Benefits of Mindfulness
I want to take the time today to really illustrate the amount of research being done around mindfulness meditation. I have a lot of academic and smart-sounding information to share with you, and after that I’m going to close out by chatting a bit about how to actually meditate properly.
We’ll talk about the why you should with discussing scientific studies on meditation. Then we’ll talk about the how you do it so you can start today.
There is a growing body of research suggesting that meditation can have a range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Some of the most commonly cited benefits include:
- Reduced stress: Meditation has been shown to reduce stress levels by decreasing the production of stress hormones like cortisol.
- Improved focus and concentration: Practicing meditation regularly can improve cognitive function, including attention, concentration, and memory.
- Reduced anxiety and depression: Studies have shown that meditation can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by reducing activity in the area of the brain that does most of the chattering.
- Increased feelings of well-being: Regular meditation practice has been shown to increase feelings of positivity, gratitude, and overall well-being.
- Lower blood pressure: Several studies have suggested that meditation can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improved sleep: Meditation can help improve the quality of sleep, especially for those who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders.
- Pain relief: Some studies have suggested that meditation can help reduce pain, especially chronic pain.
In recent years, mindfulness has become a popular technique for stress reduction and personal growth, and has been widely studied and applied in fields such as psychology, medicine, and education. It is often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy and self-care, and is considered to be a foundational skill in many meditation and spiritual practices.
Everyone’s practicing mindfulness these days, which is fucking awesome. Let’s keep it up! And let’s move onto the specific studies being done regarding the impact of meditation.
Advantages of Mediation
One of the earliest and most well-known studies of mindfulness meditation was conducted by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a scientist and meditation teacher who developed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in the 1970s. He literally wrote the book on Mindfulness for Beginners (that’s the title).
Kabat-Zinn’s research involved studying the effects of mindfulness meditation on individuals with chronic pain, who had not responded well to traditional medical treatments. In his study, he taught participants mindfulness meditation techniques, such as focusing on the breath and practicing non-judgmental awareness of their thoughts and feelings.
The results of the study were striking, with participants reporting significant reductions in their pain levels, as well as improvements in mood, stress levels, and overall quality of life. Kabat-Zinn’s study sparked a growing interest in the use of mindfulness meditation as a tool for promoting health and wellbeing, and paved the way for further research in this area.
Since then, numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of mindfulness meditation for a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and addiction. While the exact mechanisms underlying these effects are still not fully understood, the evidence suggests that mindfulness meditation can have profound effects on the brain, body, and emotional wellbeing, and is a promising tool for promoting mental and physical health.
In my own research for this episode, I have learned that the number of studies being done on mindfulness and meditation are growing exponentially by the year.
- A 2010 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.
- A 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that mindfulness meditation can increase positive emotions and reduce symptoms of depression.
- A 2012 study published in the journal Emotion found that mindfulness meditation can improve emotion regulation and reduce stress reactivity.
- A 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that MBSR can be an effective treatment for depression, with participants showing significant improvements in depressive symptoms.
- A 2014 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that mindfulness meditation can improve attentional control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.
- A 2015 study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found that mindfulness meditation can increase self-awareness and reduce mind-wandering.
- A 2016 study published in the journal Mindfulness found that mindfulness meditation can improve interpersonal relationships by reducing negative self talk and increasing positive self talk.
- A 2017 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement found that mindfulness meditation can improve cognitive function, including attention and working memory.
- A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans.
- A 2019 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that a brief mindfulness meditation intervention can reduce cortisol levels, which are a marker of stress.
- A 2020 study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that mindfulness-based interventions can improve sleep quality in individuals with insomnia.
These studies are just a few examples of the growing body of searching being done on mindfulness and mediation. It’s so exciting to see science and spirituality merging together!
Now that we finally comprehend the importance of mediation on our spiritual, mental, and physical health, let’s move on to how to actually do the damn thing.
How to Meditate Properly
When I first began to meditate in my early twenties, I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing. Or, not doing? Even though I had read more than a few books and blogs on how to meditate, I wasn’t convinced I was actually doing the meditation thing “correctly.”
I would sit down, focus on my breathing, and then….that was it. I wasn’t sure if I was missing something, or if I misunderstood what I was “supposed” to be doing during meditation.
It all seemed very mysterious! But in the best kind of way. I proceeded practicing despite being completely clueless.
Several years of practicing meditation regularly have passed, and I’ve gained a MUCH better understanding of what it really means to meditate. And now I want to help other beginners who want to learn how to meditate, but are feeling stuck like I was.
So if you’re wondering how to meditate properly, I would suggest simply following the steps for a beginner meditation practice outlined in this episode as best you can. If you do, you’ll be meditating “properly.”
At first I felt like I was just pretending to meditate. Can you relate? When I look back, I can see how I actually was meditating. I was just second-guessing myself and over-complicating it.
And recently, I’ve realized that almost everyone over-complicates meditation at first. It seems to be the most common roadblock to mindfulness. We’re all very concerned with “meditating properly,” so we end up counteracting the teachings of meditation by constantly evaluating our performance and progress.
But what I’ve learned by meditating “improperly” is that doing it correctly isn’t really the point. And there isn’t only one way to meditate. Everyone’s take on the practice will be personal and different.
What matters more is how the practice betters our lives and ourselves. Over time, you will develop your own unique style of meditation—and that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable.
How To Meditate Spiritually
don’t believe you need to consider yourself spiritual to practice mindfulness meditation. However, it’s a slippery slope! In the absolute best way.
What happens when we consistently practice taking a step back from the thinking mind and dropping into the subconscious mind is profound realizations that there’s so much beyond the world we’ve created inside our own head.
Obviously, we understand this already on a superficial level. Of course, there’s a whole physical world around us, not to mention the entirety of SPACE.
But what I’m talking about is the whole other world that exists parallel to ours, that we’re intimately connected to: Spirit! Or Heaven. Or The Other Side.
If you want to use your meditation practice to connect intentionally with Spirit, you’re in luck because it’s incredibly easy to do once you’ve formed the meditating habit.
There’s a veil between our two parallel worlds that’s kind of like a frosted window. The more we meditate, the clearer the window becomes.
And that’s because when you live on the train of thought and you never get off, you are not living in a high enough vibration to even perceive the window. So when you practice getting off the train, going beyond the ego, it gets easier to look through the window.
I love analogies. Especially when I can combine them together in a clumsy way that barely make sense 😁
Spiritual meditation can be much more intentional than “regular” mediation. It’s a great primer for other modalities and practices, effortlessly fitting into everything.
To practice spiritual meditation, practice setting intentions for your meditations. You can also consider supporting this show so you can have access to a whole virtual vault filled with spiritual guided meditations! Spirituallyinspired.co/membership
Your support of the show enables me to do super awesome in depth, heavily researched episodes like this and I wanted to say an extra huge THANK YOU!
If you’d like to show your gratitude for Spiritually Inspired, you can join the membership I mentioned before at spirituallyinspired.co/membership, or just buy me a coffee by going to spirituallyinspired.co/donations.
Thank you so much for reading. I’m your host and manifesting coach Sara Rae, and as you go on your way today, know that I’m sending you an abundance of love, light, and inspiration. Blessed be!