Just as regular exercise strengthens your bones, muscles, and tendons, a little personal quiet time each day (whether it is spent in prayer, meditation, or mindfulness) can strengthen the sharpness and endurance of your mind (brain) and elevate your mood.
Try to set aside 15-30 minutes each day to allow your mind to restore its strength. For most people, this requires a quiet place to calm down, focus, and absorb the feelings, thoughts, and questions of your mind.
What relaxation technique you use will ultimately depend on a combination of your cultural background, life experiences, and personal beliefs. You may feel most comfortable with relatively belief-neutral mindfulness exercises or Transcendental Meditation®. Alternatively, you may feel drawn to certain more religious- or faith-based forms of meditative prayer (like the rosary or some types of Zen mediation). Finding the time and the best method that allows your mind to rest, refuel, and refresh during waking hours can be a lifelong quest but one that may may turn out to be extremely rewarding.
One benefit of meditation that has been described by many of those who practice it regularly is the freeing of the mind to reduce information overload and stress.
Other benefits can include
- Increased focus on the positive things in your life and less on the negatives
- Increased tolerance , patience, and empathy
- Rediscovery of hidden creativity and imagination
- Increased ability to handle stressful situations and difficult people
- Greater self-awareness and acceptance of oneself and one’s own limitations, including illness, aging, and disability
- Increased focus on the present
There is some limited scientific evidence that meditation may help improve the following health conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Meditation is not for everyone. Meditation may be harmful for some people who have certain mental health or physical conditions. Please talk to your primary care provider if you are concerned about whether meditation is right for you or not. While often very helpful, meditation can and should not replace regular medical care.