If you’re on the fence about adopting mindful meditation, it’s time to hop off and get started.
There are many benefits of meditation that we’ll cover here, but you should first know that there really aren’t any downsides. The only potential drawback is the time you’ll invest, but you’ll soon see why that investment is worthwhile.
The following are just a few of the many scientifically-proven benefits of mindfulness:
Mindfulness reduces anxiety
Many researchers have studied the effects of mindfulness meditation on anxiety, including those at Massachusetts General Hospital. In this 2013 study, 93 people with diagnosed anxiety disorders were randomly assigned to an 8-week meditation or control group that included stress management techniques. Researchers found that the people in the meditation group had significantly reduced their anxiety symptoms.
You don’t have to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to benefit from the stress-relieving benefits of mindfulness meditation. Everyone has some level of stress that needs an outlet.
Mindful Cognitive Therapy may prevent and treat depression
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps reduce stress and ease symptoms of depression. MBCT is an 8-week program that includes mindfulness yoga, body awareness and mindfulness exercises. Programs like these help patients tune in to their thoughts and feelings, and respond with compassion instead of stress.
Depression is an issue that more and more Americans are facing, and it’s difficult to ignore. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 16.2 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode last year. Even if you aren’t one of the 16 million, meditation can help ensure you won’t become one by preventing depression.
Mindfulness meditation improves cognition and mental focus
If you’re worried that your mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, you may be able to regain some executive functioning with meditation.
In a study published in Consciousness and Cognition Journal, researchers found that meditation not only improved mood, but it also reduced fatigue and anxiety and improved mindfulness. But perhaps the most interesting finding was that meditation significantly improved visuospatial processing, executive functioning and working memory.
Meditation may also help you make better decisions.
A Harvard study found that people who went through an 8-week mindfulness meditation program made faster and more pronounced attention-based adjustments than those who didn’t meditate.
If you’re ready to hop off that figurative fence and start meditating, there are a few ways you can get started.
- Join a mindfulness group – Look for a group in your area that offers guided meditations. You can often find such groups at a Buddhist temple.
- Practice yoga – Yoga is a form of exercise that incorporates meditation, producing a mind-body connection. You may be able to find yoga classes at your local gym, but the best mindfulness connection typically comes from the instructors at a dedicated yoga studio.
- Practice at home – If you feel more comfortable, try a guided meditation at home. You can also practice meditating by simply sitting in a quiet room, focusing on your breath and attempting to clear your mind.
When you start meditating, remember that it takes practice. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. The studies have shown that if you stick with it for at least 8-weeks, you’ll experience some of the many benefits of meditation. Also, don’t forget that meditation in-and-of-itself is not a cure-all for life’s troubles. You need to be consistent with self-care, good nutrition, and fitness for this technique to have its full effect. Used in conjunction with healthy habits, mindful meditation can be just the solution to many of your daily struggles.