Why Meditate

     Meditation has been present for some time now, though it has gained a lot of popularity in western culture over the last two decades and for good reason. Meditation provides a large number of health benefits, and many studies concur on stress relief pros the process offers. The common myth concerning meditation is that it calms the mind leading to a feeling of stillness and peace. Sometimes this does happen, but it does not mean that one has failed in meditation if peace is not the result. Meditation is there to help the individual focus on their inner selves and observe everything ongoing, no matter how chaotic it may be.

     The aspect that changes after taking some time to meditate is the relationship that the individual has with the chaos of their thoughts. One becomes more objective and less convinced that every passing thought holds some inherent truth and starts to recognize intrinsic biases in their thinking even at the most fundamental level. Internal meditation is where one observes their thought patterns. The other form is external meditation where one observes their environment and its workings intently without reacting. There are several benefits to be had with the process.

     For one, one achieves better focus. Because the process of meditation is a practice of focusing attention and being aware how it works and directions taken, it improves focus. This is a lasting effect from regular sessions of meditation. Obvious benefits include significantly longer attention spans and better overall productivity in a work environment and less mental fatigue after extended mental exercises than before.

     Meditation also brings the individual to a point of less anxiety in their life. The more a person meditates, the more they are loosening connections of specific neural pathways, which relieve stress patterns.

     The medial prefrontal cortex processes information concerning experiences and the person’s identity. Usually, the neural pathways connecting body sensations and fear to this part of the brain are quite significant. That is why one feels distressed when they are under attack because the pathways trigger a strong reaction in the medial prefrontal cortex. When one meditates, they weaken this particular neural connection which means they do not react as strongly to sensations, but their assessment is sharpened to threats, and the person can adequately evaluate the situation according to logic rather than emotion.

     Meditation has also been known to alleviate severe sleeping issues. Researchers tried to see if mindfulness would benefit patients that suffered from severe insomnia. After eight weeks, the meditation participants had less wake time during the night and were better relaxed before going to bed. In a follow-up after six months of meditation training, the research found those suffering from insomnia had achieved a better quality of sleep on average. Apparently, meditation has proven to be one of the best stress and anxiety relief practices out there; provided it is done the right way. Misconceptions and myths are deterring a lot of people from experiencing the full benefits or perceiving its importance in their lives.  

Yan Jiang