Over the past decade, there has been a growing body of research documenting the benefits of meditation practice. The research strongly supports the use of meditation as an effective way of reducing anxiety, stress, depression and other forms of emotional and physical pain. Research studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire important areas of the brain that can improve emotional regulation, mood, attention and concentration, patience and compassion.
What this research really suggests is that through meditation practice we can actually train our brain to function in ways that promote well-being. We don’t have to be influenced by the stories in our mind that often dictate how we view ourselves and the world at any given moment. We can train our mind to be less reactive and more responsive to cultivate the ability to maintain calm even in the midst of inner storms.
Our mind is constantly evaluating if what is happening is “good or bad”. Judgment and evaluation can often be valuable tools. They help us navigate the world and determine our likes and dislikes. However, when we begin to judge our inner experiences, we tend to create more stress and suffering for ourselves. Consistent meditation practice can significantly reduce judgmental thinking. A life with greater compassion and kindness can greatly improve your self-confidence and relationships.
So often our minds are on automatic pilot focused on painful events from the past or worried about the future. By cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, our minds can begin to step out of “automatic pilot mode” and allow us to connect with the immediacy of our experience. Being mindful can make a difference in how you make decisions and respond to others.
Mindfulness meditation emphasizes that while all people experience distress in life, suffering is optional. Acceptance of reality, though often quite challenging, can be liberating. With mindfulness practice, we begin to see that life is not just “what happens” but more importantly how we respond. Lastly, when you focus on the present moment, you learn that thoughts and emotions have a natural ebb and flow. You can learn to not get so “hooked into” these uncomfortable experiences understanding that they will eventually pass.