A loved one's death, sudden unemployment, broken relationships -- these are just some of the painful situations people around the world go through.
It's common to feel burdened or sad when these unfortunate events occur. But, some people have it worse.
Depression is a common mental illness worldwide. In fact, more than 300 million people are suffering from depression globally.
Unlike short-term unfavorable response to life's difficulties, depression goes beyond mood changes and emotional breakdowns.
A review published in the JAMA Internal Medicine showed that meditation programs can help reduce depression, anxiety, and stress-related health problems.
But how exactly can meditation affect one’s mental health and spirituality?
This article will dive into the wonders of meditation, and its impact on people’s mind and inner peace. You will also learn about the various types of meditation and how you can put them into practice.
Types of Meditation
Meditation takes various forms. You can choose from a wide array of meditation types, depending on your needs and preferences. Below are some of the best ways to meditate:
Also called the Metta meditation, the Loving-Kindness meditation aims to develop a loving and kind approach towards all things, even daily stressors or personal detractors.
Through this practice, meditators allow their minds to receive love and kindness by repeating compassionate messages to himself or herself, and certain people.
This meditation practice anchors one's mindfulness on the heart, promoting feelings of love and compassion towards oneself and others.
The Loving-Kindness or Metta meditation can benefit people who are frustrated, resentful, offended, and bitter, and those who are experiencing interpersonal conflict.
This type of meditation, which has been associated with reduced anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and depression can promote positive emotions and vibrations.
In Mindfulness Meditation, practitioners are invited to be present at the moment.
Instead of being stuck in the past or worried about the future, mindfulness teaches the meditator to be aware of what surrounds him in present time.
This type of meditation does away with judgment. A person simply observes his surroundings calmly without discrimination.
This practice is a common form of meditation, which anyone can perform almost anywhere. Because this meditation type is also commonly practiced, several studies were already conducted on its impact on one’s mental health.
Research showed that mindfulness meditation can improve one’s focus and memory, reduce obsession with negative feelings and impulsive, irrational reactions.
Studies also revealed that mindfulness can promote relationship gratification.
Transcendental meditation, on the other hand, makes use of mantras that are repeated within 15 to 20 minutes, twice every day while the practitioner is seated with eyes closed.
This practice allows the practitioner to be perfectly still and at rest, and achieve a total absence of mental limitations.
But compared with other types of meditation, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) involves an authorized teacher and a seven-step course.
Here's how it works: Following a lecture, an interview, and a personal instruction from a certified instructor, a unique mantra will be given to the meditator, which should be kept confidential.
The instructor regularly meets with TM meditators to make sure that they are doing the technique correctly.
But, while meditation programs are said to help improve several mental health problems, other reports suggest that it can also worsen the condition of people suffering from certain psychiatric conditions.
So, if you have a mental health condition, it is best to check with your physician first before you practice meditation techniques.
Also, remember to discuss your condition (if there are any) to your instructor before proceeding with the TM method.
If you love outdoors, walking meditation may be your cup of tea. Unlike the other types of meditation, which are usually done indoors while seated, walking meditation allows you to move while meditating.
But, this technique is more than just an ordinary stroll in the park.
Compared with normal walks, walking meditation is done at a much slower pace, and coordinates with your breathing or certain focusing technique.
Many people deem walking meditation easier compared to seated meditation. This is because you are moving with eyes open, gaining more interaction with your surroundings.
And since there is movement, you also become more mindful of what your body experiences and feel more present at the moment.
How Can Meditation Affect Your Mind?
Experts say that the benefits of meditation to one’s mind are generous. So, how exactly can your mind benefit from it? Below are some of the meditation benefits for one’s mind:
Meditation helps you focus better
Meditation teaches you to be more attentive, therefore, you are able to enhance your ability to focus. But, beyond the practice, your mind is also able to focus better.
The effect of meditation on your concentration lasts even when you’re not meditating.
Meditation can reduce anxiety
Another known benefit of meditation is its ability to reduce anxiety.
A study conducted on patients with panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorder discovered that mindfulness meditation had a significant effect on the reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms.
A review of 39 studies with 1,140 participants who received mindfulness-based therapy for various conditions such as anxiety disorders and other psychiatric conditions showed similar results.
According to the review, mindfulness programs are an effective intervention for curing anxiety disorders and mood complications in the clinical population.
Meditation can enhance your creativity
Researchers studied Chinese undergraduates who performed a meditation intervention called the integrative body-mind training (IBMT) for 30 minutes each day within a week.
The results showed that short-term meditation enhanced the creativity of IBMT participants compared with the relaxation training (RT) control group.
The study also found that IBMT helped regulate emotions better than RT.
Meditation can sharpen your memory
Researchers also found a link between meditation and enhanced memory.
It was discovered that regular meditation thickens the cerebral cortex of the brain as it boosts blood flow and blood vessels in the region.
The cerebral cortex, which is the brain’s most highly developed part, is responsible for language processing, perception, information processing, and memory retention.
A healthy cerebral cortex, therefore, can enhance one’s memory, and meditation can help you achieve just that.
Meditation can reduce your stress levels
Looking for the best way to beat stress? Why not meditate?
A meta-analysis of 20 empirical studies involving mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) showed that mindfulness meditation can help people with both clinical and nonclinical problems.
Researchers suggest that MBSR can be an effective tool for enhancing one’s ability to cope with stress and life’s daily challenges, and even remarkable nerve-racking situations.
How Can Meditation Affect Your Inner Peace?
Aside from the benefits of meditation to one’s mind, meditating can also help you gain inner peace. Here’s how meditation can affect your inner peace:
Meditation can develop an attitude of love and kindness
Meditation can also cultivate an attitude of love and kindness within you. In Metta meditation, you are taught to deliver messages of compassion to yourself or to others.
Repeating messages such as, “May I be filled with love and kindness” while breathing deeply and gently, can make you feel a loving tenderness towards yourself.
Similarly, sending grace-filled messages to certain people can make you feel more loving and kinder towards other people.
Meditation can help you unload your emotional baggage
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to lose your inner peace. Unfortunately, many of us are often stressed with the kind of lifestyles that we have.
To help you beat the negative effects of stress in your life, you can quietly meditate.
Meditation can help you unload overwhelming emotions and thoughts as you replace them with calmness and tranquility.
You will notice yourself feeling lighter and calmer every time you meditate as it allows you to let go of the unruly vibrations you’re experiencing within.
Meditation gets rid of negative energy
We often deny negative feelings. But, when we do, they often lead us to more serious problems such as anger, shame, anxiety or depression.
Meditation allows you to be still and meet these negative emotions with the goal of letting them go.
Whether you meditate for 10 minutes daily, the more important thing is you release these negative energies and allow yourself to be more open to self-awareness and self-acceptance.
Meditation can awaken forgiveness
Forgiveness is something not a lot of people finds easy to give.
But when you meditate, you will feel your thoughts and emotions moving through you, and you’ll realize you were not the same person you were a few moments ago or a few days, weeks or months back.
Whatever pain someone caused you or you caused someone is no longer who you are at the moment.
This then cultivates a wonderful realization that you can forgive who you were and those who offended you because they are already a part of the past.
Meditation can develop harmlessness
When someone wrongs us, it’s easy to wish them or even want to cause them harm. Sometimes, there are also moments when we feel unworthy or undeserving, causing unnecessary pain within ourselves.
Meditation transforms these negative thoughts into something positive as it makes you recognize the goodness that lies within you and the glory of all life.
With regular practice, meditation can do wonders for your body and soul. Anytime is a good time to begin meditation. Notice how it can change your outlook and approach to life by practicing it regularly.