If you think of a Buddhist monk when you think meditation, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that this spiritual practice has officially crossed over into the mainstream.
Although meditation still has strong ties with spirituality, there are many more reasons to meditate than to achieve enlightenment. In fact, you don’t even have to be a spiritual or religious person to glean all the benefits of meditation.
Possibly one of the most exciting benefits of meditation is its ability to help manage stress. Many studies have shown that meditation can decrease symptoms of anxiety by reprogramming neural pathways in the brain. As a result, you’ll find emotional regulation much easier and more natural.
So, whether you suffer from general anxiety, social anxiety or both, meditation can help. It may seem counterintuitive, but spending more quiet time in meditation can help improve your social life. If you’re anxious about meeting new people, meditation can help end a dry spell.
Too often, we get lost in our thoughts. Meditation teaches us to slow down and become aware of our own bodies, thoughts and surroundings. In an increasingly fast-paced world, we’re losing touch with our own senses of self, but meditation can help bring it back.
By learning to focus on ourselves in the present moment, we naturally strengthen the mind-body connection and become more aware of our emotions.
At least one study sheds some light on the connection between meditation and creativity. A study published in the journal Mindfulness found that certain meditation techniques promote creative thinking, and the effects are almost instant. This is good news for those who are new to meditation because it means you don’t have to be some sort of yogi master to see benefits. The study found that meditation has a long-lasting influence on human cognition, including how we conceive new ideas.
If you’re creatively blocked or looking for new ways to approach old problems, you may want to try your hand at meditation. Just a few minutes each day should be enough to get the creative wheels turning.
So many people avoid meditation because they claim that they don’t have the patience. But it ends up being a chicken-egg problem because meditation can help improve patience. Bottom line, it’ll get easier and easier as you practice meditation. And you’ll find yourself to be more patient in other areas of your life too.
Meditation teaches us to spend more time in the present moment and less time in our worries about the past or future. And even if you don’t have a spiritual practice, mindfulness can help you feel more connected to the world and to the people around you.
One of the best side effects of mindfulness is more connected and productive relationships. When you can stop to evaluate your own emotional reactions, you’ll naturally have more productive conversations.
If you’re on the fence about meditation, go ahead and give it a shot. Most studies show that you can experience benefits after only a few sessions, so you really have nothing to lose. And remember that this isn’t about perfection. It’s about making progress towards a better, more grounded you.