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How Meditation can Help Your Mental Health

Updated: May 23

Lately, I have been realizing more and more how spirituality helps my mental health, helps me find new directions, and allows me to feel centered and peaceful.

When I start to feel out of control about situations going on in my life, I find that turning to my spirituality helps me feel a sense of calm again. It helps me to remember that it's OK not to know the answers all the time. No matter what is going on in my life, there are still many possibilities for me.

Sitting under the trees, feeling the air and the sunlight on my skin, listening to the sounds of the birds chirping allows me to feel a sense of peace. With spring in full bloom now, being able to meditate outside is a great way to connect back to nature and its healing power as well.

Often, we allow our lives to get so busy that the amount of things we need to do feels overwhelming. We are stressed to the max, and always in a hurry. Running from place to place, trying to meet deadlines, get our kids to their activities, take care of the house, and everything else on your plate can feel like too much.

Benefits of meditation

By taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate, it allows you to separate yourself from the business of the world, and focus inward. Calming your breath, stilling your mind, can help you feel rejuvenated and ready to face the rest of the day.

Although mindfulness, meditation and yoga are spiritual practices that have been practiced for thousands of years, in recent decades they have gotten attention through the mental health field as well. Many therapists recommend these type of practices to help you relax and unwind.

Science is catching up with what spiritual practitioners have always known. There is now a wealth of research to suggest that meditation changes the way your brain works, not just while you are meditating, but all the time.

According to UW Medicine, meditation can lead to the following changes in the brain:

Increases in gray matter and the left hippocampus aid learning, cognition and memory, resulting in better retention of facts and more mindful behavior. And increases in the anterior insula and in cortical thickness benefit cognitive function, attention and self-awareness

In addition to these changes, meditation also helps to reduce your nervous system's fight or flight response. This is what makes meditation such a great aid for PTSD symptoms; which are all based around the fight or flight response.

You are not your thoughts

A lot of our unhappiness comes from our tendency to judge. You may have a harsh inner critic, regrets about the past, fears about the future, or fear of letting other people down. These are all common things that start me with getting upset.

The reason why meditation helps so much with this is that it teaches us to be aware of our thoughts without attaching to them. When we meditate, we sit back and simply observe. Learning to release judgments this way can have huge impacts in many different areas of our lives.

Remember, you are not your thoughts. You are the watcher of your thoughts.

The more you remember this in meditation, the more you will remember in day to day life. By doing so, you can question your thoughts without questioning yourself. It allows you to think about life, yourself and your circumstances differently.

Creating mental space through meditation allows you to be calmer and more peaceful throughout the day, as you remember more and more to return to your breath and your calm center throughout the day.

If you are interested in learning to meditate yourself, check out this easy meditation for beginners video on YouTube.

Let me know in the comments what questions you have, and what topics you would like me to cover in future articles! I hope that this inspires you to start a meditation practice yourself, and that you experience its many benefits in your life.

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