The Stress-Relieving Benefits of Meditation
How can we learn to better manage our stress and give our nervous system an opportunity to rest?
Studies have shown that most people in North America suffer from moderate to high levels of stress. Money and work are two of the most common sources of anxiety, with relationships and health concerns following close behind. Additionally, in this era of digital connectivity, there is always something vying for our attention while we tend to our daily responsibilities and seemingly endless list of tasks. In this atmosphere, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed.
For thousand’s of years, people have practiced mediation for its countless benefits. Numerous neuroscience studies also show that meditating regularly can help us slow down, calm our nervous system, teach us to be more present, and give us a broader perspective of our lives. At Dimensions, mediation is an essential element of our Retreats because it promotes five important outcomes:
Reduces stress and improves mood
Through meditation, we can relax our nervous system and enter a state of “rest and digest.” In this state, the primary stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced. Meanwhile, dopamine and serotonin levels increase, which improves our moods.
Brings us into the present
We aren’t fully engaged in the moment when our minds wander to past experiences or future possibilities. Mindfulness requires being consciously aware and focused on what is happening right now. When we are fully present, we’re better able to cultivate peace and gratitude, and we begin to appreciate and recognize all of the positive things around us.
Increases cognitive flexibility
As we practice mindfulness, we become better able to adapt our behavior and thinking as we respond to our surroundings. As a result, we become more resilient to stress. Practiced regularly, meditation also improves attention, memory and alertness.
Strengthens social connections and empathy
Meditation that practices loving kindness increases positive feelings towards others and helps us understand that suffering is part of the human experience –– we all experience it at some point in our lives. As a result, we feel more connected to others and enjoy better relationships. Through this form of meditation, we also develop empathy and compassion for ourselves.
Improves emotional regulation
As we practice mindfulness, we learn to accept the emotions we are experiencing. When we become adept at noticing and observing uncomfortable feelings and emotions, we increase our ability to process them. Acknowledging, accepting and observing our emotions – rather than suppressing them –– encourages us to stay with uncomfortable experiences, which cultivates greater emotional resiliency.
Whether you’re new to meditation or an experienced practitioner, our 25-minute Be Here Now meditation can help you clear your mind and connect with the present moment. You will also learn how to stimulate the vagus nerve through the power of diaphragmatic breathing – taking deep, refreshing breaths from the belly – which initiates the “rest and digest” response. Practicing Be Here Now everyday for 21 days can help you develop new neural pathways that, when reinforced, will make it easier to live in the moment, even when you aren’t meditating. To begin, simply find a quiet spot anywhere you feel comfortable.
Experience our Be Here Now meditation here