Meditation…you’ve probably heard about it.
It’s a practice that’s recently gained rapid popularity through public meditation centers and in-office meditation rooms. It’s been well-adopted by rising professionals and is currently a top mainstream trend. In fact, the National Center of Health Statistics, the National Health Institute, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that meditation is the fastest growing complementary health practice; in 5 years, it rose in popularity by over 10 %.
But, as history reminds us, just because something is a popular trend doesn’t necessarily mean it’s useful (remember heely shoes, anyone?) So, is meditation just a trend or something more? Here’s a closer look…
Meditation in Holistic Care
Behavioral health professionals have long recognized the impact of meditation and mindfulness on their clients; however, recent studies have begun to identify the biological mechanisms of how these practices translate into decreased symptoms. Brain imaging from a 2013 study showed increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the anterior insula.
These areas of the brain control worrying and executive function and are less active in patients with anxiety than the general public; therefore, this study showed a direct and concrete link between meditation and decreased symptoms of anxiety. Given the often prohibitively high costs and long waits associated with professional behavioral health intervention, meditation may be a feasible symptom management option for the almost 7 million Americans living with chronic, daily anxiety.
Meditation: The Benefits
Science tells us mediation and mindfulness are more than just trending practices…they are extremely beneficial to one’s mental and physical health. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine presents an opportunity to tap into your own inner resources. Meditation can help you find your inner peace and rise as the best version of YOU as you gain a greater sense of well being and resilience.
Meditation can also evoke compassion, wisdom and renewed happiness so you can live life to the fullest. Mindfulness can help you change your life by learning how to live in the present moment and appreciate it for all it’s worth!
Complementary Care That’s Essential
In addition to the benefits of meditation on anxiety, depression, and other behavioral health concerns, there has been an increase in scientific literature demonstrating the helpfulness of such practices in managing a physical illness. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation may
help to lower blood pressure, decrease IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptom severity, and reduce ulcerative colitis flare-ups. Meditation has also been found to increase activity in brain 3 4 regions that regulate pain responses; studies show that patients self-reported lower rates of both chronic and acute pain after meditating.
When discussing meditation, it is also imperative to recognize that there are various forms of this practice; the studies discussed above and their subsequent benefits refer mostly to mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness refers to the concept of directing attention to one’s own physical and emotional experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; when attention wanders, the individual makes a concerted effort to redirect their attention to simply noticing their experience
Nonjudgmental acceptance and awareness are the cornerstone ideas of mindfulness meditation; in fact, mindfulness is a concept that is built into various modern psychotherapeutic models of treatment including mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) as well as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
Although mindfulness meditation is the most commonly studied and discussed 6 meditative practice, individuals may find more benefit in other iterations of meditation; in fact, many individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and depression find the most relief from a meditative practice that combines various forms. The table below provides a brief overview of seven types of meditation, their core principles, and where they have been shown to have the greatest positive impact.
With all of the positive benefits associated with meditation, there’s no better time to begin experimenting and build a practice that fits your needs. We’d love to hear from you: what form, or combination, works best for you?