Meditation is an ancient practice dating back to the 12th century, where it was used to achieve a calm and stable state of mind. Today, many people practice it as a relaxation technique or as a form of stress relief.
If you find that stress is weighing you down and meddling with your day-to-day life, meditation might be exactly what you need to re-centre yourself.
What is meditation?
Meditation is practiced in many cultures, mainly for shifting consciousness, finding inner peace, and sharpening awareness.
In meditation, your mind and body are in a state of relaxation. You train your mind to focus your attention and clear your thoughts of anything that can cause you stress. The mindfulness practice of deep breathing, the practised detachment to the outside stimuli by closing your eyes and shutting out the world (12), employing self body scanning techniques with cognizance and staying in the present moment (13), all lead to self healing. This meditation practice can result in better physical and emotional well-being if practiced correctly and regularly.
Benefits of meditation
A meditation session is a form of mindfulness, and with our minds constantly moving, thinking, and worrying, routinely meditating can be beneficial to your health. Through deliberate focusing of attention, meditation allows us to become calm, and experience heightened awareness (1).
Research shows that effects of stress and stress situations contribute largely to heart disease (14).
Here are some of the benefits of meditation:
Provides stress relief
Meditation allows you to stay focused during periods of anxiousness or stress (2).
It also lets you view your stressful situation in a different light, and to build skills that can help you manage stress. Meditation allows you to focus on the present and reduce bad feelings, while increasing patience and self-awareness (3).
Improves mental health
Meditation overall uplifts your mood. Regularly meditating can also help improve a host of mental conditions, or prevent them altogether.
Research suggests that meditation techniques limit the release of cytokines, an inflammatory chemical that may cause certain mental disorders over time (4).
One study by Annals of Family Medicine examined 150 participants aged 50 and above and grouped them into mindfulness meditation training, moderate-intensity exercise training, and a control group. It was found that the groups of meditation and exercise had reduced their susceptibility to colds compared to the control group (5).
It may be that the relaxing effect from meditation has played a factor, as stress can affect your immune system’s ability to fight off viruses.
Helps with sleep problems
Meditation may be helpful if you have a condition that can be exacerbated by stress, such as problems sleeping. Pay attention to stress management techniques to relieve stress. Meditation is undoubtedly at the top of the list (15).
One study found that people who took part in a mindfulness meditation program showed improvements in sleep, certain mental health conditions and fatigue over a period of time, compared to people who were simply taught sleep hygiene techniques (6).
Meditation is not a replacement for treatment. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider about using meditation and how it can best help you.
Types of meditation
There are many types of meditation with various techniques for different reasons. However, they all share the same goal of achieving calmness and inner peace.
Also known as imagery or visualisation meditation, this method makes use of an image that creates a feeling of relaxation.
Guided meditation is used to detach our minds from any unwelcome thoughts. It uses the creative aspect of our mind to help us focus on inner peace.
This technique lets you focus on events that are happening in the present, and allows your thoughts to pass without minding them too much. Through this, you acknowledge your reality and your thoughts.
With this technique, a repetitive sound, word, or phrase is used to clear the mind and prevent distracting thoughts. Sometimes, the meditation is accompanied by a melody, but it works without as well. One of the most common chants is “om.”
A more common practice, yoga is done by performing a series of poses with controlled breathing exercises to produce a more flexible body and calm mind. With concentration and balance, your mind would be more focused on your movements rather than your stressors, acting as a great stress reliever.
Good habits for meditating
Meditating is a learned method. You can learn with a teacher, in group classes, or on your own. Some even incorporate meditation into their daily routine. These are a few ways you can practice meditation on your own and learn to make it a habit:
Practice breathing techniques
This is good for beginners as it’s easy and can be done anywhere. Focusing on your breathing can help you stay calm and stay attentive. If you feel your attention wandering, just breathe deeply and regain your focus.
Go walking and meditate
A stroll outside with fresh air is the perfect setting to meditate on your own. Make sure to have a slow pace and focus your movement on your legs and feet. Don’t forget to be mindful of your surroundings too.
Supplements that can help with stress
While meditation can help you with stress relief, certain nutrients can further support with reducing stress, and helping your body cope with stress. These supplements can be accompanied with a healthy and well-balanced diet to ensure you have adequate amounts of nutrients in your body.
Ashwagandha is a herb traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to enhance the body in adapting to stress. It may improve a person's stress response in the body and reduce symptoms of stress (7).
Magnesium supports general health and wellbeing, as it modulates the activity of the body’s stress-response system (8).
B complex supports a healthy stress response in the body because it regulates the body’s serotonin and norepinephrine levels (9).
Calcium Plus can help protect against stress supporting nerve conduction (10).
Vitamin B12 maintains nervous system function, and a healthy nervous system function can help reduce stress (9).
Ginkgo and Brahmi
Ginkgo and Brahmi enhance the body’s adaptation to stress by reducing the levels of cortisol in the body (11). It can also help relieve symptoms of stress.
Practice makes perfect
Just like every other thing in the world, meditation takes practice and time to perfect. Don’t be discouraged when you feel like you’re not meditating enough or if your mind wanders too much while meditating. What’s important is you slowly return to the mantra, object, or movement you were in.
Meditation is a great method of stress relief. If you are looking for supplementation to help cope with stress, Vitable Australia offers you daily vitamin packs filled with the nutrients that you need. These daily vitamin packs are easy to put together as custom vitamins and minerals to help meet your nutrient targets. Sign up for a vitamins subscription, and take advantage of our nationwide vitamin delivery services.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Better Health Channel. "Meditation". Better Health Channel. Last reviewed 30 Sept 2015 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/meditation. Accessed on 22 September 2021.
- Healthdirect. "Meditation". Healthdirect. Last reviewed April 2020 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/meditation. Accessed on 22 September 2021.
- Annals of Family Medicine. Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Published July 2012 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392293/ Accessed on 18 September 2021
- NIH. Effect of meditation on neurophysiological changes in stress mediated depression. NIH. Published October 2018 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24439650/ Accessed on 18 September 2021
- Mindful.org. "How to Manage Stress with Mindfulness and Meditation". Mindful.org. Published (n.d.) on https://www.mindful.org/how-to-manage-stress-with-mindfulness-and-meditation/. Accessed on 22 September 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress. Mayo Clinic. Published April 2020 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858 Accessed on 17 September 2021
- Vitable. “Ashwagandha Plus”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/ashwagandha-plus. Accessed on 22 September 2021.
- NCBI. “Magnesium and Stress”. NCBI. Published 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/ Accessed on 18 September 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. Vitamin B-12 and depression: Are they related?. Published June 2018 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/vitamin-b12-and-depression/faq-20058077 Accessed on 18 September 2021
- HelpGuide. Calcium and Bone Health. HelpGuide. Published August 2021 on https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/calcium-and-bone-health.htm Accessed on 18 September 2021
- Vitable. Gingko & Brahmi. Vitable. Published on https://www.vitable.com.au/products/ginkgo-brahmi Accessed on 18 September 2021
- https://www.masterclass.com/articles/pratyahara-yoga-guide. Mar 2021.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6753170/. 2019.
- https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2171#:~:text=Studies%20suggest%20that%20the%20high,plaque%20deposits%20in%20the%20arteries. 2022.
- https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858. Apr 2020.