Reasons Why You Should Meditate

Meditation is a powerful tool that everyone can use. Find relief from stress (and gain some other health benefits) in just five minutes a day.

Girl sitting next to lake meditating, the benefits of meditation 

If you’ve done even basic research on meditation, it probably seems baffling, and maybe even a little boring. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find meditation isn’t boring at all. In fact, it’s downright fascinating and its benefits are astounding. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to: The research has already been done.

Related: Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Reduces anxiety­ 

Though there is evidence anxiety is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, many psychologists agree that it’s often triggered by future-thinking—worrying about events that haven’t occurred yet, and that may actually cause a chemical imbalance.

Meditation forces you to focus on the present, interrupting the constant flow of worry. Studies suggest that not only can meditation have short-term benefits, but its long-term benefits may lead to a permanent lessening of generalized anxiety.

A Utah-based cosmetics company incorporated a weekly meditation class into its workday, and consensus among participating employees was that meditation greatly improved stress, anxiety, and depression. A regular participant of the meditation class says, “Meditation helps me stay aware of what I’m feeling and my mental, emotional, and physical state. Because I’m aware of it, I’m not as reactive to things; I’m more responsive. Things don’t affect me like they used to. I find a lot more peace in general with life.”

Mindfulness through meditation is repeatedly proven to significantly decrease anxiety and maintain that reduction with continued practice. 

Alleviates depression

Experts say mindfulness and regular meditation can significantly lessen depression. Even 2.5 hours of meditation per week offers measurably improved depression. That’s roughly 21 minutes per day, and meditation is completely free and doesn’t require special equipment or training.

Related: 4 Healthy Reasons to Hug More

Helps manage pain

In a study testing mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, 120 women with breast cancer were randomized to either an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction class or to more standard supportive care. After four months, the women who meditated experienced significantly improved coping mechanisms compared to the women who experienced standard supportive care. While pain medication is sometimes necessary, narcotics come with their own set of problems. Meditation can also help with chronic pain management.

Study after study proves the benefits of meditation, both in the short and long terms. It’s free, has no negative side effects, and can be performed anywhere without any equipment. Though it may feel initially uncomfortable (after all, we’re a society trained to be distracted and anxious), meditation gets easier the more you try.

Start with this basic guide to meditation and then don’t stop, even if it’s challenging. Begin with short meditation practices—just five minutes or so—then gradually increase as you get more comfortable. You’ll find that meditation isn’t boring or absurd: It’s a remarkable tool that can retrain your brain and improve your quality of life.

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