~The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness~

Hi all,

After my recent post on the importance of living by the Golden Rule and being connected to the people in your life whom you love, I decided to write this post on self-care.  Don’t get me wrong, helping others and treating people the way you wish to be treated is huge and necessary in this world, but unless we are taking care of ourselves by taking time out of our busy day to relax and self-soothe, we cannot help anyone else.  This concept is something that I still have to remind myself of everyday.  I am prone to putting others who need help in front of myself.  Not only because I feel badly for them, which I do, but also to help escape whatever emotions I’m feeling or the chaos of my own life. I now put two self-soothing skills into my planner everyday as a reminder not only to take care of myself, but to also as a conscious reminder to maintain self-compassion and love who I am.

The body and mind are connected.  I’ve realized this through struggling with trauma, anxiety, and depression.  Sometimes our emotions can make us physically ill.  The first self-soothing technique I started off with was meditation for this reason exactly.  I began practicing and learning about meditation and my goal was to start incorporating a meditation practice into my life daily. The best part of meditation is you can do it anywhere! It’s very common to be a little bit skeptical and confused by the information I am going to be discussing, but just try to keep your mind as open as you can.  No stress here.  :-)

Now I will describe what exactly the term meditation truly means.  Meditation is described as being deep in thought while being aware and reflecting on the thoughts passing through your mind.  It is a mental exercise where we practice concentration and self-awareness.  The purpose of having a daily practice in your life is to achieve a state of mindfulness, as well as an increased level of spirituality and spiritual awareness.   In Latin, meditation translates to a medical remedy.  Now I will discuss all of the benefits of incorporating a meditation practice into your life!

The first benefit of meditation is stress reduction.  Simply take some time out of our busy day to sit still and quietly while closing our eyes, breathing deeply through the nose for a count of four.  (inhale:1,2,3,4), and exhaling out through the mouth (exhale: 1,2,3,4,5).  Breathing and being still in peace and quiet has a huge impact on the level of agitation in one’s life.  Studies find that meditation decreases the heart rate as well.  The practice affects the Nervous System which helps regulate our emotions.  Meditation also increases our ability to concentrate.  This leads to memory enhancement, such as recalling both short-term memories and memories that might have been forgotten over time. While meditating, our energy is increased which also is correlated with these benefits.

Second, meditation encourages a healthy lifestyle.  The core of the practice is based on the Hippocratic Oath; in other words, “do no harm”.  This not only means do no harm to others; but also do no harm to yourself, which means taking care of yourself by living a healthy life style and cultivating self-compassion. 

Third, meditation increases self-awareness.  The practice is a profound way to get to know our selves.  Think about it: while meditating, almost all of us have thoughts that run through our minds; some thoughts might be positive and affirming, some may be simply about running errands or whatever we have to do later that day. Others, however, can be quite intense, causing deep feelings and emotions.  Learning how to cope with these very intense thoughts is a crucial way to find the true self.  We are learning what we struggle with and why and how we alone can fix it.

 

Fourth, meditation makes us happier beings.  The practice increases brain signaling on the left side of the brain, specifically the pre-frontal cortex.  The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for memory, initiation, social behaviors, and impulsivity.  It is also the part of the brain that processes feelings of empathy, shame, compassion, and guilt.  The increase of signaling on the left side of the pre-frontal cortex decreases the functioning on the right side of the brain that is responsible for negative emotions.

 

Lastly, meditation improves physical health tremendously.  One example is immune health and cardiovascular function.  While meditating our heart rate decreases, putting us in a calm relaxed state where our bodies can rest and take a break from all the stress that surrounds us.

 

I hope you all learned something new and I hope you enjoyed this post!  If you have anything you would like to share about your practice, or if you have any questions at all, please comment below! J Also, I would love to hear some suggestions for different themed meditations that I can share with you.  Below I have posted a guided meditation and I really recommend taking some time out of your day to kick your feet up and take care of yourself, and try it out!  I always found guided meditations much easier to focus on in the beginning; honestly I still do most of the time lol. 

Sending all of you positive vibrations!

Xx

Siobhan