Let’s talk about meditation… ⠀⠀
I used to be so terrible at it, my mind would shift and change all over the place, thinking about all the things I needed to get done & what I was going to have for lunch, and randomly my 5th birthday party with a piñata, can anyone relate? Never mind about the psychological benefits of meditation.
Well, guess what! I have learnt that you actually can’t be bad at meditation!
Because it is not actually keeping your mind from wandering that is the point. It is noticing your mind has wandered (because that’s just what minds do) and bringing it back to the anchor is actually the most beneficial part. No matter how many times you have to bring it back, you are still getting the benefits. I think of the days when my mind was the busiest, and I had to bring it back so many times, as those were the days when
A) I needed it the most, and
B) I got the most out of it!
Some of the benefits you can experience from adding meditation into your routine👇🏻⠀⠀
- Reduce stress
- Reduce anxiety
- Promotes positive emotional health
- Decrease depression
- Enhance your self-awareness⠀
- Increase emotional intelligence
- Lengthen attention and concentration
- Can reduce age-related memory loss⠀⠀
- Can generate a sense of calmness
- Can aid problem solving abilities
- Can help fight addictions by creating awareness and space to change habitual responses
- Improves sleep quality and capacity
- Can help manage pain
- Likely to decrease blood pressure
- Can decrease the occurrence of headaches
Meditation – Evidence-based therapy?
I used to think meditation and mindfulness were too ‘woo woo’ for me – that I needed to be a Buddhist or monk to be able to do it. But I was wrong. Some of the results around the impacts of mindfulness / meditation on the brain coming from neuroscience and social psychology is actually mind blowing! Our brain is so adaptable. Meditation consistently practiced has been shown to grow parts of our brain and increase activation. Believed to result in increased feelings of connectedness and emotional regulation just to name a few… I instantly made my morning meditations a non-negotiable whereas before I’d kind of been doing it because I was told to, getting frustrated and giving up on it!
Meditation on its own is unlikely to solve mental health difficulties but it is often a powerful adjunct to psychological therapy.
What’s the difference between Mindfulness & Meditation?
Personally, I follow a guided meditation every morning and then practice mindfulness throughout my day. I’ve been asked a lot lately what’s the difference? The terms are often used interchangeably, and sometimes, in their simplified forms, refer to the same general thing — the idea of intentionally calming the mind or being present. ⠀
I think of meditation as the practice of sitting and focusing on the breath, an intention or a mantra, usually for a set amount of time. It is an intentional practice, that aids me in a preventative way.
Mindfulness I see as something you do on-the-go throughout your day. That being you are intentionally present in the moment and recognise non judgmentally when you may have slipped into worrying about the future or dredging around in the past, bringing yourself back to the present moment gently and being fully there in whatever it is you are doing. Focusing on your senses can be a powerful way to practice this, which allows you to redirect back to the here-and-now. This is something that aids me both preventatively but also intervenes when I recognise I am feeling stressed or anxious.
So how do I get started with Meditation?
I usually recommend starting with a small, manageable step to get started. A short guided meditation (perhaps 5 mins max) to create a habit around taking the time to practice meditation. Insight Timer (app) – has lots of free meditations that you can check out. Or YouTube. Find an instructor whose voice you like.
I usually also recommend starting with a small mindfulness exercise, or checking in with each of your senses whilst doing a mundane task like brushing your teeth. Notice what you see, what you feel with your sense of touch, what you can hear, taste, smell. Making a habit of this, is another way of working on this skill so when you do need it, you have a greater capacity to be present and mindful.
Author: Samantha Sheppard, B Psych (Hons).
Samantha is a registered psychologist with experience working with children and adolescents (and their families), young adults and adults. Samantha empowers others with their mental health using a non-judgemental, compassionate approach, and particularly resonates with the social and emotional wellbeing framework.
To make an appointment with Samantha Sheppard try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.
Fox, K. C., et. al. (2014). Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitioners. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 43, 48-73.
Hussain, D., & Bhushan, B. (2010). Psychology of meditation and health: Present status and future directions. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 10, 439-451.
Schreiner, I., & Malcolm, J. P. (2008). The benefits of mindfulness meditation: Changes in emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Behaviour Change, 25, 156-168.