Many of us have been turning to the likes of meditation to help us cope with the events that have happened so far in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic in particular has given us all more time to reflect and has caused heightened anxiety across all spectrums of society.
Writing for Elemental, Eddie Pease recently explained the benefits of meditation for our overall health and wellbeing, as well as exploring exactly how it works.
He pointed out that having a regular meditation practice can improve the quality of your sleep, improve your relationships and generally help you to feel happier and more content in your life.
Mr Pease also noted that one of the reasons why we should all explore meditation is that modern life is incredibly stressful for our brains and that our physiology hasn’t developed as quickly as technology or society.
As a result, our response to fear and stress, which our ancestors required to escape a predator, for instance, now kicks in when we’re under pressure at work. But unlike predators in days gone by, which you could escape thereby enabling the stress response in your body to fade, modern-day issues stay present for much longer.
“This makes for a continuously active stress network, which can cause anxiety, depression and burn out,” he stated.
Meditation helps improve our mental wellbeing because it balances our emotion network, which is the aspect of the brain that creates basic signals such as pleasure and stress, while helping us to develop our attention and stabilise our awareness.
By developing your attention and awareness, you’re then able to “filter” your emotional responses, which allows you to “react more objectively and less personally to them”.
As well as the benefits of improved sleep and feeling more content, regular meditation is also likely to improve your focus and make you more productive, as you’ll be less receptive to distractions around you.
He also stressed the importance of making meditation a regular practice, explaining that if you don’t meditate regularly it will be of limited use.
It’s also important to understand the difference between meditation and mindfulness, because while the two terms are often used interchangeably in the western world they are in fact different.
An article for Cosmopolitan recently explored how they are different, pointing out that mindfulness is a way of being whereas meditation is an exercise to help you achieve a mindful state.
Former Buddhist monk and Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe told the publication why it’s so important to understand the distinction between the two terms.
“If we think that meditation is the whole deal, and we only meditate for ten minutes a day, then there’s 23 hours and 50 minutes of the day that aren’t being addressed,” he said. Our aim should be to achieve mindfulness in our everyday lives, he added, with meditation being one part of achieving that.
Mr Puddicombe noted that meditation is an important tool to becoming more mindful, because it teaches us “how to be mindful, how to be present and how to be undistracted”. By learning these skills through a regular meditation practice, you can then start to apply them to everyday life.
If you want some assistance to get started on your journey to becoming more mindful, consider getting help from a mindful therapist online who can also support you with any mental health challenges you’re facing at the moment.