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Though we may tend to think of meditation as a thoroughly modern practice because it’s such a buzzword, there’s evidence to suggest it is thousands of years old. These days, you can find proponents of mindfulness everywhere from the beach to the boardroom, but why is meditation so beneficial, how do successful people use it – and how can you work it into your daily life?
What Is Meditation?
In theory, meditation is simple: Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, slow down your breathing – and quiet your mind. The last part is where many people struggle. It’s surprisingly difficult to ignore intrusive thoughts that pop up and demand our attention. Many of us are also not accustomed to sitting still and “doing nothing” for long periods. It takes plenty of practice and patience to learn how to meditate, which is why the most successful people do it daily.
Mental Health Benefits of Meditation
The reasons to meditate are well-documented among practitioners of both traditional and holistic medicine. For example, consider the following ways a regular mindfulness practice can improve your mental health and overall quality of life.
1. Stress Relief
The world is a noisy place, and there are lots of demands on our time. We live in an age where even reading the day’s headlines can be exhausting. With so much information and emotional baggage to process, it’s easy to experience mental fatigue. Our brains don’t know what to deal with first, so they hop from one thought to the next like a squirrel running among tree branches.
Meditation helps you handle stress better because it teaches you how to examine your thoughts one at a time. When you learn a mindfulness approach of taking things slowly – not dwelling in the past or fretting about the future – you can focus on what is genuinely important to you, then let go of everything else.
If you’re struggling to keep up with the hectic pace of life, you can start to feel inadequate or “less than” other people. If you continue to judge yourself through the lens of what you couldn’t achieve, instead of all the things you are doing right, it becomes increasingly difficult to love and accept yourself for who you are.
Meditation can help you get back in touch with yourself by showing you how to become a detached, non-judgmental observer. Once you step back and stop judging yourself so harshly, you will become a happier person.
3. Connection to the World
One of the ironies of the information age is that the same devices that are supposed to provide a greater sense of interconnectedness have isolated us into separate bubbles. Is it any wonder so many Americans say they’re lonely? Loneliness can be a dangerous cycle to get stuck in because of all the negativity it can perpetuate. Luckily, there are various types of meditation to help restore your sense of interconnectedness if you find yourself feeling detached. For example, try this 20-minute “Web of Life” meditation to realize you are part of something larger than yourself. This form of meditation is also particularly helpful for reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Meditation for Addiction Recovery
Once you start learning about the benefits of the mindfulness approach, you may start thinking about the ways it can supplement your ongoing sobriety goals and help you become a more well-rounded person.
For instance, meditation can help you learn to stay calm and focused in times of stress, which is an excellent way to manage drug cravings and help prevent a relapse. A mentally centered approach can also complement the physical exercise you are doing to regain your strength as you work through your recovery program.
It’s well worth the time to set aside a few minutes each day to meditate. If you realize your mind has started wandering, patiently bring your attention back to your breath. Day by day, this practice will start feeling increasingly natural, and soon, you’ll wonder how you used to manage without it.
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