May 21st is World Meditation Day. Whether you are an experienced meditator, or just starting out it’s a great day to get started or recommit to a regular personal meditation practice. Below we explore some of the ways meditation can support our well-being.
In 2020 we found ourselves at home trying to make sense of the many stressors that came with the pandemic. For many of us, this meant changes in our ways of working, separation from family and friends, and lots of uncertainty as to what the future might look like.
To navigate these feelings of uncertainty many of us turned to meditation. In fact, at Smiling Mind we saw a 67% increase in downloads in March last year.
As the dust settles and we find ourselves in an almost post-pandemic world (at least here in Australia) we may forget the importance of continuing meditation and other self-care routines we adopted to support our wellbeing when so much was out of our control.
So why should we continue to meditate in 2021 and indeed beyond? Regular meditation has been found to support both our physical and mental health in lots of ways. Here are a few of the big ones :
1. Reduces Stress
Stress is often described as feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense, and worried, and occurs when we face a situation we feel we can’t cope with. Studies have shown that prolonged experiences of stress can negatively impact both our mental and physical health. Meditating regularly can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
By setting aside time each day to practice mindfulness our brains can learn to respond rather than react, reducing our experience of the flight or fight response and the levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in our brains.
It can also help us get better at noticing when we are getting caught up in hypothetical (imagined) threats and danger, enabling us to unhook from this unhelpful thinking.
2. Improves Sleep
Many of us are familiar with the experience of going to bed and the feeling of our thoughts racing about the day that was or what is to come.
Recent research by the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia found that about 60% of adults experience either trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep, at least three times per week.
Meditation cultivates mindfulness skills which we can then apply when navigating challenges associated with falling or staying asleep. It can help us ground ourselves in the present moment, notice when we are getting caught up in unhelpful thinking, and relax the body through a variety of techniques such as focusing on our breathing and guided imagery. Check out our 21 Day Sleep Program for a range of guided meditations to incorporate into your sleep routine.
3. Improves Focus
With a world increasingly full of distractions, it is no surprise that many of us struggle to focus on one task at a time. Taking time out to meditate is great for your mind.
Studies have shown that those who practise mindfulness meditation exhibit thickening of the grey matter in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for executive functions such as attention, self-regulation, and planning. Think of it as an exercise for your mind. Each time we meditate we are building our attentional muscle.
4. Supports your physical health
We know that meditation is a great way to support your mental health but there is also an increasing amount of evidence indicating that regularly practising meditation is great for your physical health too! Studies have found that regularly meditating lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stabilizes blood circulation in the body, and regulates blood pressure, heartbeat, metabolism, and other essential biological functioning.
These are just a few of the many proven benefits of regularly practising meditation!
So what are you waiting for? Download the Smiling Mind app and get started! We have over 400 free meditations to suit your needs!
Remember all you need is a moment!
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