Most of us know that meditation and mindfulness are good for us but few of us know the exact reasons why other than it can help combat stress. Here are four slightly lesser known benefits to inspire you to keep a consistent meditation practice.
1. Improved Sleep
Insomnia is becoming an ever increasing epidemic in our fast paced busy world.
Now, a small study suggests that mindfulness meditation — a mind-calming practice that focuses on breathing and awareness of the present moment — can help.
The study, which appears in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal included 49 adults who had trouble sleeping. Half completed a mindfulness mediation awareness program that taught them meditation designed to help them focus on “moment-by-moment experiences, thoughts, and emotions.” The other half completed a sleep education class that taught them ways to improve their sleep habits. Compared with the people in the sleep education group, those in the mediation group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the six sessions.
So if you are unfortunate enough to find sleeping challenging, the research is saying mediation is certainly worth a try.
2. Focus, clarity & reactions
One thing that is really clear is that meditation inspires greater clarity and focus. If you do already have a fairly established mediation practice, you will be able to recall the feeling as you come out of a mediation as one of peace and tranquility but with a large degree of focus and clarity.
The brain slows down, the thoughts slow down and we are able to begin to notice the space between the thoughts. This is great for relationships, and for how we function in our often demanding environment. Enabling us acknowledge the space between our experiences and our reactions that then follow.
3. Improves cognitive functioning
A well-known study carried out around a decade ago with Buddhist monks found that these long term mediation practitioners had actually managed to alter the structure and function of their brain. The science of it all is an entire series of blog articles in its own right, but in short what was found to be of particular note was increased neuroplasticity. And this is a very good thing. In lay persons terms what this research shows is that the mediation improves brain health on a biological level. No mean feat and something we should all want.
4. Body awareness will increase
Through the practice of sitting with ourselves as we do whilst meditating we begin to notice becoming more aware of the internal sensations in the body. Once we put the mind to rest for a minute or 20 we have an opportunity to really notice how the body feels. Subtle energetics will become more obvious and your understanding of your body will be heightened. This may sound fairly ‘out there’ but I assure you this is in fact a very immediate benefit of mediation. This level of awareness then allows us to detect more specifically when things feel off and more positively start to really notice how good out bodies are actually designed to feel.
So there are just four perhaps lesser known benefits of mediation. There are so many more. This practice is a big long journey but there is no time like the present to start!