Last Updated on March 10, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Meditation is a technique individuals use to achieve a mentally and emotionally calm state, eventually promoting happiness. It is used to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and is also considered as the path towards enlightenment and self-realization. It is not about becoming a different or a better person. It’s more focused on training yourself to see life from a different perspective.
Referred as dhyāna in Hinduism where it’s believed to have started, every religion has practised meditation of some sort in one or many of their cultural traditions. Although the dictionary defines it as ‘act of focusing your mind to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm’, the word ‘meditation’ comprises of countless practices completely different than one another making it difficult to give a proper definition.
Meditation has slowly affected millions of people around the world and everyone has either a direct or indirect relation with it. While you might think that meditation always has a positive effect on a person, it is not true and there are people have experienced its negative aspects.
However, it is important to understand the primary reason why meditation came to existence before its pros and cons as history has a direct influence on how meditation is used these days.
A Brief History
The earliest records of meditation come from ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. The history of meditation has an intimate bond with the religious context within which it was performed. Some form of exercises involving attention and concentration were found during the Roman Empire. While Buddhism was spreading in China, it also spread meditation as Lord Buddha himself was an ideal example.
During the 12th century, the Islamic community included specific techniques where the people practised to control breathing and repeat holy words. This specific idea seems to have approached Greece as hesychasm, a Christian Mysticism also contains a repetition of Jesus Prayers.
By the late 19th century, meditation had spread in the west due to increased communication among cultures worldwide. Most recently, western interest in meditative practices increased dramatically. About 200-500 million people are estimated to meditate worldwide. But consider these pros and cons of meditation before deciding if meditation is the right thing for you.
Pros of Meditation
1. Stress Reduction
Mental and physical stress is completely normal in everyday busy life. Stress is caused by an increased level of a hormone called cortisol. Mindfulness meditation creates a response to the hormones making people easier to achieve peace. This meditation can reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress 73% of time.
2. Anxiety Control
Habitual Meditation has been helping thousands of people to reduce anxiety whether is work-related or a result of overthinking. Mental health issues like phobias and panic attacks have significantly improved due to activities like yoga according to various surveys.
3. Boost Emotional Health
Emotional health is really important for a person to create a positive outlook on life. Studies show that meditation boosts a person’s emotional health and it is very unlikely that a person who’s practising different types of meditation is suffering from depression or inferiority complex.
4. Increased Attention Span
Attention span is the total time one can concentrate on a task without being distracted. Studies have shown that people who meditate tend to stay focused on a task longer than the rest and also remember details than their peers. Nowadays, people find it more difficult to pay attention for a long time. Meditation can help with that.
5. Improved Sleep
There are various meditation techniques that help you relax and control different thoughts that interfere with your sleep. This can initiate your sleep quicker and also help to promote it. Many people suffering from insomnia have stopped their sleeping pills days after their first meditation. Sleeping pills have dangerous side effects and one should always know the disadvantages of sleeping pills before using them.
6. You Can Meditate Almost Anywhere
Unlike gyms or fitness centres, you do not need any specific place to carry out your meditation. You can perform them in your bed, in the living room or in your garden. Everything a person needs to meditate is a clear, calm mind and an environment where he/she feels relaxed.
7. Helps Control Pain
Pain perception is directly connected to your state of mind which can easily elevate in a stressful environment. People who meditate show less sensitivity to pain than their peers. This is really helpful in cases where pain is inevitable like migraines.
8. Helps Decrease Blood Pressure
Many studies show that practising meditation is beneficial to people suffering from high blood pressure. More than 80% of the people claim to have improved blood pressure after practising meditation. It also reduces strain on heart preventing heart diseases.
Cons of Meditation
While cons are not applicable to everyone who tries meditation, they are worth discussing because it might have an effect on you. Also to mention, these negative aspects are nitpicked and do not apply for a large group of people.
1. Re-living Old Memories
Meditation can bring up memories of the past you don’t want to think about. It could be bad experiences, painful memories or even grief you don’t like recalling. These thoughts are powerful enough to affect your life and attending therapy or counselling would be much better in this case rather than trying to meditate.
2. Difficult to Feel the Change Instantly
Different people have a different way of accepting life and some people might feel like meditation doesn’t work for them. You might feel like you wasted your 30 minutes full of stress and fatigue. Wasting your time for what was supposed to be the cure to your stress might even make you go crazy.
So should one start a regular meditation practice? Absolutely! Meditation has endless benefits which clearly outweigh the demerits. Rather than looking it as the answer to your problem, look it as a way to feel relaxed. Try out a meditation that best suits you and you’ll surely see some positive changes in you. Giving a few minutes of your day to improve the quality of life will always be a big YES!