On average, ten million people around the world undertake a form of meditation practice per day (BBC, 2017). In Australia, about one in six adults practice meditation (Pascoe, 2018). The purpose of meditation is different for each individual. The aim of meditation is to attain an inner state of awareness and intensify personal and spiritual growth (Yogapedia, n.d.). Well-being is the state of a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health factors, strongly linking to health and happiness. Multiple forms of meditation can be undertaken, solely determined by personal preference.
Meditation has multiple benefits contributing to overall health and wellbeing, positively impacting the brain. Through upkeeping, a constant meditation practice can lead to significant benefits on overall wellbeing.
Meditation is the practice of becoming awake, becoming more alive, and aware of the present moment. Familiarising the body with good virtues, additionally, transforming the mind to a good state. Meditation is commonly mistaken for relaxing and leaving the mind, it is, in fact, the contrary, whilst meditation is relaxing, we are becoming mindful rather than mindless, working together with our minds. Everyday life is extremely dependent on the mind. The mind creates reality, therefore, working with your mind, ultimately results in working with the source of happiness. Meditation not only heals spirit but additionally the mind and body (BBC, 2017). Meditation aids in coping with everyday life and improving overall wellbeing (Healthdirect, 2018).
Well-being is important, and a fundamental element to the overall health of an individual. Well-being enables an individual to effectively overcome difficulties and produce optimal achievement in everyday life. Past experiences, trauma, attitudes, and outlook can all contribute to and impact wellbeing negatively (Starjumpz, 2019). Meditation improves wellbeing as by learning to pay attention to what is occurring in our surroundings and within, adjustments can be made leading to significant changes to wellbeing.
Through meditation, wellbeing is improved by picking up cues about the mental state at a quicker rate, slowing the activity of the brain. Well-being is enhanced through meditation by learning to gain attention to what’s happening around and inside. From this, adjustments can be made, resulting in significant changes in wellbeing. “By using diaphragmatic breathing and mindfulness meditation we can more easily access the relaxation response which enables our immune system to be healthier, tissue and cell repair to happen, the heart rate to quieten.” (Michael, 2019).
Multiple studies demonstrate that meditation positively impacts mental and physical health. Whether it’s reducing stress, improving sleep quality, increasing focus, or improving relationships, the research identifies that mediation is key.
In a recent interview with meditation teacher, Melanie Michael, the benefits that she has obtained through meditation, were discussed. “I have become a lot less reactive to the frustrating things that happen in life. I know when I start to feel stressed and can make small adjustments that make a difference to my headspace. I sleep better. My relationships have improved. I am more in the moment with my children. I am more tolerant with my children. I am more focused. I am less judgmental of myself and others.” (Michael, 2019).
Meditation provides a gain in awareness and day-to-day thought processes. Meditation allows the ability to concentrate and focus more, whilst remaining in the present moment, rather than wandering from the past to the future. Thorough gaining space in the mind, enables gaining space to act throughout life in a skillful, considered, and healthy way, rather than react in an immediate, negative, habitual, and destructive way. “We are controlled by our thoughts. It means that if you get up in the morning and feel unhappy, you become an unhappy person. You feel depressed, you become a depressed person you feel anxious, you become an anxious person. In reality, it’s just the food it’s just the thought.” (Clinic, 2019). This suggests that being in control over personal thoughts, and obtaining power over these thoughts, there becomes a choice to let that go.
People commonly turn to a form of meditation practice as a solution in managing stress levels. Stress is the body’s method in response to pressure. Stress is caused by both good and bad experiences. Too much stress can affect physical and mental health, however, in many cases, stress is a healthy reaction in coping with life’s challenges. Stress is common, and the result of ongoing stress contributes to a range of onset psychological issues including anxiety and depression. The body’s automatic stress response is controlled by the automatic nervous system. The automatic nervous system plays a vital role in stress reactivity through the sympathetic nervous system, the main function of mobilizing the body to fight or flee from stressful or threatening situations. Furthermore, the parasympathetic nervous system counterbalances the sympathetic nervous system and returns the body to its baseline state (Pascoe, ABC, 2018). The sympathetic nervous system increases heart rate, blood pressure, and the downstream release of stress-related hormones, on the contrary, the parasympathetic nervous system reduces these factors.
Increased variability of heart rate, which plays a vital role in transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. In a study where meditators and no meditators were given the flu virus, meditators were able to produce a greater number of antibodies and had increased immune function. Changes can be seen on a cellular level. Chromosomes have protective protein complexes called telomeres which help reduce damage to your DNA. A shortened telomere length has been linked to several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. When cancer survivors completed a meditation program, their bodies demonstrated significant increases in telomere length. It is believed that psychological intervention particularly decreases decreasing stress has a direct effect on the enzyme telomerase which has been shown to counteract by adding DNA to the shrinking telomeres. Meditation is not a substitute for other medical advice, however, meditation acts as the working out of your brain, and provides man health benefits (Rachel Salt, 2015).
Undertaking a daily practice of meditation should result in significant changes to one’s mental state.
The access to multiple meditation techniques often provokes confusion but is simpler than it appears. Meditation commonly begins by sitting in a quiet surrounding, closing the eyes, calming the mind, and focusing on breathing. Through mediation, essentially enriches compassion and awareness. This is due as the mind is being trained to stop being easily distracted, and rather, be focused in the present moment. “Any meditation is better than no meditation, but for best results as often as you can. It could be as short as a 5-minute meditation on some days and a 20-30-minute meditation on other days. Whatever you can fit in.” (Michael, 2019).
The mind’s initial response and nature are to think. Meditation is not about stopping thoughts, the practice is to become more observant in thinking without getting caught within thoughts and emotions. It is learned to tame restlessness by developing awareness for the moments when attention has wandered.
Through a diverse range of techniques and forms, meditation provides accessibility for everyone. Any meditation is better than none, but achieving optimum results, will allow for the greatest results. In particular, it was found through constant, and consistent practice, overall wellbeing is enhanced immensely. With enhanced wellbeing, the quality of everyday life is enriched to live life at its maximum potential. Not only is everyday life enriched, but relationships with loved ones and outlook on situations are perceived positively living happier.