Does Meditation Work?
Meditation is often praised as a method for finding balance and serenity. More and more people turn to meditation as a way to find peace in a hectic work-week. Some companies like Google and Apple even integrate meditation into work hours for their developers. Meditation is a practice that has persisted for centuries. But what does meditation do for you? Does it really work?
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a process in which you clear your mind and stay in a state of calm. Meditation takes time to get used to, and in many ways is a skill itself. Meditation can be done for short or long periods. Ultimately, meditation is a way to train the mind to raise your awareness.
There are many different forms of meditation, but this is a basic idea of how to meditate. To start, go to a quiet place; and sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes, and simply breathe. Do not try to control your breath, just let your body breathe naturally. Focus on how your breathing affects your body. Notice how your body moves as you breathe. Your chest moves, your rib cage extends out, your shoulders rise and fall. Observe your breathing without trying to control its intensity or pace. If your mind begins to wander, try to return your focus to your breathing.
Meditation as an Antidepressant
A recent study from Johns Hopkins shows a connection between clearing your mind and depression. The study looked into meditation as a way to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Their study showed that the effect size of meditation actually rivaled that of antidepressant medications. However, like antidepressants, meditation is not a silver bullet cure for depression. Depression is a complex issue that is different for everyone.
Preserving the Mind
Meditation has been shown to reduce the effects of aging in the brain. A 2015 study from UCLA showed that people who practice meditation had a greater volume of grey matter than those of the same age that did not meditate. According to the study, meditation seems to help fortify the brain against deterioration from aging; across the whole brain.
Concentration & Meditation
Focus and concentration can be improved by meditation. A study has shown that meditation can improve your cognitive skills dramatically. Even just a couple of weeks of meditation could benefit your focus and memory skills. This is part of why many companies, such as Google, have added meditation spaces into their offices.
Meditation and Grief
Meditation can be helpful in making you feel calm and relaxed. Because of this, it can be a helpful tool in the grieving process. Taking the time to clear your mind and relax can be very important in self-care and overcoming grief. Grief can make nights restless with thoughts of your loved one. But meditation can help you put your mind at ease. Meditation helps ease stress and reduce muscle tension and headaches; which are all common symptoms of grief.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
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