Meditation and mental health
Meditation is about focusing on the present. Meditation can help you feel better and reduce stress. Researchers are also studying mindfulness and related techniques such as relaxation to see if they can help treat various physical and mental health conditions.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on inside and outside of you, moment by moment, and without judging. It means you observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. You are also fully aware of your surroundings.
Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhist meditation principles. However, anyone can practise mindfulness to improve their self-awareness and wellbeing.
Meditating actually changes your brain, and with it, the way your body responds stress. Which works wonders on depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Studies have been suggesting for the past decade that meditation can bring big health benefits, but it wasn’t until recent years that research has looked into exactly how it can change the brain.
Whatever your preferred meditation technique, a common approach is to sit in a comfortable position in a quiet place for five minutes to half an hour (depending on how long you choose to meditate) without outside distractions. Set an alarm if you don’t want to lose track of time, alternatively there are various apps in your app store that will allow you to download and use up to 10 of their meditations for FREE. Meditating every day at around the same time can help you develop a regular habit, and make it easier and quicker to slip into deeply meditative states.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor in order to meditate. You can also sit in a chair or in bed. However it is not recommended to lay down whilst meditating as you might just fall asleep if you try to meditate lying down, which will defeat the purpose.
Relax as you meditate
Trying to meditate is a lot like trying to sleep – attempting to force it can often make it more difficult. Thinking of a meditation session as a chance to relax, rather than as a discipline you have to master, can make a big difference.
If your attention wanders, try to practice acceptance and avoid getting annoyed with yourself. Simply direct your attention back to what you are doing and your experience of that moment.