9.3.15

Minimalist Monday: The Benefits of Meditation

Most of us know that meditation is good for the body and mind. But we also all know that it's very easy to give up. Since beginning meditating several years ago (at Buddhist classes, yoga sessions and at home) I have noticed so many improvements in my life but I still have regular lapses. I believe that the benefits of even a little meditation can be long lasting and can lead to increased calmness and improved mindfulness. So, after a break and  when I regain interest, it's always the benefits that get me practising again. Really, for something so simple, free and adaptable the multiple benefits of meditation are outstanding. A recent article The Mind of the Meditator by Matthew Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson explained the neuroscience behind meditating. 
Studies on the neurobiology of meditation show that the practise has many of the characteristics of an ideal drug. It counters depression and pain and encourages a sense of well-being. And it does all of this with few, if any, side effects, at the cost of a couple of minutes of daily respite from a harried existence. Why don't physicians prescribe it more?

Benefits of Meditation:

  • Depression eases
  • Chronic pain is easier to manage
  • Tension related pain reduces (headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems)
  • A sense of well-being is induced
  • A more stable and clear mind results
  • A more serene and flexible way of being is produced
  • It can lead to an enhanced capacity to focus on tasks which require concentration
  • It helps us to deal better with stressful tasks or experiences 
  • It decreases anxiety
  • It improves our relationships with others
  • Self-knowledge and intuition improves
  • We manage negative thoughts better and spend less time dwelling on them
  • We develop the capacity to help others
  • It might slow processes of cellular ageing 
  • It can lower blood pressure
  • It can help with irritable bowel syndrome
  • It can prove immunity
  • It promotes relaxation
  • We become more aware of the present moment and savour simple pleasures 
  • Our problem solving abilities improve
  • It increases serotonin production thus improving our mood 
  • It increases creativity
  • It helps self-control
  • It improves memory
  • It's an opportunity to take time out for yourself 
  • It helps you tune into your internal chatter and improves your ability to 'turn it off'


The appeal of meditation is that it can be done anywhere and its benefits can be gained even if practised at a basic level. So, learn the basics and experiment. Find out what works for you whether it be counting your breathing, repeating a mantra, listening to an instructional recording or music, or simply sitting in silence. 

For me, closing my eyes, being aware of my breathing, staying still, noticing silence (or sometimes - what interrupts it) and visualising a beautiful scene is a wonderful way to reconnect my body and mind and restore peace in my heart. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, this 10 minutes time out of my day is rewiring my brain and creating a cascade of beautiful benefits for my mind and body. The poetry of science. 

Andy Puddicombe's Headspace has a free 10 day meditation course which is a really useful resource especially for beginners and those who've strayed like me.




5 comments :

  1. The reason why it isn't prescribed by physicians more is because they don't get any kickbacks from the pharmaceutical manufacturers.

    I need to get back into the habit of meditation again, it is much too easy to forget to do. Whenever I do meditate, I have a much better time falling asleep since I typically do it right before bedtime.

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  2. Hi Clare, thanks for this lovely reminder of the benefits of meditation.
    I first found it about 5 years ago when there were several very difficult things going on in my life. I did a 'course' on my own at home, as I couldn't cope with going out to one. I found it so very helpful, and still do. 20 minutes 'time out' and peacefulness every day, wherever I am and whatever else is going on.
    My GP was very positive and supportive of the idea, and is someone who prefers to encourage patients to follow this kind of approach than to prescribe pills. Maybe that's one of the great differences between our NHS and others elsewhere.

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  3. Hello Claire!

    I have not been a very agressive commenter on your blog but I have appreciated it a lot since I found it about two years ago. I also blog myself but I find it hard yet to speak about my minimalism journey to my readers. I have been nominated for A Lovely Blog Award and having to choose from my favourite bloggers to tag I thought about you. Don't feel obligated to participate, I understand it might not be interesting to your readers, it's just to let you know I find your blog lovely.

    Here's my contribution and infos about the award: http://ravacholle.blogspot.be/2015/03/oh-my-ive-been-tagged-nominated-even.html

    I'm looking forward to read more of your inspiring posts,
    Clémentine

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  4. Hi Claire
    This is a very appropriate post for me as I recently started using the Headspace app. I went into it with an open mind and no expectations. I enjoyed the free 10 day course so much that I signed up and am now working my way through the third level foundation course. I've noticed I'm sleeping better and just seem a bit calmer. I can't really put my finger on it yet but I just feel like a nicer person and am beginning to enjoy taking time out just for me. I'm definitely going to try and meditate regularly and your post made me realise how useful a tool it is to have. Thank you x

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  5. glad to hear you are doing this Claire. These small healthy minutes we carve out for ourselves make all the difference. Between okay and not okay really! X

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Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. Keep in touch xo