Establishing The Link Between Meditation and Mental Health
In our rapidly changing lives, physical and mental stress are becoming increasingly common. Meditation has been found to help with certain conditions such as hypertension, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and sleep, but how about its effects on mental health?
Research has found meditation to produce positive effects on mental health. Many clinical studies suggest that meditation goes hand-in-hand with physical and mental health. They have also demonstrated that meditation is one of the safest practices in complementary medicine. The activities of meditation are described as calm, quiet, and still are able help to improve mental health.
What Is Meditation?
A writer once said, “to meditate is to live simply and honestly in the world as it is”. According to an article on Meditation and Psychiatry, meditation is a psychological state of active passivity and creative quiescence. Meditation induces a state of calmness, peacefulness, and bliss that solves internal and external turmoils a person may be experiencing.
Meditation is a mind and body exercise that provides physical relaxation, psychological balance, and an enhanced over-all being. The 2017 National Health Interview Survey showed that the number of adults participating in meditation has tripled, from 4.1 to 14.2 percent.
Meditation can vary from person to person, but they share these same concepts: a quiet place with minimal distractions, a relaxed posture, unbothered attention, and a willingness to go into meditation.
Scientific Basis of the Link Between Meditation and Mental Health
Many studies have established a link between meditation and mental health. Research suggests that meditation can potentially improve health problems and promote healthy behaviors. Meditation and mental health are linked by interactions between the brain, mind, body, and behavior.
Here are some studies that were done regarding meditation and mental health:
One study in 2012 compared brain images between adults who meditated and didn’t. This study showed that those who meditated had more folds in the outer layers of the brain – a sign that the brain has an increased ability to process information
Another study suggested that medication affects the amygdala, the part of our brain associated with the body’s fight or flight response or fear and stress responses. This showed that meditation can help calm people down as well as improve another function of the amygdala, memory.
Meditation improves mental health by having a positive impact on these aspects:
Sleep disturbances are common in adults, and roughly half of Americans have difficulties with initiating or maintaining sleep, leading to poor mental health. Meditation has been shown to regulate sleep-wake cycles as well as promote wakefulness in daily activities.
Practicing meditation can help you control unwanted thoughts you have before sleeping, thus helping alleviate insomnia. Meditation also relaxes your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state while you sleep.
2. Depression and anxiety
Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact between meditation and mental health. One paper found that meditation significantly reduced anxiety and depression in the participants of their study. Depression and anxiety are one of the most common and prevalent mental health problems, and meditation is a quick and easy way to alleviate their symptoms.
Meditation is a practice of concentration. When one practices meditation, the ability to concentrate improves, and people become more productive at tasks even under stress. Meditation helps increase the strength of concentration, contributing to overall better mental health.
Meditation and mental health both also play a role in cognitive processes. Meditation can enhance receptivity and discrimination and improve problem-solving ability. Meditation also increases efficiency with work.
5. Routine formation
Practicing meditation routinely leads to better mental health by increasing discipline, plotting one’s schedule, and committing to health and self-care. When one practices meditation, they are forming a habit, a routine, that they can apply to other aspects of life as well.
6. Stress reduction
One reason why people try meditation is for stress reduction. Normally, mental and physical stress can cause high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our body. This can lead to harmful effects in our body, such as disturbed sleep, increased blood pressure, and fatigue. Research has also shown that meditation may improve the symptoms of stress-related conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.
7. Chronic Pain
A study published in 2017 found that meditation is not an analgesic by itself, but was found to be an effective means of mitigating the main problem, which is pain. Meditation allows a person to divert his problems into more purposeful ones.
While meditation can be an effective healing practice, psychotherapy is one of the mainstays of treatment. If you need to seek help from a professional, check the nearest Mindshift Psychological Services near me in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Corona. See also branches located in Southern California – Century City, Costa Mesa, and Brentwood. Contact us now and learn more about the services we offer. There are many effective treatments for anxiety such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Whatever it may be, a professional will guide you through all of the twists and turns to make sure we heal together.