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Why You Should Meditate Every Day

Van Gogh: Starry Night

Van Gogh: Starry Night

Information flood

We live in a rushing society, where we get new and new information, every single second. We look at our phone just for a second, and we see so many things 'This liked that' , 'This commented on that' , 'This and this are on a picture together' . Our brain is basically flooded with information.

Because of the huge Internet consumption, or let's face it: Internet addiction, we live in right now, many parts of our lives, are getting worse and worse.

Emotionally, Internet addiction has lots of effects on us, such as:

  • Feelings of guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dishonesty
  • Euphoric feelings when in front of the computer
  • Unable to keep schedules
  • No sense of time
  • Isolation
  • Defensiveness
  • Avoiding doing work
  • Agitation

Physical symptoms include:

  • Backache
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Disturbances in sleep
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Blurred or strained vision

"Recent research suggests that excess use of the internet over prolonged periods of time may negatively affect some cognitive functions, particularly attention and short-term memory. Since using the internet often involves our ability to multi-task between different settings—and somehow trains our brains to quickly shift focus to the stream of pop-ups, prompts, and notifications—this may, in fact, interfere with our ability to maintain focus on a particular cognitive task for extended times. In other words, our ability to perform our daily activities involves a combination between our ability to multi-task and shift attention between different tasks, and our ability to maintain attention on a particular topic. While digital multi-tasking may be a good practice for shifting focus, it may also weaken our ability to maintain focus on one area for an extended period of time. So it may make us more easily distractible because it reduces our ability to ignore distractions. In addition to its negative effects on cognition, excess internet use has been associated with a higher risk for depression and anxiety, and can make us feel isolated and/or overwhelmed."

why-you-should-meditate-every-day

Meditation

"Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state."

Meditation has been practiced since 1500 BCE antiquity in numerous religious traditions, often as part of the path towards enlightenment and self realization. The earliest records of meditation (Dhyana) derive from the Hindu traditions of Vedantism, and meditation exerts a salient role in the contemplative repertoire of Hinduism and Buddhism. Although meditation is popularly associated with Dharmic religions, other types of meditation have also influenced the spiritual dimensions of Abrahamic religions. Since the 19th century, Asian meditative techniques have spread to other cultures where they have also found application in non-spiritual contexts, such as business and health.

Forms of meditation

In the West, meditation techniques have sometimes been thought of in two broad categories: focused (or concentrative) meditation and open monitoring (or mindfulness) meditation.

Focused methods include paying attention to the breath, to an idea or feeling (such as loving-kindness), to a kōan, or to a mantra (such as in transcendental meditation).

Open monitoring methods include mindfulness, shikantaza and other awareness states.

Buddha

Buddha

Benefits of Meditation

  • Reduces Stress

One study including over 3,500 adults showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction. Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. Mindfulness meditation can lower the levels of cortisol — the stress hormone —which helps you feel more relaxed. Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

  • Better Focus and Concentration

Mindfulness meditation helps you focus on the present, which can improve your concentration on other tasks in daily life.

A 2011 study from the Harvard Medical School examined the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and found a connection between mindfulness and processing new information.

The researchers examined the brains of 17 people before and after participating in an eight-week meditation program. Brain scans showed an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and emotional regulation.

Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention. One review concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying and poor attention. Even meditating for a short period may benefit you.

One study found that four days of practicing meditation may be enough to increase attention span.

  • Controls Anxiety

Less stress equals less anxiety.

Mindfulness meditation helps train your mind to focus on the present, making you less likely to ruminate on anxious thoughts that can fuel depression.

A 2014 research analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindful meditation can help ease anxiety and depression, and could be part of a comprehensive mental health treatment plan.

Research has also supported the benefits of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) - a therapy program that incorporates mindfulness meditation. Studies have found that MBSR can help those with anxiety calm their minds and reduce symptoms of depression, including trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, and low mood.

  • Improves Self-Esteem, Self-Awareness

Some forms of meditation can also lead to an improved self-image and more positive outlook on life. It encourages you to slow down, allows for deeper self-reflection, and can help you discover positive attributes about yourself.

According to researchers at Stanford University, mindfulness meditation can especially help those with social anxiety. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 14 participants with social anxiety disorder participated in two months of meditation training and reported decreased anxiety and improved self-esteem after completing the program.

Self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you. Other forms teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns.

  • Fight Addiction

The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors. Meditation can alter the brain receptors associated with drug and alcohol addiction, which may reduce cravings for these substances.

  • Improves Sleep

Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point.

One study compared two mindfulness-based meditation programs by randomly assigning participants to one of two groups. One group practiced meditation, while the other didn’t.

Participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn’t meditate.

Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or “runaway” thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.

  • Makes You More Kind/Loving

Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others. It strengthens circuits in the brain that pick up on other people's emotions, promotes altruistic behavior, and decreases the implicit or unconscious bias responsible for perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself.

Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends, then acquaintances and ultimately enemies.

  • Can Decrease Blood Pressure

Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function. High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

A study of 996 volunteers found that when they meditated by concentrating on a “silent mantra” — a repeated, non-vocalized word — reduced blood pressure by about five points, on average.

This was more effective among older volunteers and those who had higher blood pressure prior to the study.

A review concluded that several types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure.

In part, meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations.

why-you-should-meditate-every-day

Mindblowing

  • It’s estimated that 200–500 million people meditate worldwide.
  • Meditation can reduce the wake time of people with insomnia by 50%.
  • Mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder 73% of the time.
  • Almost 10 times more children used meditation in 2017 than they did in 2012.
  • 52% of employers provided mindfulness classes or training to their employees in 2018.
  • School suspensions were reduced by 45% thanks to meditation.
  • Headspace, a meditation app, has had about 40 million downloads.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Lili Zoltai