The role of meditation in promoting improved mental health has been recognized for centuries. As more and more medical studies seem to provide concrete, irrefutable links between good mental health and meditation, however, its positives effects are becoming more mainstream and more widely recognized.
If you think that your own mental health could be improved through meditation then you might be right. If you want to see for yourself, then here are 5 simple ways that meditation could improve your mental health.
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that meditation can help to reduce anxiety and stress, including from studies at Harvard University. However, in order to gain these benefits, you have to meditate. We recommend setting aside at least 10 minutes a day to meditate, and with this practice, you will inevitably see the benefits to your mood and well-being. There are apps available that can track your practice, such as Headspace.
Listen to guided meditation
Meditation provides a space to think and to listen to your body. Some issues that affect your mental health can have underlying, physical symptoms. But let’s face it, how many of us have time to listen to the signs and warnings our bodies provide us that something is going wrong? Meditation reverses this trend – it allows a period of reflection, where you can actually listen to your body and to your mind. One way of improving your mental health through meditation is to listen to guided meditation tapes of YouTube videos, which can provide a sense of calm. Someone who is well known on YouTube is Jason Stephenson. Check out his guided meditations.
Learn from the best
In today’s hectic lifestyles, with time sapping chores and rigid schedules it can be hard to simply find time to relax – and that is not good news for your overall mental health. Finding time to meditate however can really help in this area too. However, perhaps even more helpful is to rely on an expert to teach you how to meditate to reduce anxiety. One example is Andy Puddicombe, who is the founder of Headspace and former Buddhist Monk, who has written a number of books and created a number of platforms to help you to learn from the best.
Combine with Yoga
If you suffer from long-term illness then this can often have a detrimental effect on your mental health. Meditation can be an underutilized tool in combating a number of illnesses, both long and short-term. It is particularly effective in managing illnesses that are worsened by stress. ‘Meditation’, of course, can mean a number of things, but by meditation, most of us will mean sitting quietly and contemplating. Yoga, however, is also a form of meditation, and one that, if combined with quiet contemplation, will also aid anxiety, as it provides another way of practicing mindfulness, and will also give you some physical outlet, further helping with your anxiety.
Of course, meditation should not be seen as – and definitely is not – a replacement for traditional treatments for illness. It is a good idea to consider consulting with your physician before you begin a program of meditation.
Try mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is where mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy combine. It involves interrogating your thoughts in order to change your thought process, and it could be very effective in treating anxiety, as it is more the sum of its parts and not merely a combination of mindfulness and CBT. However, if it is to work, you need to stick to it, as practice is the key.
One of the great things about using meditation to help improve your mental health is the fact that is so easy! 10-minute windows of meditation in the day can really work wonders, making it easy to fit into busy schedules. There is little – if actually any – equipment really required.
Marcus regularly blogs at psysci, a psychology, science blog that examines the latest research and explains how findings can impact and improve people’s lives.