Meditation is a practice where you use a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing your mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train your attention and awareness. 

In simple words, meditation is the process of redirecting your thoughts to calm your mind. Meditation is an ancient practice that is believed to have originated in India several thousand years ago.

Meditation can help with a wide range of mental and physical health issues and is great for forming a deeper connection with yourself, those close to you, and humanity in general. Mental health refers to your cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how you think, feel, and behave. 

Meditation is also known to enhance your spirituality. Spirituality means different things to different people and it usually involves a belief in something beyond the self.

Meditation is recommended to be practised by all - children, young professionals, people in their mid-40s and 50s, and older people, simply because of its unlimited benefits to the human mind and body. 

Practising meditation for about 15 to 20 minutes daily can help rejuvenate you and relieve any negativity that may be weighing on you. 

Benefits of Meditation On Your Mental and Physical Health

Regular practice of meditation increases joy, enthusiasm, and peace of mind. Some other benefits that you should be aware of are:

1. Meditation improves your immune system.

The ability of your immune cells to attack disease-causing organisms has often been linked to your physical health only. It is important to understand that your immune system is highly intelligent because your immune cells participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain throughout your body. This means that your thoughts, moods, sensations, and expectations are transmitted to your immune cells as well. When you meditate, these messages change in important ways. 

It is also often said that most illnesses are born in your mind. This is not to say that most illnesses are not real or do not exist, but they are just preventable. Stress, lack of sleep, and bad emotional regulation affect your body, not only on a psychological level but also on a physical level.  

Studies show that practitioners of meditation have improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resiliency; and low-stress levels which boost your immune system and keep you away from diseases. Mitochondria are singular, membrane-bound cells that generate most of the chemical energy needed to power your biochemical reactions, that enable you to carry out bodily functions.

2. Meditation improves your sense of touch.

You have five sensory organs - eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin. Improving your overall senses will keep your mind sharp and refreshed. You will have a high level of alertness and awareness and will be able to carry out your daily activities with more confidence and diligence.

Studies show that meditation might not only help you relax, it could also boost your sense of touch. Touch simply means to bring your hand in contact with something to feel it and it is one of your most important senses. An improved sense of touch is an easy and effective way of activating your parasympathetic nervous system (the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows your heart rate). 

A kind of meditation called attention meditation, or focus attention meditation or concentrative meditation is a technique that helps you pour attention into your senses. Long-term meditation or attention meditation can sharpen your tactile (touch) sensations.

3. Meditation helps in improving the quality of your breathing. 

To breathe is to live! Every organ in your body relies on oxygen, which is provided by breathing. Breathing is the process of respiration, during which air (oxygen) is inhaled into your lungs through the nose or the mouth. 

Most often, you are doing shallow breathing. Shallow breathing is constricted, tense, and not good for your overall health. Deep breathing, also known as proper breathing, is beneficial for your overall health. Deep breathing is the easiest and simplest way to relax and release your stress. 

When you meditate, you are typically doing or practising deep breathing. During meditation, you are consciously focused on your breathing, filling your lungs up with air, and thus making more oxygen available to your body. Oxygenation of the brain and body reduces excessive anxiety levels. 

The more you practice this, the more it becomes a part of your daily life, which leads to better, deeper breathing patterns.

4. Meditation can increase your tolerance to pain.  

The meditative practice of mindfulness can increase your tolerance to pain. In meditation, you are working towards reducing the pain, not blocking it with medications.

Studies have shown that practicing meditation, in the long run, retrains the brain to deal with pain by changing the brain structure, making you less pain-sensitive. It was also observed in some studies that meditation can help reduce chronic pain (pain which is present for 3 months or more) and anxiety in a subset of people. These results show that mindful individuals are seemingly less caught up in the experience of pain.

5. Meditation is the best solution for stress. 

Have you tried to meditate to manage stress?

The goal of meditation is to focus; you do this by concentrating on your breathing or counting or whatever you are doing. This translates into a more single-minded approach to day-to-day tasks, which increases productivity and also avoids stress and feeling overwhelmed. 

Know that it takes time to establish a regular practice of meditation and experience its rewards. If you sit to meditate with an already overwhelmed life, you will feel that meditation is just another burden. 

Here are quick tips for you to reduce or manage stress with meditation:

  • Meditation will not fix a permanently overwhelmed life. The way to manage your overwhelmed and busy life is to scale back or to slow down, to be able to add meditation to it.

  • Identifying realistic goals and taking on only a certain amount of things in your day-to-day life is important to avoid being overwhelmed. Once you achieve this with proper planning and expectation setting, you will have time to slip meditation into your daily routine, and that in turn, can help you stay calm and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Remember you will be able to reap these unsung benefits of meditation only when you practice it daily. Making important lifestyle adjustments can help you include time for regular meditation. It is important to understand the various forms and techniques of meditation before you start to perform them. 

Consult your physician to take guidance or help on how to start meditating and to identify certified coaches/teachers to help you with the correct techniques of meditation.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.