The Top Mental Health Benefits of Meditation

Over the last several years, more and more people have started practicing meditation as a way to stave off stress and health problems related to stress. When you start practicing meditation on a regular basis, your brain’s physiology changes. This mental shift helps to decrease the harmful effects of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. Here are the top three mental health benefits of practicing meditation on a regular basis.

Preserves the Aging Brain

Various studies of the last several years have revealed that when you are in your 20s, your brain begins to decline. This reduction in volume and weight continues throughout your life. Practicing meditation on a daily basis can help prevent many of the neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia. It can also help to stave off the cognitive decline that comes with age. 

Meditating regularly can also help to increase the protective tissues in your brain. When you engage in meditation, you’re introduced to states of intense relaxation and concentration which leads to the growth of new cells. This helps to protect against shrinkage of your grey matter.

Reduces Stress

One of the main reasons why people practice the art of meditation is to find relief from depression, stress, and anxiety. Regular meditation practice helps to reduce the levels of stress and depression, both physically and mentally. When you experience stress or a sudden threat, your body enters into a flight or fight mode. This leads to an immediate rush of adrenaline, which can cause an increase in your blood pressure, pulse rate, and increase blood flow. Meditation helps to relieve these symptoms of stress. 

Need help getting your Meditation Practice started? Have a look at my free course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice

Training your mind through the various meditation techniques works to increase the mental resources that can help you address stress and depression-related symptoms. The mind becomes clearer, more focused, and calmer, which automatically leads to the reduction of stress.

Improve Attention

In just over a decade, researchers have measured a decline in our average attention span, from 12 seconds to only eight seconds. That’s a whopping 33 percent decrease, and just one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish. Practicing meditation can help improve your attention span, by optimizing the flow of sensory information that your brain takes in. Meditation helps to make your brain much more efficient at processing information.  

If the hectic pace of today’s 24/7 society has your mind reeling, starting a regular practice of meditation can help. With just ten minutes a day, you can start seeing a reduction in your stress levels and an increase in your overall attention span. 

The Basic Elements of Meditation

Life can get a little crazy. The hectic pace and demands that we often face on a daily basis tend to leave us feeling stressed, tired, overworked, and unhappy. Mindfulness meditation is an easy and effective way to relax your body, calm your mind, and become grounded, finding inner peace amidst the chaos. The basic elements that are involved in the practice of meditation include finding a quiet place to practice, having a poised posture that is comfortable, getting an object to focus on, and being able to develop a passive attitude without any attachments. 

Learn about the best meditation postures here

The Place

If you are just starting your meditation practice, it is important to start the process off right by finding a place that is comfortable. You need a space that will allow you to feel completely relaxed and free of distractions. Before you begin your practice, you need to turn things off, like your cell phone or any form of device that would be distracting. 

The Posture

Another basic element that you need to work on is maintaining a good body posture as you meditate. The posture that you take can impact how your practice goes. While the most natural posture you can take is the sitting position, you need to choose a pose that makes you feel comfortable and focused. Try to avoid using postures that can lead to falling asleep, like lying down or reclining. 

The Object

When you begin a practice of meditation, you need to have an object that you can focus on. The object can either be a repeated mantra, focusing on the breathing process, bodily sensations, or any other object like the flame from a candle. Engaging in meditation that will enhance your level of concentration requires that you have an object to focus on.

The Attitude

The final basic element that you need for successful meditation practice is a positive attitude. When you have a positive attitude, you can look at the external distractions and your internal thoughts in a different way. Having a passive attitude allows you to watch the thoughts as they come and go in your mind, without having any attachments to them.

During the process of meditation, it is important to stay focused. If you notice that your mind has started wandering, bring your attention back to the object of focus. These basic elements of meditation can help you get started on the path to clarity and awareness. 

Need some additional resources? Try my free E-Course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice, to help get you started.

Reiki Practitioners- returning to your practice

One of the blessings of Reiki is that I have met people I would not have met had I not learned this healing modality. I have met several individuals in my medical practice, personally, and in social media who share with me that at some point in their lives they learned Reiki I or II or even Reiki Master but over the years have forgotten to continue practicing.

These individuals will have to share that so much time has passed that they don’t feel connected to the energy of Reiki.

Herein lies a true gift of Reiki that we often forget. Once you have been attuned to Reiki you are attuned your whole life. You are always connected with the energy and it never goes away. Of course, if you’re not practicing it is easy to forget that you have this gift at your hands.

I advise individuals that the easiest way to reconnect is simply to start performing Reiki on yourself on a regular basis. It is best to do a full treatment from head to toe, however if your life circumstance does not allow the time or place for this even a three minute treatment is better than nothing.

I’ve noticed that many of these individuals often don’t have dedicated space in their home, office, or anywhere in their life that they can practice their healing art. In my course, Starting Your Own Meditation Practice, I give brief advice on how to reclaim that space for yourself. If you don’t have a space you can go to you may need to create one.

Once you know where you would like to start your daily Reiki practice consider setting a timer or a reminder in your calendar. It’s simply a good habit that you’re trying to get back to. Plan to treat yourself for 21 days daily. If you recall in your initial attunement you had a 21-day. Of self treatment that allowed for self-improvement.

Once you decide to return to your practice try not to focus too much on feeling the energy flow or any specific outcome. You may recall when you first learned Reiki you may not have had immediate response or felt anything right away. But if you give it time, your own body’s ability to heal will become apparent to you and it will come to you easily.

I practice Reiki on myself daily. I did not always do this but in the last 2 years because of transitions and stress in my own life I found this to be a lifesaver. There are times I do only a brief 15 minute session and there are times I do a full session that I last more than an hour.

If you need any help getting started I have created a short 9 minute self treatment meditation track that you can find below. I do hope this helps any Reiki practitioner who feels like they’ve lost their gift. I promise you haven’t lost anything you just simply had to pick it back up.

https://healingartshealthandwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/9-minute-Reiki-Session-for-Mind-Heart-and-Gutmp3.mp3
9 minute meditation for Mind-Heart-Gut

Meditation to Channel Negative Emotions

Every one of us is going through some kind of change right now due to the Pandemic and the ongoing economic changes. 

Emotions like stress, anxiety, worry, anger, etc, are thought of as negative emotions because none of us wants to feel these.  These same emotions also have bad effects on our bodies.  One example I use with my patients is the biochemical response to chronic anxiety we all have.  Prolonged anxiety leads to higher production of stress hormones, such as cortisol that   Eventually suppresses the immune system, leading to increased risk of infections or cancer.

 I’d like to share a brief meditation I’ve created to help alleviate the feeling of stress and uncertainty.  The idea of this meditation is to capture the intensity of the emotions you feel, change it to something beneficial and send it towards the thing, person or situation that worries you.  

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit quietly.  I have been doing this before I lay down to sleep to dispel worry thoughts as I’m trying to sleep. 
  2. You can play music or any soothing sound if you ‘d like, and maybe set a timer (the less disruptive the better, like a gentle bell, or set your phone to vibrate).
  3. Place your hands palms up in your lab, sit straight and comfortably.
  4. Imagine what creates the most negative emotions.  Give this thing, idea, object or whatever a color and a shape, and in your mind’s eye place it in your hands.
  5. For a few minutes, let these negative thoughts flow into your open hands, and don’t be afraid of what comes up.
  6. Now in your mind’s eye, reach out your Higher Power (God, Allah, Angels, Ancestors, or your higher self) and ask that this negative energy be changed, or transmuted.  
  7. The negative energy in your hands you can now start to imagine becoming a lighter color, it may feel better, and you may notice pleasant sensations such as warmth.
  8. Now imagine sending this ball of Love, Energy, Healing, Hope or whatever it is you have changed it to directly to what needs it; Send it to a person, situation, place, the future. Trust it will get there.

Here is a guided version of the meditation as well.

https://healingartshealthandwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Meditation-for-channeling-negative-energymp3.mp3

The idea of this meditation is to take the intensity of negative emotions, repurpose those and create healing energy.  There is no reason not to, no harm done, and your body and mind will operate better with positive vibes.