few minutes or even one minute every day to let go, breathe, and recharge, can go a long way to drastically improve your well-being.
There are many physical benefits to meditation as well, since a lot of stress can have a huge impact on your body. If there is too much stress in your body, there may be an increase in heart attacks and strokes. Having too many stress hormones can also lead to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol levels, which may disrupt immunity, energy levels, and sleep.
As the mind and body are relaxed when you meditate, your body stops releasing stress hormones. A lot of people who practice meditation on a daily basis have learned to train their bodies to relax almost instantly, and, according to many studies, can more effectively manage stress.
Reducing stress on a daily basis or at least a few days a week can lower blood pressure and heart rate. This results in higher energy levels which can help you get through your day easier and an improvement in your immunity system as well as sleep. Also, reducing stress is important for getting rid of the physical symptoms related to many different health conditions now and in the future.
Some believe the mind or the brain is the more important part of the body that meditation has an impact on. Meditating each day can help you cope with negative emotions better and help you practice looking at your emotions from a different viewpoint when they come up. For example, when you have anxiety, meditation can help you to acknowledge the anxious thoughts and focus on other things such as your breath.
Even though meditation can change your mindset and perspective on certain situations, it can change your mind entirely, to focus more on positive thoughts and emotions.
Best Guided Meditation Apps
One of the best meditation app is Headspace. They have a library that offers many different courses and single meditation sessions to suit whatever you are feeling that day. If you are anxious or stressed, Headspace offers many guided meditations to help you through it. You can even choose how long you want the session to be. There is a monthly fee that comes with it, but there is a student plan available. There is some free content that is included within the app as well.
ANother great benefit that comes along with using Headspace is that you can track your progress, meditate with friends and motivate each other. Not only does it offer guided meditations, but music as well to help you sleep better or to help you focus on your work.
Calm is another meditation app that has won many awards. It focuses more on sleep. The app features different calming exercises, and breathing techniques to help you relax. There are even sleep stories that feature different people such as Harry Styles and Matthew McConaughey. There is a monthly plan for this app, and some schools offer it for free to their students.
Oak is a free meditation and breathing app. If you only have five minutes to yourself for the day, this app can help you. Even if you only have a few seconds, there’s a chance it could at least calm you down or wake you up a little bit. The app offers many quick exercises to help you go to sleep and feel peaceful. Oak also tracks how long each one of your sessions lasts, how many breaths you’ve taken, how many sessions you’ve done, and so much more. The only downside is that the app is only available for iOS users.