Meditation and mental health - these days it's difficult to think of one without the other and the question always arises, can meditation help mental health?. In this article we will cover 10 ways you can boost your mental health with meditation, covering the science of it with a range of studies.
While these studies are limited to different meditation practices, we also have an abundance of personal stories from people who have practiced this meditation, as well as Hugh Jackman who regularly shares how meditation has improved his mental health. You can decide for yourself
Meditation and Mental Health
In a world where mental health issues are on the rise, people are desperate for solutions. During the COVID lock downs, where people had no choice but to sit with their minds, Australia had the highest volume of people searching for "meditation" on google per capita.
I was sad, but not at all surprised with how I've come to understand the mind. My own mind used to be so complicated and full of stress, anxiety and depression. I realised it was because I had had these experiences in my life, that I had "taken pictures" of them, stored them in my mind, and strengthened that mind by dwelling on it, seeing it in the world, and anticipating constantly.
Many times they would just come up involuntarily - I felt lost and trapped. But as I learnt to let go of those conditions in my mind, gradually I was able to separate from them.
Can Meditation Help Mental Health?
But unfortunately, personal anecdotes don't seem to have much weight (even if it comes from Hugh Jackman!), and people want scientific proof.
The meditation we teach and practice currently doesn't have any scientific studies done on it (although there are studies being conducted in South Korea), however other kinds of meditations like mindfulness and transcendental meditation have had studies conducted. So can meditation help mental health? Let's find out.
I urge you, if you are searching for relief from the pressures and stress in your life, if your health is suffering, please try this discarding meditation. It is so easy once you decide.
1. Stress Reduction:
Meditation helps to reduce stress, as it is a mental exercise that promotes relaxing and regulating the bodies stress responses or fight or flight. If you discard your minds of stress, and the root cause of stress in your mind, this can be one of the most effective ways of dealing with it for good.
2. Anxiety Reduction:
There's no evidence to suggest mindfulness based practices are better than conventional anxiety treatments, but they do work. Hugh Jackman also advocates for a reduction in anxiety through transcendental meditation, and there are many practitioners of this method who also share similar stories. Even Hugh Jackman, and acclaimed actor in a high stress job, attests to how meditation helps reduce his stress and anxiety.
3. Improved Emotional Well-Being:
Many people who meditate will report instances of an increase in well-being. One of the more notable studies was a preliminary study conducted on participants of a 10 day Vipassana retreat. where people reported a boost in their well-being.
4. Enhanced Self-Awareness:
Meditation, especially this method, encourages self reflection which enhances your self awareness. By being aware of your triggers, you can start to regulate your responses. In addition to this, with this method, we also learn how to discard the causes of those triggers from our mind, so we are free from them when they occur.
I did a lot of self-reflection and journaling as well as intensive meditation to help discard the accumulated thoughts and stress of everyday life and responsibilities.
5. Improved Concentration and Attention:
A study of 473 students who had been practicing this meditation for 3 months found that 92.1% of them had an increase in focus and concentration! When you remove the source of distractions from your mind, you can stay focused on the task at hand. Other studies have also shown that it improves symptoms of ADD and ADHD.
6. Reduced Symptoms in Depression:
According to one Harvard study, meditation can reduce symptoms of depression in some people. These were mindfulness based practices, but using the same principles of understanding the mind, that the source within us is what creates the problem in the first place, if we deal with the root cause we can solve the problem from the inside out.
7. Better Sleep:
The Sleep Foundation has stated that meditation practices have been known to improve peoples sleep, and sleep is related to our mental health. I've also spoken to many members of this meditation who have reported "having the best sleep in their life" after a few days of meditating and clearing away the source of the thoughts from their mind!
8. Enhanced Resilience:
A rested brain can more easily maintain resilience, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine. A rested brain becomes less reactive, and when you clear away the source of the disturbances in your mind, you can maintain this rested state for much longer periods of time.
I realised through meditation that a lot of things people were saying were not necessarily spoken to undermine my confidence. I had victim mentality so I thought people were speaking negatively about me. I realised this was not always the case and they weren’t attacking me, they were just speaking their own mind.
9. Increased Compassion and Empathy:
People who have high levels of compassion and empathy tend to function better in society, which also leads to higher degrees of well being. Through this practice, we learn that we are all one, so it's impossible to not have compassion and empathy when you know in your heart.
10. Reduction in Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD in studies on mindfulness practices, which increases mental well-being.
Conclusion: Are You Convinced That Meditation Can Help Mental Health?
There are many studies which show meditation can improve ones mental health, has it been enough to convince you that medication can help mental health? While there are none that specifically validate this meditation practice, there are many stories on our YouTube channel and throughout the centre's around the world which practice this same method.
Either way, the evidence is mounting, and if you're desperate for a solution, maybe it's time to take the leap of faith and stop listening to other people and just try it for yourself? After all, it's the only way you're ever going to truly know!