Servicing the mind: The benefits of meditation
There are many scientific studies that show proven benefits of meditation including alleviating symptoms of depression, pain and anxiety, with a success level similar to that of medication. By changing our brain’s functional connectivity, we reduce inflammation which can have a positive effect on depression, post-traumatic stress and even the ageing process.
Below are some tips to help with your meditation practice:
- Incorporating it into your daily routineSince meditation can be performed for varying amounts of time we can all benefit from making it a standard feature of our daily routine. Take the time, even for simple, short, spot meditation whenever your mind starts to clutter. Focus on your surroundings and breathing and bring clarity back to your thoughts.
2. How and when to meditate
When beginning meditation, it’s important to find a space that is relaxed and calm, ensuring you are wearing comfortable clothing. Decide roughly how long you would like to meditate. Yoga, or even simple stretching, are good ways to prepare your body for meditation. Try to achieve a settled and relaxed state. It is important to remember that meditation takes practice and time to decide what works for you. There is no right or wrong time of the day for meditation, however try to avoid meditating and relaxing into sleep. Meditation is the practice of awareness so we want to ensure that our bodies recognise the difference between this and rest.
3. For those new to meditation
For beginners, mindfulness meditation is a good place to start. This particular style is all about observing your thoughts and is one of the easier practices to attempt without guidance. The key here is to not become involved with the things that drift into your mind. The main benefit of mindfulness meditation is awareness and concentration, helping you to identify thought patterns. There are also many meditation apps available that will help you to get started and some excellent resources online such as Headspace or Mindworks.
4. For those with experience
From here you can graduate to something like transcendental meditation which is one of the most popular and commonly used. This is the style that scientists use for study, it requires a strict schedule and is for the more serious meditator. It is based around the use of a mantra (a repeated phrase or hum) and is recommend twice a day for twenty minutes. Its main benefits are stress reduction and relaxation.
Source: This is an edited extract from ‘Servicing the mind: The benefits of meditation’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at https://benestar.com/. For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit https://www.afa.asn.au/afa-care