nMeditation is a practice that spans generations of different religions and cultures. The amount of time you meditate depends on what your personal goals are.
There are benefits of meditation that are backed by science and proven through research. Studies conclude that meditation helps to relieve stress and anxiety. It can also be utilized as a spiritual practice and a way to clear your mind, unblock your chakras, and relax your mind and body
Meditation and yoga are also closely related and powerful when practiced together. If you want to know the three science-backed benefits of meditation, check out this article.
How Did Meditation Get Started?
The word mediation comes from a Latin term that means “to ponder.” The earliest roots of meditation go back to 1500 years BCE, when meditation was referred to as the training of the mind. However, many historians believe that meditation started around 3000 BCE. Other types of meditations were recorded Between 600 to 500 BCE in Taoist China and Buddhist India.
An outline of the eight limbs of yoga was put together between 400 and 100 BCE. It was entitled “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” It is a collection of 196 short verses that aim to help students derive wisdom and inner peace through yoga. It is highly regarded to be the beginning foundation of yoga theory and philosophy.
Around this time, literature concerning the philosophy of meditation and yoga was produced. “Bhagavad Gita” is an epic poem among Hinduism’s most meaningful and greatly loved religious texts. The four paths of yoga were codified:
- Bhakti- The path of love and devotion
- Karma- The path of altruistic service
- Gyana- The path of wisdom and self-discovery
- Raja- The path of techniques, including meditation
Meditation quickly spread to different cultures and influenced other major religions. Throughout the Middle Ages, the practice of meditation grew. Teachings of meditation soon became prevalent among Western cultures. In 1922, Herman Hesse published Siddhartha, the story of Buddha and his spirituality.
Buddhism started to become popular in the 1960s, and Hatha yoga and Transcendental meditation followed suit in America and Europe. Buddha taught his students that meditative concentration helps lead them toward enlightenment, and wisdom will guide them to look at things the way they are. From this point on, meditation became synonymous with Buddha and spirituality.
One extremely influential individual in the practice of meditation was Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, who established the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. His curriculum benefited people of all kinds without bringing religious philosophy into it. It garnered awareness from scientific communities all over the world.
The program is called Mindfulness-Based Stressed Reduction. Since its inception, it has brought meditation to the forefront of the public consciousness for many years. Meditation became increasingly more common and became the institution it is today.
How Often Does Someone Need to Meditate?
The amount of time you devote to meditating should depend on your goals. Beginner students in meditation should aim to meditate for at least ten minutes a day at a minimum. However, each person is different. Depending on your aspirations, you want to keep extending the time you meditate by about five minutes at a time.
The purpose of meditation is to ground yourself and focus on your third eye chakra, which represents a state of enlightenment. The third eye is correlated with religious visions and is linked to perception. The chakra is in the middle of your forehead and parallel to the center of your eyebrows. If you are looking for better focus and clarity, go for about thirty minutes daily.
However, if you want spiritual enlightenment, you may need to work up to one hour twice daily. If your ambition is to learn how to meditate for spiritual reasons, you need to:
- Choose a comfortable position
- Relax your body and mind
- Let go of negative thoughts
- Utter a prayer or mantra
When you have accomplished these stages, you will then reflect on yourself. Let the effects of the meditation set in. Feel how light and free you are. Stretch a bit if you want, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
There is scientific proof that meditation has a plethora of benefits. If you are new to meditation, or even thinking about meditation, know that it is not just for spiritual purposes and is certainly not a waste of time. The following include some of the science-backed benefits of meditation:
1. Stress Reduction
Mindfulness-based meditation has been proven to have mental health benefits, especially when it comes to stress reduction. When stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, the hormone that controls stress and our fight-or-flight response.
Excessive cortisol in the body can trigger many health issues, including cardiovascular problems and immune system dysfunction. Meditation relaxes your mind and body, which helps decrease your stress levels and calms anxiety. Meditation can have numerous benefits for your mind and body.
Meditation can give you peace and balance in your mind, which calms your nerves. It helps you learn how to remain grounded and focused, which is good for keeping you at the moment and not thinking about possible future outcomes that may or may not come to pass.
2. Decreased Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is an epidemic that affects millions of Americans. Meditation has been proven to promote encouraging results with decreasing blood pressure, especially when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Medical research from the past few years has indicated that daily meditation can help manage blood pressure.
Meditation promotes restful alertness, which is not only good for your brain but also your blood pressure. Another study conducted in pre hypertensive and hypertensive individuals revealed that meditation produces small but essential reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Meditation and relaxation techniques have been indicated to boost nitric oxide in the body, which is a compound that can expand blood vessels and make it easier for blood to move through your body when the heart is pumping.
3. Better Brain Function
Meditation has been found to improve brain structure. Practicing meditation helps your brain to produce more gray matter, which is important for healthy brain cognition. It supports the part of the brain that is connected to memory. Several studies conducted by neuroscientists have confirmed there is a relationship between meditation and improved memory.
A study found that long-term meditators have marked changes in gray and white matter. Meditation is also great for helping with essential human functions, including controlling movement and emotions. Meditation also works on the part of the brain that regulates sleep. Practicing meditation for thirty minutes a day can help you sleep better.
There are many various programs to help you with meditation and better cognitive function. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is a program that teaches mindful meditation, and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy promotes meditative mindfulness with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Meditation has been carried out for thousands of years as a way for people to pray and train their minds to be still. The benefits of meditation are many and are backed by robust scientific research.