The Benefits of Meditation to Health and Well-Being
Meditation has been known and practised for thousands of years. Used to promote healing and wellness, meditation allows us to listen to what our bodies are telling us, enabling us to become more in tune to what it requires. It allows us the chance to nourish and nurture our inner selves. You turn your car off at some point and service it and meditation is about doing the same to your body and mind.
It can help:
- people cope better with daily life and any traumas or stresses that may arise
- calm nerves, fears, worries, anxieties
- aid concentration
- provide freedom from harmful addictions, habits, dependence, chemical influences
- improve the ability to focus
- assist with promoting relaxation
- people concentrate on the present moment
- improve academic performance
- people gain control of mood swings/PMT
- enhance creativity
- us become more aware of our bodies, thoughts, emotions
- increase alertness
- overcome insomnia
- people switch off at the end of the day or prepare for the day ahead
- improve motivation
- clear the mind
- release negativities
When practised regularly it has many psychological benefits as well as health ones, maximising the benefits. If you still aren’t convinced, consider the following areas in your life and see if you are suffering from any of these:
Perhaps the biggest benefit of meditation would be to health, as meditation has been shown, amongst other things, to:
- help our ability to withstand stress
- increase energy
- slow breathing
- enhance immunity
- reduce cholesterol
- lower blood pressure
- decrease heart rate
- encourage weight loss
- reduce/alleviate pain
According to NHS figures, 1/3 of people in the UK suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives, resulting in difficulties coping with everyday life. Not only does a lack of sleep have an impact on health and well-being, but it can also cause more serious problems such as accidents and decision-making issues; even being likened to driving whilst drunk. Meditation is believed to be more beneficial than power-napping and it can balance your physical and mental state. When you are meditating it means that you are not worrying about the past or focusing on the future and what may or may not happen. As a result you are calming the mind, blocking out thoughts and refocusing on e.g. breathing. If you wake in the middle of the night it can also help you drift back off to natural sleep in that it doesn’t give your mind the opportunity to focus on worries. It can also become an anchor for sleep if done in the right environment. And in the Dalai Lama’s words, ‘Sleep is the best meditation.’
Action for Happiness advocates the practise of meditation as it brings about a sense of peace, contentment and tranquillity that is achieved through a deep level of calm and relaxation. Because we are in touch with our feelings and our bodies through meditation, there is scientific evidence to suggest that over time it can increase our level of happiness and positivity.
Stress in the Workplace
Stress harms both people’s lives and the economy. Employees suffering from stress cost the economy billions of pounds every year in absence and staff turnover. Consider the following statistics taken from the HSE website, in 2014/5:
- New cases = 234,000
- Total number of working days lost through staff sickness = 9.9 million
- Particularly at risk are those in public service industries, such as education, health and social care, public administration and defence.
- The main factors cited were workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
Meditation can have a significant impact on reducing stress levels. It has been shown to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, boost morale, help people work better as part of a team and increase job satisfaction, which is important considering we spend so much time at work. Companies like AstraZeneca incorporated quiet, reflective areas for focused working into their offices, providing areas where people can formalise strategies and have a space to think, away from the many visual interferences and noise distractions like mobile phones, emails, other people, surroundings, conversations, etc., which all serve to get in the way of arriving at solutions to problems.
We were more creative 225 years ago during the Industrial Revolution in 1790 as when people went to work that’s all they had to do. They didn’t have the distractions of social media, the Internet, gadgets, etc., affording time for more creativity, meaning that things like the steam engine were invented. Are you fed up of feeling fed up? Get meditating and incorporate quiet spaces and times into your workspace so you can ‘power wash’ the brain.
Meditation has been proven to help you look and feel up to ten years younger. Stress shows on our faces, ageing them through lines and wrinkles. When we meditate we allow the muscles in the face to relax, reducing frown lines and crow’s feet. Not only that, but because we are happier we smile more, lifting our spirits, making us look younger, so we reap double benefits.
For some of us our minds are experts at jumping from one thing to another, otherwise known as the monkey mind. But meditation can calm the mind and take our attention away from everyday life with its trials and tribulations that we all experience. As a result our thought process becomes clearer, thereby improving concentration. After all, if you have got something going round and round in your head and you are going over and over it with all the various possible scenarios that may or may not happen, this is hardly conducive to concentration.
This is the plague of the 21st century that affects more and more of the population, reaching epidemic proportions. It is like a virus that is spreading rapidly and meditation can inject more positivity as people find that they feel different. Other people’s opinions don’t matter as much and they learn to love themselves, for who, what and where they are right now.
The last thing invented that revolutionised the world recently since the steam engine is the Internet, when Tim Berners-Lee was working alone on a project and wanted to send a message to someone in another room. Meditation could very well be the next thing to revolutionise our lives.