Meditation and Mental Wellness

October 7, 2020     •     Lifstyle

By, Jennifer James

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Mental health, stability and wellness are core aspects of good health. Just as our physical bodies succumb to various diseases and deterioration, our mental health can also start to unravel when left unchecked.

What are the first two thoughts that come into your mind when you think about improving your health? For me, I thought that I should work on reducing my sugar intake and spend more time being active. Research shows that I am not alone in these thoughts, as the top two factors that Americans focus on when reflecting on their health are diet and exercise.

While both diet and exercise are vital components to every individual’s wellbeing, there is another very important—and frequently neglected—third aspect that we all must prioritize in order to live long, happy and healthy lives: our mental health.

Mental health, stability and wellness are core aspects of good health. Just as our physical bodies succumb to various diseases and deterioration, our mental health can also start to unravel when left unchecked.

As a college student, I frequently spend more time trying to balance my google calendar than reflecting on my own thoughts, worries and feelings. This practice eventually caught up with me during my second year of college, when I identified that I was feeling easily burnt out as a result of neglecting my own mental health.

I realized then that it was unsustainable to ignore my emotions and began searching for feasible ways to start prioritizing my mental health. A friend recommended Headspace to me, introducing me to the practice of meditation. Once I began implementing meditation into my daily fitness routine, I began feeling significantly less stressed and more adept at tackling my school work and various other commitments. And perhaps even more importantly, meditation helped me to reconnect with myself. As a result, I have been able to focus more energy on building more meaningful and fulfilling relationships with friends and family.

Meditation and Mental Wellness

Once I began implementing meditation into my daily fitness routine, I began feeling significantly less stressed and more adept at tackling my school work and various other commitments.

Amidst the isolation and anxiety brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now more important than ever to practice wellness. Meditation is an easy way to stay in touch with yourself amidst the whirlwind of today’s world, and can be combined with yoga or pilates if you are looking to break a sweat at the same time. In addition, meditation takes little time out of your day, can be done from the safety of your own home and has incredible mental health benefits—have I mentioned that yet?

You might be wondering, what exactly is meditation? The origins of meditation date back 50,000 years ago, when the practice developed as a ritual used in a variety of religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today, meditation is still used for religious worship, but has also developed into a secular practice used for wellness and mindfulness.

Here are some terms of eastern foundation that play a significant role in the practice of meditation: karma, swadharma, dharma, buddhi, samskara, vasana, kriya, viveka, vairagya and sannyasa. Karma is the summation of an individual’s actions—in both their own life and in previous states of existence—that act as a deciding factor in their future. Swadharma is one’s own unique role/talent in life, and dharma is a moral code that governs all things. Buddhi has to do with intellectual faculty, which is further developed in samskara and vasana—two terms that describe how our individual ideas come together to form impressions, dispositions, hopes and wishes. Kriya is a type of meditation that focuses on breathing patterns and viveka is a practice of deciphering between the real and unreal, the eternal and temporary. Lastly, vairagya and sannyasa are vital components to detach from materialism. There are many other terms you may encounter while practicing meditation, but these terms will suffice as a general introduction to the practice.

Meditation and Mental Wellness

Meditation helps to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with headaches, as the long period of inactivity during meditation serves as an escape from discomfort.

Now that you are familiar with the origins and general terminology of meditation, let me tell you a little more about the physical and mental health benefits. Meditation helps to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with headaches, as the long period of inactivity during meditation serves as an escape from discomfort. Research also suggests that meditation is incredibly beneficial to weight loss, as it helps individuals reaffirm their commitment and motivation to health and wellness. In addition, meditation supports lung function through breathing exercises. Memory retention also benefits from the relaxation of the brain during meditation, which simultaneously helps to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Lastly, meditation helps individuals improve their problem solving ability by providing a space to reflect before reacting to situations. As you can see, there are many benefits to meditation—this introduction has really only scratched the surface of them.

The next time you feel overwhelmed or disconnected, take a few minutes to reconnect with your mind and body through meditation. Tutorials and guided meditations are free and easy to find on Youtube.

I hope you found this post informative and inspiring! If you have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me at jenniferjames@astroflav.com.

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