Meditation has been practised throughout human history in many different forms, with various health benefits proven through scientific study. There are many types of meditation, of which mindfulness meditation is one.
It is easy to get started with meditation and we provide a simple, yet effective guide at the end of this article. Some benefits of meditation include:
Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and lead to a reduction in anxiety. According to Psycology Today, ‘Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate your emotional responses to perceived threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions.’
Decreased Blood Pressure
Meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. A study of 996 volunteers found that when they meditated they reduced blood pressure by about five points, on average. This was more effective among older volunteers, woman and those who had higher blood pressure prior to the study.
Insomnia is one of the most commonly reported sleep problems and many of us will experience it at some point in our lives, either not being able to get to sleep, or not being able to stay asleep. Randomised controlled studies of mindfulness training have shown increase in total sleep time and mindfulness techniques have been shown to be well accepted by people suffering from insomnia with long-lasting effects.
Just a couple of weeks of training can help improve your focus and memory and results of a study published on Psychological Science suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.
According to ‘Mindful Work’ author David Gelles, ‘Mindfulness meditation isn’t about letting your thoughts wander. But it isn’t about trying to empty your mind, either. Instead, the practice involves paying close attention to the present moment — especially our own thoughts, emotions and sensations — whatever it is that’s happening.’
How To Meditate
A simple, but effective introduction to meditation techniques for beginners.
1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie
2. Close your eyes.
3. Breathe naturally, make no effort to control your breath’s pace or intensity
4. Focus on your breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
5. When your mind wanders that is fine, completely natural and to be expected. When you notice that you mind has wondered, simply return your focus back to your breath.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.