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June 27, 2022 Kristen Peairs

The Benefits of Meditation

Most people have heard about meditation, but really, what is it?

Meditation is a practice that supports the mind and body by training attention and awareness. It is a choice and a mindset. It can occur at any time and be as short as a blink or as long as a lifetime.

In a work environment, where minds are engaged with never-ending lists of things to complete and people to please, meditation provides a rest, a respite, and a break. It offers connection into a type of presence that interrupts the familiar hamster wheel of stress. With that interruption, there is the possibility for renewed focus, inspired ideas, relaxed muscles, and peaceful thinking.

My Journey with Meditation

My own journey with meditation began when I ended up in a health rut. Doctors were prescribing medications that made my symptoms worse and various tests provided nothing useful. Even working with alternative healers did not yield relief.

I was tired, stressed, unhappy, and stuck. Something had to change and so I made a new choice. Instead of continuing to work hard in search of the solution to my problem, I chose to sit back and allow space for inspiration to arrive. Meditation is the practice I used to be available for the inspiration I was seeking.

At that time, I was aware that meditation could be beneficial for physical healing and mental clarity. I wanted healing and clarity and so I stayed committed to my practice. Every day, I chose to follow one guided meditation. Afterward, I would write down notes about my experience.

After only a few days, I noticed that my stress and symptoms were a bit less. Within two weeks, I noticed that I was feeling happier. After two months, a new insight about my symptoms arrived and it felt so right, that I jumped into doing what it suggested.

I kept meditating, the insights continued arriving, and gradually, I became healthier and healthier until I was completely out of my rut.

Meditation was a key part of my recovery and now, it’s a key part of my career success.

What Does the Research Say?

A few benefits of meditation include increased focus, calm, health, clarity, relaxation, and energy. Other benefits are decreased stress, anxiety, depression, blood pressure, and pain.

Even though well over 4,000 studies on meditation have been performed, new benefits of meditation are regularly being identified and explored.

One branch of inquiry involves how meditation affects the brain’s aging process. Studies on the brains of regular meditators have shown that their brains, on average, are 7.5 years younger after age 50 than the brains of non-meditators. Other studies have found that meditators have more cortical thickness in their brains than non-meditators of the same age. Having thicker cortical tissue is very good because cortical tissue tends to thin as we age, and thinner cortical tissue has been associated with neurological decline.

To obtain lasting benefits from meditation, research shows that it is

Common meditation types

There are many different types of meditation, and it can be hard to know where to start. Try out one of these five meditations to help you get started.

1. Breathing MeditationThe Benefits of Meditation - two woman sitting on floor meditating

Breathing meditations invite the meditator to keep their attention focused on their breath. Since your breath is always with you, this is an easy meditation to do anywhere, any time.

This article includes some breathing exercises and breathing meditations to try out.

2. Body Scan Meditation

Body scan meditations lead the meditator’s awareness through the physical body. These meditations can be made more tangible by placing one or both hands on the body area that correlates with the region to which the mental attention is being directed.

3. Movement Meditation

Movement meditations include mindful movement, often coordinated with attention and breath. A few common movement meditation practices include yoga and tai chi, though nearly any movement can be transformed into a meditation with the right mindset. A simple walk around the block, when done with the intent to feel your body and tune into your breath qualifies as a movement meditation.

4. Sound Meditation

Sound meditations involve listening to sounds or tones that help the brain and body harmonize. Binaural beat is a term that is frequently mentioned within the context of sound meditation. A binaural beat occurs when the brain creates a sound of a unique frequency from the stimulus of one tone being played in one ear and a different tone being played in the other ear. Changing the hertz (frequency) of the binaural beat can shift the brain from restlessness to relaxation, relaxation to focus, or focus to hyperfocus.

5. Mantra Meditation

Mantra meditations involve repeatedly saying specific words or phrases. The vibrations of the word or phrase being vocalized create effects in both the mind and the body.

Tips for getting started with meditation

  • Be clear on your why for trying meditation. The stronger and more personal your why, the easier it will be to keep showing up for your practice even when it feels inconvenient.
  • Be curious about what you’ll discover.
  • Choose a specific space for your practice to occur.
  • Make your meditation space yours with a pop of color, a comfy chair, or a small trinket.
  • Have a pad of paper and a pen handy to record your thoughts or insights. (If using an electronic device, make sure to put it on do not disturb during your meditation time.).

To learn more about how to stay committed to doing an important self-care task even when you’re busy, read

Five Meditations for People who have Five Minutes or Less

  1. Take sixty quiet seconds to feel the warmth of your coffee in its mug before you take a sip.
  2. Close your eyes, feel your feet, and take three deep inhales and exhales.
  3. Slowly brush your hair in time with your breathing.
  4. Silently express gratitude for each area of your body as you apply lotion to it.
  5. Gaze at a plant (or another inanimate object) and inhale for four counts, then exhale for four counts. Repeat for at least four cycles.

For more on meditation, check out these articles:

 

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Disclaimer

By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take the place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Kristen Peairs

Kristen Peairs is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Massage Therapist, and Professional Educator.

Throughout her 20-year career, she has worked with many people suffering from a diversity of chronic health conditions. Understanding how food affects the brain and the whole body has been a key factor in the success of her healing strategies.

At Nivati, she has researched, written, and filmed over 100 health and wellness videos for their content library.

Kristen is currently writing a cookbook for people living with food allergies and intolerances.

She is a graduate of Bastyr University and holds a Master's of Science in Nutrition.

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