Meditation is a great tool to find inner peace. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment, and to a single point of attention. The benefits of meditation are plenty, ranging from a calmer mind, to reduced stress, to an increased ability to move on from the past.
This practice helps you learn how to keep your attention where you consciously want it to be, rather than letting the environment or your thoughts and feelings drag your attention all around. That means it helps you stay calm and collected no matter what’s going on around you.
There are a plethora of stimuli trying to drag your attention around from advertisements and notifications on your phone and computer, to thoughts and emotions demanding to be dealt with, to situations that appear to be needed to be dealt with immediately. If you let these dictate where your attention goes your day will be filled with stomping out fires from left to right.
You will be dragged around to whatever demands your attention next. You can get stuck in a state like this for months or even years, and before you know it you have no idea where the time went. You go into a sort of auto pilot where your environment dictates where your life will go rather than you.
When you meditate you cultivate the ability to decide for yourself where you want your attention to go. This means you gain the ability of deciding where you want to spend your time. Rather than spending your time and energy following whatever grabs your attention next, you can choose to spend your time and energy on things you truly wish to do.
Letting Go of the Weight of the World
Not only do the benefits of meditation consist of a calm mind, you also can relieve underlying problems such as over-worrying.
Meditation is a time where you can drop every single trouble in your life. Your only responsibility during meditation is to focus on your breath. Meditation is a time to allow yourself to simply exist with zero troubles.
Meditation gives you the option to let go of all the baggage on your shoulders whenever you want to. Without meditation it can sometimes be very difficult to just sit back, and let go of all of your troubles. You can try, and then eventually a troublesome thought will come into your mind and you’ll start thinking of how to fix whatever issue came to mind.
With meditation you gain the ability to give yourself a break. If throughout the day worries start really wearing you down meditation gives you the ability to be able to just sit back and let yourself rest and relax for a bit, letting the worrisome thoughts come and go, not feeling an urgent need to deal with each and every one that comes by. You gain the ability to sit back and let your mind be clear for a bit so you can rejuvenate.
Meditation Makes You Healthier
Stress has numerous, proven negative effects on the body. You can look at this article on the topic from the APA to see all the harm holding stress in your body causes. What stress does is activates the body’s fight or flight response. This means your body is preparing for survival. The only problem is you’re not actually under attack, and most of these responses are unhealthy when they are prolonged for days, weeks, or months.
Your immune system becomes weakened, your heart and blood vessels become inflamed due to increased blood pressure and heart rate, your body doesn’t heal as easy, and numerous other negative effects take place. There is a large swath of research agreeing that meditation reduces overall stress levels. This means meditation reduces all of the harmful effects in the body caused by chronic stress.
With mindfulness you’re on auto pilot less. You become more aware of what you are doing throughout the day. Because of this, you start to become aware of habits you didn’t even know you had. This means you’re able to become more aware of the habits that hold you back from living how you want to live.
You begin to catch what activities you do just because it’s what you’ve always done. One such habit that I’ve caught for myself is watching tv or playing video games. They’re just my go-to when I have nothing to do.
Lately I’ve realized that I’ll just browse for shows to watch, or play a video game without even enjoying the activity at all. I’ll just do it because I haven’t put thought into what else I could be doing. Now I’m starting to realize when I have free time I want to actually start thinking of what I would enjoy doing, or that I could benefit from doing, rather than just automatically going to the activities I habitually do. I’ve started practicing music and drawing more, and hanging out with friends. I’ve begun to do things that actually inspire me and that make me feel better at the end of the day than I did when I began it.
Reducing Unpleasant Feelings to Stimuli
Mindfulness meditation also helps you learn how to become stronger than your worst fears, emotions, and thoughts. With mindfulness meditation you learn how to see pain, both physical and emotional, in its most bare form. You see these things as raw stimulus, rather than the emotional response they trigger. For example, if you have social anxiety it may be uncomfortable to approach strangers and have a conversation with them. When coming at it from a mindful point of view you begin to have the ability to take note of the anxiety growing inside you, and just let it do its thing while you continue to have your conversation.
A lot of the time people will avoid situations because it will cause them fear or anxiety. With mindfulness you can learn to see fear and anxiety as just another emotion. Rather than see it as something to avoid, it becomes just another object in your awareness. This gives you so much more freedom as you now are better equipped to conquer your fears. You can start doing activities that you’re afraid of but still want to do, because you learn how to stop avoiding the sensation of fear and realize that it’s just another feeling in your body. It can’t hurt you.
Fear and anxiety is like if somebody followed you and yelled whenever you did certain things. When you just think about the things he might quietly yell. Then when you’re actually doing the thing he might yell kind of loud. But that’s it. And if you just ignore his yelling he will eventually get quieter on his own. The only power these feelings actually hold is the power you give them through your reaction to them.
Because meditation allows you to bring your focus directly to the present moment this allows you to move on from worrisome thoughts or emotions much easier. The biggest thing these stimuli do to us is cause a large reaction out of us. When a worry comes by if you don’t actually react to it the worry would come for a few seconds or possibly minutes, and then it’d fade away.
What happens instead is that we’ll see the worry, start thinking about it deeply, which brings up more worry, and then it just piles up from there. This could last from minutes to hours to even throughout a whole day.
Meditation reduces the draw of these thoughts and emotions. When you meditate you practice leaving these worries alone. This means when you encounter these worries during your day you can choose to simply bring your attention elsewhere, knowing that interacting with them would only cause harm. You know that there are better things to spend your time and energy on than worrying.