10 Important things you should know about meditation
If you mention meditation, most people will think straight away of a group of unwashed hippies, sitting cross legged in a field, smoking some slightly unusual smelling cigarettes and singing ‘ummmmm’. But meditation has come a long way since then and has now been scientifically proven to help reduce stress, improve happiness and be beneficial for both physical and mental health. So, put aside all your preconceptions and read out ten things about meditation that you may not have known:
1. You don’t need to be religious to meditate
It is true that meditation is an important part of some religions, but religion does not have a monopoly over meditation. Anyone can practice meditation, it is more a way of focussing your mind, developing calmness, practicing mindfulness and losing all the unnecessary thoughts from your mind, than it is about any particular chosen religion.
2. You don’t have to spend hours and hours meditating
Few people today have hours a day to spare for meditation and you don’t need to spend that much time meditating anyway. Some of the busiest and most successful business people in the world use meditation to keep their minds clear and focussed, and it can take as little as fifteen to twenty minutes a day to reap the benefits.
3. Meditation isn’t hard to learn
You might have images of a dedicated monk, sitting alone in a temple spending his entire life learning the art of meditation, but it’s just not like that, anyone can learn how to meditate. Most people recommend attending some classes, but you can buy books and audio lessons as well that will teach you the techniques.
4. Meditation can make you more alert
In one study, some students were split into three groups. The first group then watched some television, the second group had a nap and the third were asked to meditate. Later, when they were tested for alertness; the group who had meditated were scored higher on the alertness test, than both the TV watchers and the sleepers.
5. Meditation can reduce pain
Where morphine can reduce severe pain by approximately 25%, it has been found that meditation can reduce the perception of pain by up to 50%. Scientists, who tested this, found that even though the brain was registering the pain, those people that had practiced meditation reported that they could not feel the pain to the same degree.
6. Meditation can help to reduce blood pressure
Meditation has been found to reduce the need for medication for sufferers of high blood pressure. In a medical study, 40 out of a total of 60 patients showed a significant drop in their blood pressure following their taking up meditation and their doctor was able to reduce their medication dosage as a result.
7. Meditation can improve your memory
Some schools are now introducing meditation into their school timetable. It has been shown to improve children’s attention in class, their behaviour and their ability to retain facts.
8. Meditation can make you happier
People who practice meditation are generally happier in their lives. Again, science has tested this theory by monitoring some Buddhist monks during meditation and they found that the monk’s pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that makes you happy, was extra active during meditation.
9. It doesn’t take long for meditation to start working
You can start to feel the benefits of meditation in just a few weeks. You can begin to feel calmer and less stressed very quickly and even sufferers of more severe anxiety and depression problems were reported to have experienced significant benefits in under eight weeks.
10. The effects of meditation last all day long
The real benefits of meditation are not in the period that you spend meditating, but in what you take with you from that meditation. People who regularly practice meditation say that they take a stillness and a calmness away from their sessions that help them cope with various events throughout the day.
Do you practice meditation? Have you already experienced benefits of mediation? Please, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.