Meditation and practicing mindfulness are ancient practices which can be found in cultures all across the world. Meditation is healthy and beneficial and relaxes both the body and mind.
But with any subjective practice, you should be wary of misinformation. Depression and anxiety are becoming much more common. Meditation is often touted as a great way to treat some of these issues.
But is that really the case? There have been many recent studies on the question. Take a look at this quick explanation.
What Does the Research Say?
The results of many long-term studies have recently been published. In all cases, participants who meditated had better results than the control groups. These results have been replicated in repeated, double-blind randomized clinical trials.
The science is clear. Meditation can help alleviate the symptoms and occurrence of anxiety and depression. As a healthy lifestyle habit, meditation is also a great way to combat regular, everyday stress.
This is still a brand new area of research, so the intricacies haven’t yet been worked out, but the bottom line is apparent.
How does Meditation Help with these Issues?
Stress and fatigue are major triggers and causes of depression and anxiety. Meditation is a great way to relax, step back, and reassess your feelings.
It’s a proven method that allows you to experience a different perspective and a much-needed sense of calm. Practicing meditation can bring structure and order through healthy habit-building.
Meditation reduces excessive activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain which regulates self-awareness, decision making, planning, and social behavior.
Meditation protects the hippocampus, which handles memory. It can also regulate the amygdala, which controls the glands that release cortisol, the stress hormone.
How do you Meditate?
There are be a lot of ways to practice meditation and mindfulness, but they all have certain characteristics in common. The goal is to achieve a state in which you are simultaneously calm and aware.
Meditate in a familiar, quiet environment. Meditation is most commonly done while sitting cross-legged, with your arms placed on your legs, or any other relaxing position. Most techniques are done with your eyes closed.
Once you’ve prepared, focus on your breath. If any unwanted thoughts appear, acknowledge them, but don’t dwell on them. Recognize that you are not your thoughts.
Focus inward, paying attention to your own subjective experience. Meditation becomes easier with practice.
Things to Keep in Mind
Meditation is a wonderful practice that can help you deal with a host of mental health issues. It’s a healthy, beneficial habit. But anxiety and depression are complex problems. Meditation is one of the tools at your disposal.
You should use it in conjunction with other treatment methods. Meditating and practicing mindfulness is not a panacea. They are not meant to replace medication or therapy.
Rather, just like with exercise and a healthy diet, they are meant to supplement the primary treatments. Above all, if you are facing these issues, don’t be afraid to seek help.