You may have heard people talk about the benefits of meditation, but did you know that science has actually proven it works?
Research has shown that mediation can improve symptoms of stress, irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.
When we are stressed, we increase levels of cortisol in our body and increase chemicals known as cytokines.
As such, this can affect your sleep, increase blood pressure and promote feelings of anxiety and depression.
Yet in an eight-week study, where participants meditated on a regular basis, these stress hormones were reduced.
The study also showed that meditation helped reduce anxiety and improved stress reactivity and coping.
Some forms of meditation have also been proven to lead to improved self-image and positive outlook on life.
A review of 18 studies showed that people who meditated experienced fewer negative thoughts, compared to those that didn’t.
They also found that the participants had reduced levels of cytokines, which often lead to mood swings and depression.
Meditation also can help you lengthen your attention span, leading to better focus and clarity.
One study also found that meditation helped reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to worrying, mind wandering and poor attention spans.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, meditation is also a great way to help induce a better-quality night’s sleep.
One study found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and improved their insomnia greatly.
So how much do you need to meditate for? Even for a short period is beneficial.
One study showed that meditating for just 13 minutes a day saw benefits after eight weeks.
Furthermore, you can meditate anywhere. It can be at home, on the bus or even at work. You just need to find a quiet spot and focus your attention on your breath and your thoughts and the surrounding sounds.
Allowing yourself to centre your mind, collect your thoughts and be compassionate with any feelings of angst, will help you enter your state of meditation and improve your stress levels.
If you find you have trouble guiding yourself through the meditation, you can also listen to a self-guided tape or find a meditation circle to join.