In this increasingly busy and technologically connected world, it is important to unplug and connect with your body and mind.
The ancient Buddhist practices of Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga can help you go within, and find balance in your mind and body.
In recent years, scientific studies have validated the usefulness of these practices to combat stress, anxiety and depression. Now, they are recommended by many psychologists for your mental health.
Practicing meditation is one of the easiest things that you can do to decrease stress and improve your mental health.
You don’t need any equipment, just a quiet place to sit. Then, you place your hands on your knees, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Sounds easy, right?
According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health,
Meditation and mindfulness practices may have a variety of health benefits and may help people improve the quality of their lives. Recent studies have investigated if meditation or mindfulness helps people manage anxiety, stress, depression, pain, or symptoms related to withdrawal from nicotine, alcohol, or opioids. Other studies have looked at the effects of meditation or mindfulness on weight control or sleep quality.
With all these proven benefits, meditation can be great not just for your mental health, but your physical health as well. It can be great to start a meditation practice right away!
According to The Harvard Gazette,
Desbordes’ research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which not only takes pictures of the brain, as a regular MRI does, but also records brain activity occurring during the scan. In 2012, she demonstrated that changes in brain activity in subjects who have learned to meditate hold steady even when they’re not meditating. Desbordes took before-and-after scans of subjects who learned to meditate over the course of two months. She scanned them not while they were meditating, but while they were performing everyday tasks. The scans still detected changes in the subjects’ brain activation patterns from the beginning to the end of the study, the first time such a change — in a part of the brain called the amygdala — had been detected.
This is important research because it shows that a meditation practice can benefit you in your day to day activities, as well as when you are meditating!
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment. You observe all that is around you, and immerse yourself in being present, without judging your thoughts.
You can choose to be mindful at any time, in any place. All you have to do is focus on your body, your breath, and your environment. You can be mindfully present during any activity that you are participating in.
According to the American Psychological Association,
Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress. In 2010, Hoffman et al. conducted a meta-analysis of 39 studies that explored the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. The researchers concluded that mindfulness-based therapy may be useful in altering affective and cognitive processes that underlie multiple clinical issues. Those findings are consistent with evidence that mindfulness meditation increases positive affect and decreases anxiety and negative affect.
So, according to this study, you can see that the results show that you will have more ‘positive affect,’ which means that you will be happier. This is a great benefit to such a simple practice!
Yoga Practicing yoga is a bit more difficult than Meditation or Mindfulness, because it is like a meditation that is tied to physical poses.
When you practice yoga, you go through a series of poses, connecting your body to your breathing. It is like a combination of Meditation and exercise, connecting your body and mind through a focus on your breathing.
According to Medical News Today,
According to scientific research, yoga may: reduce stress relieve anxiety help manage depression decrease lower back pain improve quality of life in those with chronic conditions or acute illnesses stimulate brain function help prevent heart disease When trying yoga for the first time, join a class for beginners under the direction of a qualified instructor to avoid injuries.
These are wonderful physical and mental health benefits that you can experience as you try a yoga practice for yourself.
After learning about all the physical and mental health benefits of the ancient Buddhist practices of Meditation, Mindfulness and Yoga, it seems like the monks may be onto something.
I use all of these practices in my daily life, and experience huge benefits from all of them. I would highly recommend trying them yourself.
For more information on getting started, you can check out my other health and wellness articles!