Meditation is becoming more and more popular around the world. This practice is believed to help with stress and improve general well-being.
Meditation has become mainstream in the 21st century. These practices are used most often to reduce stress and general “recovery”. But is it true that relaxation and concentration on one object or phenomenon for some time can benefit the body?
The earliest mention of meditation as a type of spiritual practice can be found on the pages of the Vedas – one of the sacred books of Hinduism, which was created between the 16th and 5th centuries BC. From Hinduism, this practice, which was initially accompanied by chants and monotonous rhythms, migrated to Taoism and Buddhism.
Today, the practice of meditation has spread throughout the world and is used not so much for religious purposes as for “health” in the era of constant work stress and depressive disorders. The great advantage of this practice is that you can do it wherever you are – on a walk, on the bus, waiting for a doctor or even in the middle of a business meeting.
The main goal of meditation
The main purpose of meditation is relaxation and concentration of attention on one object or phenomenon. The most popular form of this practice consists in trying to look at your thoughts from the outside, completely relaxing and separating yourself from constantly arising feelings and thoughts. This is called mindfulness meditation.
There are very few studies that could reliably describe the effects of meditation. Previously, scientists from Johns Hopkins University analyzed 19,000 scientific articles on meditation and found only 47 that meet all the necessary criteria. A meta-analysis of these publications showed that meditation can indeed have a beneficial effect on the body, reducing pain, anxiety and mitigating depressive states.
In some clinics, meditative practices are already being used to improve the mental health of patients. In the US, there are programs to combat stress and chronic pain through meditation. Past people do report improvements in their condition. However, meditation – like sessions with a psychotherapist – takes time for the effect of the practices to be noticeable. As a rule, these are several weeks of regular classes of at least 10-20 minutes.
Why practice it
Meditation is a complete concentration on an object or phenomenon, which helps to develop awareness. Beginners are often advised to follow their breath, but this is by no means the only option. You can concentrate on anything – a piece of chocolate, the sound of rain, or washing dishes.
Meditation is to be present in the present moment and perceive your own thoughts as a product of the mind, and not a reflection of reality.
When a conscious person suddenly thinks “I’m good for nothing” or “No one loves me,” he realizes that these are just thoughts. And he can easily deal with them without diving into the abyss of self-abasement and bad mood.
Perhaps that is why meditation helps to solve emotional problems and overcome difficulties in relationships.
Scientific studies confirm that this practice reduces stress, helps fight anger, fatigue and anxiety, improves attention, increases feelings of well-being and empathy, and even boosts immunity.
The practice of mindfulness helps not only healthy people, but also those who are faced with mental disorders. It relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduces the risk of future relapse.
But, like any useful tool, meditation helps only under certain conditions.
In the book mentioned above, the authors explain that meditation helps switch the brain from action mode to awareness mode. In the first, we analyze, plan, think over and do other useful mental work, in the second, we simply perceive, without evaluation or criticism.
During the practice, you fully concentrate on the present moment and, when the meditation ends, continue to live in this mode. He is much calmer, because you do not remember the past and do not think about the future, do not criticize and notice all the good things that happen in your life (and there are many of them).
At the same time, the mode of action is quickly reclaiming its position, and awareness is leaving you. Over time, the brain will rewire, but before this happens, you have to spend a lot of time on practice.