Benefits of Meditation for Mental Health

Have you ever tried to meditate only to realize you can’t stop those racing thoughts?  Did you know meditating for just seven minutes can benefit you throughout your entire day?  Did you know meditation can help you to manage certain mental health conditions?

But with so many different styles of meditation, which one is right for you?

In this post I would like to talk about some of the different styles of meditation, how meditation can fit into your schedule, and the benefits of meditation for mental health.  It doesn’t need to be difficult, we can meditate with ease and it can be good for your mind, body, and soul.

                                                    How to meditate

Aren’t we suppose to just sit on the floor in the middle of a room with our legs crossed and our thumb and index finger touching?

Well, that is certainly one way to do it.  There is a name given to the hand positions during meditation.   These hand positions are called Mudras.  There are many different Mudras.  I will introduce you to the two I am most familiar with.  There are almost 400 different Mudra.

The Gyan Mudra–Considered one of the most important mudras. It has been practiced in meditation for thousands of years, and continues to bring peace, calm and spiritual progress.

Known as the “mudra of knowledge”, it evokes the most expansive version of the self, so you can flow through your life lessons with ease and calm. It stimulates wisdom and knowledge.

The Gyan Mudra is good to do when speaking to someone so you come from your highest self.

Benefits of Gyan Mudra–Stimulates the root chakra, easing tension and depression. It relates to expansion and knowledge. It is extremely calming and brings the practitioner spiritual openness and ease in meditation. It is also known within traditional ayurveda to boost the air element, thus stimulating the brain, empowering the mind, nervous system and pituitary gland. It can help enhance concentration and prevent insomnia.

The Prayer (Anjali) Mudra–A simple yet powerful hand position and can be used in your practice and in daily life. Anjali itself means “offering.” The beauty of this gesture, which positions us right at the core of our being, is timeless and universal.

The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification. It is used as a posture of composure, of returning to one’s heart, whether you are greeting someone or saying goodbye, initiating or completing an action. It is also often used in yoga practice, such as during Sun Salutations and Tadasana.

Benefits of the Prayer Mudra–Bringing together the palms in this mudra connects the practitioner with spirituality/god/divinity. It promotes respect for oneself and others.

It is considered a natural remedy for stress and anxiety and is useful for entering into a meditative state.

Contemplate your own metaphors when practicing this mudra, such as the balancing of masculine and feminine energies, logic and intuition, and strength and tenderness.

                   
                                               Types of meditation

Mindfulness meditation-Mindfulness is the psychological process of purposely bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment, which one develops through the practice of meditation and through other training.  Wikipedia

Mindfulness meditation is the one I am most familiar with.  When I meditate I try to do it at a quiet time of the day.  I often have some soft meditation music on in the background.  And I try to just be in the now.  I often have to re-focus as I tend to have racing thoughts.  It’s hard for me to quiet my mind for very long.  I have now incorporated mindfulness meditation into my morning routine.  I am trying to meditate for at least 7 minutes in the morning.  That may not sound like very long, but it really is better than nothing.  I’ll work my way up from there.

Guided meditation–A process by which one or more participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner or teacher, either in person or via a written text, sound recording, video, or audiovisual media comprising music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both.  Wikipedia

I have done many guided meditations.  I have had CD’s and I have listened to guided meditations on Youtube.  I have had some good success with them.  For me, the best ones are when I am guided to relax from head to toe.  I notice when I focus on my muscles and relaxing them, that is when meditation is most helpful for me.

Transcendental Meditation–The Transcendental Meditation technique or TM is a form of silent mantra meditation, developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The meditation practice involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one’s eyes closed.  Wikipedia

A Mantra is just a word or sound repeated in an attempt to concentrate during meditation.  Hommm is a very common mantra word/sound.

I have tried T.M. and I really felt good doing it.  20 minutes twice a day is the challenge for me.  Afterall, I’m starting with 7 minutes here.  I’ll be working up to this one.

Zen Meditation–An ancient Buddhist tradition.  The Japanese term “Zen” is a derivative of the Chinese word Ch’an, itself, a translation of the Indian term dhyana, which means concentration or meditation.
One of the benefits of Zen meditation is that it provides insight into how the mind works. As with other forms of Buddhist meditation, Zen practice can benefit people in many ways, including providing tools to help cope with depression and anxiety issues. The deepest purpose is spiritual, as the practice of Zen meditation uncovers the innate clarity and workability of the mind. In Zen, experiencing this original nature of mind is experiencing awakening.

With Zen meditation you can learn to keep your mind from wandering (my racing thoughts) and tap into the unconscious mind.  I really love Zen meditation for this reason.  

                                              Benefits of meditation

I think the most common reason for meditation is stress reduction.  I know for me, when I am stressed is when I like to de-stress with meditation.  

Meditation can also:

-Help control anxiety 

-Help promote emotional health and well being.

A large-scale study found that regular meditation decreases the likelihood of developing depression and mood-related disorders (Jain, Walsh, Cahn, 2015). Besides some forms of meditative practices which also promoted positive thinking, as researchers stated, and could improve the overall emotional health of an individual.

-Enhance self awareness.  Through meditation and mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and physical presence. … It can also help you become more aware of other people’s emotions.

-Increase your attention span

-Reduce age related memory loss

                                           

                                            Finding time for meditation

And there in lies the issue.  When do I have time to meditate?  The truth is, for me anyway, I just need to make the time.  The time is there. If you read my post titled Ways to start being healthy, then you already know excuses are my thing. I find meditating in the morning is more beneficial for me.  My mind is fresh and I have less of a tendency to get tired instead of ending up feeling rejuvenated.  For the next few days I’ll stick with getting up a few minutes early for meditation.

Meditation can technically be done anywhere.  In your car over a lunch break, just at your desk, or sitting in the park.  I guess that leaves me with little options for excuses.

In the past I have used ear buds when I lay down for bed in the evening.  I have listened to a guided meditation or just some soft meditation music.  I’ll even fall asleep to it sometimes.  It’s a really great way to calm the brain right before bed.

                                 In Conclusion

I hope you were able to learn a little more about meditation, some of the different types of meditation along with benefits of meditation for mental health.  

In my quest for good health with ease I need to remember to find the time for the things that can improve my overall health and well-being.  It can be easy, fun, and enlightening.  So far I’m really having fun with it.

I would really love to hear about your experience with meditation.  What is your favorite style of meditation?  Are you able to meditate for longer than 7 minutes?  I would love for you to leave your comments below.  
                                                      I am grateful you are here.

Sources:

Madhuleena roy Chowdhury, BA, “5 Health Benefits of Daily Meditation According to Science”, https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-meditation/

Jesse Shiller, “30 Weeks of Mudras – The Gyan Mudra”, https://www.kooshoo.com/blogs/news/15671424-30-weeks-of-mudras-the-gyan-mudra (June 24, 2020)

8 thoughts on “Benefits of Meditation for Mental Health”

  1. This was very interesting. It’s funny, but I just read another post about mindfullness, so your article complements it nicely. I would like to do the mindfullness meditation.
    I used to meditate more regularly, but I stopped doing it. I should start it again. You are right when you say that we can make the time. 7 minutes of your day can be fit in any time.
    I found the info about the mudras very interesting. I did not know about that, so I am glad I learned that. When you put your hands together like that during meditation, you can certainly feel a lot of energy flowing through it, well, I usually do 😉

    Reply
    • Hi Christine, thank you so much for your visit to my site. I agree with there
      being a strong energy when doing the prayer mudra. There is a very interesting
      energy “test” you can do with your hands to be able to feel energy. I’ll have
      to bring that up in an upcoming article. It’s really cool to feel.

      Thank you again and all the best,
      Teresa

      Reply
  2. Mindfulness meditation – I just did that this morning during a Zoom meeting I attended for work. We were working on promoting personal wellness during this COVID-19 pandemic. When I finally was able to focus on my breathing and stop my racing thoughts and ignore outside noises, it truly was relaxing and grounded me.

    I will continue to work on this. I think first thing in the morning would be beneficial – like before I get up from bed instead of checking my phone. It will help me start my day better.

    I totally believe in meditation for your mental health. Our mental health matters. Why did you chose 7 mins? Is that the magic number to meditate for? Just wondering.

    Reply
    • Hi Dana, I really appreciate your visit to my site. I am also grateful you took the
      time to leave a great comment and question. Seven minutes was purely by choice. When
      I meditate I ask Alexa (Amazon Echo) to set the alarm for however many minutes I need. It just
      so happened to be 6:53 a.m. so I told her to let me know when seven minutes is up. I have
      to start slow as I have so many amazing things I am working on they are all I want to be
      doing. No magic number involved.
      All the best to you and good luck with your meditation. It’s so worth it!
      Teresa

      Reply
  3. This is a great guide! I have been interested in learning meditation but didn’t know where to start. Just like everything else in life I just have to make the time to do it. You make a great point that I never considered and you could meditate in your car on your lunch break. I always thought of meditating as a peaceful room with no distractions, but why not a car?

    Thank you for all the ideas and laying out what the different types of meditation are exactly.
    Tyler

    Reply
    • Hello Tyler, thank you so much for checking out my site. I’m really pleased you
      were able to find some benefit from the article.
      I wish you much success in your meditation journey.

      Teresa

      Reply
  4. Hi Teresa,

    Thank you for this article. I agree with what you said completely. Meditation is a powerful tool we can use to let go of stress and anxiety. I have only started to meditate 3 months ago due to Corona Virus, just having more time to work on myself. I can say that I already feel how my anxiety is decreasing.

    Thank you for this article.
    Yoana

    Reply
    • Hello Yoana, thank you so very much for visiting my site. I am really glad to hear
      you have found meditation to be a helpful catalyst for your anxiety. I’m grateful
      you were able to have the time to discover this.

      I wish you all the best,
      Teresa

      Reply

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