We live in an increasingly digital world. Our phones can not only call people, but they can also play music, movies and games. Schools are replacing blackboards with computer screens and we now have the ability to rewind, pause and fast forward through shows on TV. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and stress levels are increasing. But there is something we can do to put the brakes on our hectic lives and replenish ourselves emotionally. Meditation.
Meditation can look different for different people, and not everyone will meditate the same way. Some people like to meditate at home, in absolute silence or with gentle music playing. Other like to go out into nature, sit under a tree and listen to the singing of the birds. Whatever your method for meditating, there are some key benefits that you might or might not notice.
Decreased blood pressure
Stress can increase your blood pressure, making your heart beat harder, faster and sometimes irregularly. Anxiety, a constant worry about situations, can also increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to problems like heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Meditation causes you to focus on your breathing, slowing down your heart and lowering your blood pressure.
Anyone can tell you, after a long stressful day at the office your neck muscles are usually sore, your back might feel stiff and there’s the possibility you might also have a headache. Meditation can help alleviate all these problems. Tension can cause all sorts of issues in your body, from ulcers and insomnia to anxiety attacks and tension headaches. When you meditate you practice relaxing your muscles, letting go of tension and allowing your body to align naturally, without forcing it into a certain position. This alleviates the stress that accumulates in your muscles and joints, helping you to feel better.
Meditation increases the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical substance that is responsible for regulating the transmission of nerve impulses from your brain to the body and back. It not only regulates how you perceive pain, but also affects your mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, anxiety and increased irritability, making day-to-day interactions difficult and aggravating. An increase in serotonin will make you feel more at peace with yourself, will improve your relationships with others and give you a brighter outlook on life.
Increased mental capacity
Far from being a mentally passive activity, meditation actively engages your brain while you focus on your breathing, your heart beat and relaxing your muscles. This type of mental exercise can help to sharpen memory, increase concentration and even stimulate intelligence.
There are countless benefits to meditation and you don’t need to be a secluded monk to benefit from them. Even if you’ve never done it before, just find a quiet spot where you can be alone with your thoughts, let go of all the problems and worries that have been building up during the day and just say Om.