Why Should You Meditate?
With evidence-based arguments
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When I ask people why they should meditate, the common answer is to reduce stress. However, does this mean that only people with stress should meditate to recover from it? The one thing I have noticed is that people think of meditation as a luxury, but it’s actually necessary for survival. People often imagine meditation as something only yogis do in the mountains, but it’s completely different in reality.
In this era full of overwhelming information, it’s surprising that there is a lack of awareness among many people regarding meditation. In this article, I would like to shed some light on the most important tool for our survival in this hectic world.
Manage Your Energy
After a hectic day at work, you may feel exhausted when you come home and have no energy to do anything else. But why do we always feel drained?
Elliot Berkman, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, explains that most of the time, our fatigue is caused by psychological exhaustion rather than physical exhaustion.
If you’re a construction worker, a farmer toiling in a field, or a medical resident working both day and night shifts, there is a chance of physical exhaustion. But for others, it’s more about psychological factors such as high-intensity emotions, self-control, and negative thoughts.
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and her colleagues conducted a study to examine whether people’s beliefs about their willpower being a limited resource affected their performance. The researchers asked the participants to select whether they agreed with statements like “After a strenuous mental activity your energy is depleted, and you must rest to refuel again” (limited-resource theory) and “Your mental stamina fuels itself; even after strenuous mental exertion, you can continue doing more of it” (non-limited-resource theory).
Dweck found that the participants’ beliefs influenced their willpower; if they believed their willpower would diminish, it did.
In another study, participants received false feedback about their fatigue levels, and those who were told they were more tired performed worse on a subsequent memory task, regardless of whether they had completed the tiring task or not. This study shows that beliefs about a task’s fatiguing nature can impact performance.
In summary, your energy levels are directly influenced by your mind. If you believe your work is more tiring, you’ll probably feel tired at the end of the day. So, can we change our mindset and increase our energy levels?
Many research studies have found that calmness helps conserve mental energy, and meditation is the best way to nurture calmness.
In a 2012 study, researchers discovered that participants who practiced mindfulness meditation were better at resisting temptation in subsequent tasks than those who did not engage in the practice.
To Lead a Happy Life
You work hard by clocking more hours on your job or study hard to get a good grade. For what? To live happily? People misinterpret happiness as the final destination in their journey and fail to enjoy the small things in life.
Overthinking, negative thinking, being unaware of the present moment, worrying about the future, and having a short attention span are becoming increasingly common.
People often use social media to distract themselves, but unfortunately, diverting our minds can have negative consequences, so it’s important to face life’s challenges mindfully.
To be happy on a daily basis, you need to free yourself from stress and anxiety and learn to appreciate the little things in life. Many studies support the argument that meditation increases positive emotions and overall well-being.
In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it was found that practicing loving-kindness meditation can be a beneficial tool for improving one’s overall well-being and building important personal resources.
Humans now have an attention span shorter than a goldfish
In 2015, Microsoft conducted a study which discovered that the average human attention span had decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to a mere 8 seconds. This means that the human attention span in 2015 was shorter than that of a goldfish.
Having a short attention span is a big concern regardless of your line of work. Do you have difficulty focusing on important tasks for more than a few minutes at a time? Have you ever forgotten what you were working on or talking about just a few minutes ago? Have you ever watched a movie while scrolling through Instagram?
The real concern is that we tend to switch to new tasks even if the current one is not boring. People often seek an extra dopamine shot, so they turn to Instagram or other social apps.
Fortunately, you can overcome short attention span with practicing meditation, and simply focusing on your breath can improve cognitive function. Many research studies support this argument.
Sleep deprivation numbers are increasing, as people struggle to fall asleep after a hectic day at work. Whenever we try to sleep, our worries or problems keep playing in a loop in our minds.
Healthy sleep is significant for cognitive function, mental health, and metabolic health. The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults, but according to studies, more than one-third of U.S. adults sleep less than seven hours per night on average. About 35% to 50% of adults worldwide regularly experience symptoms of insomnia.
Now let’s explore how meditation can help resolve sleep problems. One common problem associated with sleep is carrying forward the day’s stress into the night.
People often think about the events of the day while lying in bed, replaying disturbing events over and over, which can make it difficult to fall asleep. To overcome this, the mind needs to be in a relaxed state.
In a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers examined how mindfulness meditation affected adults with moderate sleep issues.
The study involved 49 participants who were randomly assigned to either six weeks of meditation or sleep hygiene education. The meditation group experienced less daytime fatigue and fewer insomnia symptoms at the end of the study.
How To Meditate for Beginners?
It’s always good to learn about the benefits of meditation, but when you try to execute it, you may come up with all sorts of excuses.
Try to meditate for at least 15 minutes a day. If you don’t know anything about meditation, just close your eyes and focus on your breathing. After a minute, there’s a high chance that your mind will be occupied with different thoughts. Don’t try to ignore them; instead, tell yourself that you will allot time for those thoughts later, and then refocus on your breath.
I’m also sharing a few resources to help you start your meditation journey. From my experience, I suggest that you don’t complicate things too much, as you might have come across different types of meditations. The simple exercise above provides equal benefits as advanced meditations.
Try to make meditation a part of your routine. As you now know, it’s not a luxury, but a necessary tool for a better life.
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