When we think of health today, we often think of physical health. We tend to believe that someone who holds a balanced diet and exercises regularly is in perfect health. While both of these things do lead to a healthier body they don’t always lead to a healthier mind.
Mental health is also a huge component to the overall health of an individual, although it tends to be treated as secondary to physical fitness. Being mindful about what you are feeding your body is vital, but you should also consider what you are feeding your mind and soul. You might be adequately exercising your physical strength but under exercising your mental strength. The training of the mind is arguably just as important as training of the physical form.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of teaching when it comes to how to provide for yourself mentally. We tend to be adequately informed on how to eat healthier and how to engage in physical activity, but we often don’t know how to calm our racing minds or treat our souls with kindness. For many individuals, meditation is the most beneficial way to prioritize their mental health and practice training of the mind.
What is meditation?
Meditation can have various definitions and spiritual meanings. In essence. meditation is the practice of centering the mind in order to clear your head and refocus your thoughts. While meditation has previously been used for spiritual and religious reasons only, it is now common for individuals to practice meditation in their private and professional lives outside of their spirituality.
A common term used alongside meditation is mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about bringing your thoughts to the present and releasing your thoughts about the moments to come. Engaging in the present is what meditations seeks to achieve as it allows you to disconnect from stress, anxiety, and fear.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation is much like physical activity in the sense that not every participant will share the same experiences or reap the same benefits. Although, meditation has been known to not only provide mental benefits but physical benefits as well.
According to The Art of Living, the physical benefits of meditation can include:
- A decrease in high blood pressure
- An improved immune system
- Increase in positive mood and behavior
- Higher energy levels
The mental benefits of meditation are:
- Decrease in feelings of anxiety
- Increase in happiness
- Creativity boosts
- A sharper and clearer mind
- The ability to better handle and cope with feelings such as anger frustration, and sadness.
As busy college students some weeks we find ourselves stressed with course work, low on energy, and sick from the germs swarming in our community bathrooms. Although, meditation is not the solution to every problem you might face its benefits serve to show that a mind practicing meditation is a mind that can better handle the obstacles set in its path.
Tips for beginning meditation
By now I hope you are at least the slightest bit interested in engaging in meditation. Due to the numerous benefits and the simplicity of the practice, meditation is a very rewarding and achievable experience to be had. If you are thinking about giving it a try, here are some helpful tips.
- Don’t set any any expectations for yourself
It is all too often that individuals treat meditation as a task to complete on their checklist. With this attitude meditation becomes more of a challenge or conquest than it does an experience. To reap the full benefits of meditation approach the practice with an open mind. Don’t expect yourself to be skilled at mindfulness upon your first try. It is very challenging to not let your mind wander and to stay focused and calm. Meditation is a practice because it takes time to develop skills and become successful;. Remember to always have grace with yourself and that providing yourself the time to meditation is already an achievement into bettering your mental health
2. Don’t be afraid of guided meditation
One of the great things about the practice of non-spiritual meditation is the creation of apps and websites that provide guided meditations. A guided meditation instructs you on how to practice the centering of thoughts and encourages you to fall into a deep state of relaxation. Although some might argue that meditation needs to occur in a place separate from all technology and distractions, guided meditations are a great way to begin your journey and gain knowledge on what techniques benefit you the most. There are a plethora of services, and apps that provide these walkthroughs so just experiment with a few and find what makes meditation the most enjoyable and rewarding for you specifically.
3. Make the most out of your experience
Customizing meditation to your needs and wants is acceptable and vital. Maybe you schedule doesn’t allow for a 30 minute deep relaxation. This is okay, and in no way does this mean meditation is not for you. Meditation can be whatever you make of it. Take a few moments in between classes to breath and recenter yourself. Practice for a few seconds before turning on your car while traveling to work. Meditation is portable and can be practiced anywhere an at anytime.
Remember, meditation might not be for all individuals and this is okay. Prioritizing your mental health can look like many different activities and practices not just meditation alone. Whatever you do, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and engage in something that beneficial to your mind, body and soul.