As the psychological benefits of meditation are supported by studies, more of us are choosing to fit some form of meditation into our daily routines.
There are many different types of meditation, varying from Zen and mindfulness meditation through to visualization and mantras – just to name a few. Whatever your preference, meditation can help to support your mind as you go through your busy life. While there are benefits to meditating at any time during the day, early morning meditation can help you to start the day with a healthy and calm mind. When practiced consistently, there are some seriously positive benefits.
Why is the morning the best time to meditate?
More often than not, the thoughts and routines we have in the morning set us up for the rest of the day. If you start your day off positively, you are more likely to have a positive day and vice versa. A study carried out by staff members of the Harvard Business Review has confirmed this. When surveying multiple customer service representatives, the researchers found that “those who started out each day happy or calm usually stayed that way throughout the day” while “people who started the day in a terrible mood did not really climb out of it, and felt even worse by the end of the day”. With this in mind, morning meditation can help to initiate a domino effect of positivity throughout the day. When practiced daily – this effect has the potential to be lifechanging.
What are the benefits of meditation?
In addition to supporting a healthy mind, meditation also has significant long-term mental and physical benefits. Meditation is a tool to relieve stress-related mental health problems and to handle everyday situations in a calmer manner. New studies even suggest that meditation may affect positive changes in the way our brains form and function.
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
A standout benefit of meditation is that it reduces stress and helps us handle anxiety in a healthy way. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation, in particular, reduces cortisol levels in the blood. While cortisol is necessary for our bodies to function healthily, prolonged high levels of this hormone are linked to increased feelings of anxiety. When these levels are brought back to a healthy level, we are able to function more calmly and happily.
Positive Brain Changes
The results of a 2006 study suggest that meditation might actually change our brain for the better. The study found that meditation positively changes areas of the brain that are related to attention, interoception, and sensory processing. The study also found that meditation enhanced cortical thickness (an area of the brain which influences cognitive and emotional processing) – which typically thins with age. Enhanced cortical thickness is commonly associated with enhanced intelligence.
Sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. According to a 2015 study, mindfulness meditation can help us to get more of it. The study, which looks into mindfulness meditation as a treatment for insomnia, suggests that meditation could be more effective than pharmacotherapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy in treating insomnia and that it can result in positive long-term results.
What styles of meditation can I choose from?
There are a lot of meditation styles out there, and the best way to find the right fit for you is to try them. Apps such as Calm offer a good introduction to meditation styles and techniques. And there are also plenty of guided meditations available online for free. Alternatively, you might want to try a local class led by an experienced meditation teacher. To gain an understanding of what styles might work well for you, check out the meditations below.
Great for those who want to be present and cope better with stress, mindfulness meditation often focuses on breathwork, body scanning, and/or paying attention to surroundings. Try it here.
Mantra meditations can be a helpful tool when you feel like you need to shift your mindset. It involves repeating a phrase or mantra, either out loud or in your mind. Try it here.
Zen Buddhism meditation
Zen meditation primarily focuses on breathwork, spirituality, and a connection with nature through visualization. Try it here.
Visualization meditation involves picturing an image or experience in your mind in order to attain a desired mental state. Try it here.
Body scan meditation
Body scan meditations work to focus on and release stress from areas of your body. If you feel like your body is holding a lot of tension, you might find this style beneficial. Try it here.
This style of meditation involves guiding your emotions toward a positive thought process and mood of being loving and kind to yourself and others. Try it here.
Founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental meditation involves silently repeating a mantra in your mind. Try it here.