There are many benefits to meditation – mental, physical, and spiritual. Many people who meditate do so everyday as a way to center themselves and enrich their days. This practice becomes a habit engrained into their everyday life. Without this consistency, even habitual meditators claim their days are less fulfilling, lack purpose, and are more stressful.
What is meditation?
Merriam-Webster defines the word meditate as to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. A common form of meditation is mindfulness, where the person focuses the mind on an idea or motion such as the breath. Focusing on the breath allows one to let unnecessary thoughts drift away and provides peace and tranquility to the meditator. Meditation practice has been around since 1500 BCE and is apart of multiple religious traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
Today, modern meditation holds onto no religious beliefs and is instead used as a way to reduce stress, and increase levels of peace, perception, and well-being.
Benefits of Meditation
There are many benefits of meditation but one of the biggest reasons people meditate is to reduce stress. Stress is very harmful to the body both physically and mentally. It's proven that stress significantly weakens the immune system which can consequently lead to many other health issues.
Stress causes increased levels of the cortisol hormone. This increase in cortisol can cause sleep problems, increase anxiety and depression, and lead to high blood pressure. It can even lead to physical fatigue and poor judgement. Meditation has been shown to noticeably reduce these symptoms of stress and promote healthy levels of cortisol. This means meditation helps not only reduce stress, but also improve physical and mental health.
Another benefit to meditation is improving emotional health. Often times when we're stressed, we simply don't see situations clearly. This can lead to all sorts of emotional trauma and conditions. However, meditation has been shown to improve one’s body image and have positive impacts on one’s outlook on life. This allows meditation to be a great tool for those suffering from depression or mood disorders. Meditation can slow the mind down and give the mind the opportunity to view oneself with more clarity.
For those struggling with depression, anxiety, or body image issues – meditation can be a life changing tool to help improve one’s emotional health.
Perhaps the greatest benefits of meditation is the enhancement of self-awareness. In order to understand others, one must understand themselves. Meditation helps drive deeper self-awareness and understanding of oneself. Once you fully understand yourself you can start to make positive change. Knowing one’s flaws, strengths, and weaknesses only makes one stronger in the long run. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make and meditation gives you the ability to identify and make long lasting changes in your life. If you are someone who wants to improve as a human being physically, mentally, and spiritually then meditation is a crucial step to reaching your goals.
Coffee and Meditation
One of the hardest things to do is to meditate when you're tired. This isn't a a recommended practice. You don't want a meditation session to turn into a nap session.
In light of this, some people incorporate coffee into their morning or even evening meditation routines. Being that coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, it aids in helping you staying focused, present, and awake.
Of course, coffee affects everyone differently. For some, coffee prevent them from entering a calm and collective state of mind. If your toes end up twitching throughout the session, then perhaps reduce the amount of coffee or just remove it out of the equation.
Either way, if you do choose to drink coffee before meditation, be sure to observe how it effects you. Consider whether the coffee is making you feel restless or focused and adjust accordingly.
Meditation is a great tool to incorporate into your life if you are trying to grow as an individual. Remember, life is a daily journey and any time you make an effort to improve yourself (however that looks), then you're making progress. Whether you are just starting or have been meditating all your life, the positive effects from meditation can be felt after just one session.