Psychological Benefits of a Meditation Practice
Meditation has become a bit of a buzz word over the last decade – but how many of us actively practice meditation? Or even have a strong understanding of what meditation is? A large number of people don’t know what meditation is at its core, so you’re not alone. Here we will discuss the psychological benefits of meditation practice, and provide information on how to add meditation into your routine.
What is meditation?
Meditation involves engaging in a mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breath or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of awareness. It involves the process of quieting the mind with the goal of attaining an inner state of awareness and intensifying personal and spiritual growth.
There are countless definitions, approaches, techniques and schools of practice relating to meditation. However, at its core, meditation is a mental exercise that involves quieting the mind, with simultaneous concentrated focus (typically on the breath or a mantra) for the purpose of attaining an enhanced state of inner awareness.
Benefits of Meditation
There is a growing science on the benefits of meditation for enhancing psychological health. Research indicates meditation can boost emotional intelligence and reduce our perception of stress – both personal and workplace. Improvements in general mood, stress management, adaptability, interpersonal awareness and reality testing have all been demonstrated.
Although meditation practices have been documented for over 5,000 years (and have most likely originated much earlier), it’s only been recently that meditation has become mainstream. Although most have heard of meditation, many people don’t know exactly what meditation entails.
What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Counsellors and psychologists often speak about mindfulness, and others use these two terms interchangeably. Mindfulness and meditation are related but they aren’t the same thing.
Mindfulness is about being aware, and psychologically present, in the moment. It focuses on paying attention to your present thoughts, feelings, urges and behaviours. Mindfulness can be practiced informally at any time and is often paired with simple breathing exercises.
Mindfulness can be used in conjunction with meditation practices and can certainly help those new to meditation begin the process.
Learn more about mindfulness here.
How to Start
So, where should you start if you are interested in learning more?
- There are amazing resources online. Take some time to do some Google/YouTube searches – read and watch videos about meditation and its benefits.
- Commit to trying meditation for a week. 10 minutes a day for 7 days is a great, realistic goal to start with.
- Start with guided meditations. This can take the pressure off! Calm or Headspace are two great apps to check out; there is also an amazing number of YouTube videos online. Dr. Joti personally enjoys Oprah & Deepak’s 21 Meditation challenge.
Meditation is a practice that can help improve our psychological resiliency and improve our overall mental health, but it isn’t always easy. So, be patient with yourself when first learning, and implementing this into your day-to-day life.
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