The Many Benefits of Meditation

By Shelley Galasso Bonanno, MA, LLP

Since the pandemic started, many have expressed increased symptoms of anxiety and stress. Feeling uncertain and unsettled in a world we cannot control. Difficulties sleeping and disruption to inner calm prevails. Many report feeling tense, on edge and find it difficult to relax. Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic and political events have left us feeling emotionally overwhelmed and unable to relax our minds. Now more than ever, people appear to be searching for new solutions to achieve a sense of inner calm.

Research confirms the rates of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed since the pandemic struck. Meditation has been around for centuries and it has become more widely used in the United States to relieve stress and tension. Research has consistently shown that mediating every day, even for short periods of time, can lead to reduced tension, irritability and anxiety. In short, it has been scientifically proven to help us feel more relaxed and less stressed.

People meditate to manage stress, reduce anxiety and for peace of mind. Numerous studies have found that mediation can have an incredibly positive impact on both mental and physical health. It can help reduce blood pressure, increase clarity and contribute to a sense of calm. By becoming more self-aware and mindful of the everyday world around us, mediation can make us kinder by improving our compassion not only for ourselves but for others. It can help us feel more connected in our relationships. Meditation can increase positivity in our thoughts and contribute to a general overall sense of well-being. It can increase gratitude and help us feel more grounded.

And the best thing? Anyone can learn to practice meditation. It takes no special equipment or skills and can be done in any quiet place. While meditation is something that does need to be learned and practiced, it is simple and once mastered, it can help increase resilience beyond the time of meditation, leaving us feeling more prepared to face the world. While many have spent years learning and mastering meditation, today there are many internet apps and YouTube videos that can introduce mediation techniques to those contemplating the practice of meditation. You can learn it in a few minutes and spend a lifetime increasing your skills.

In short, to meditate sit in a comfortable position, count silently as you take ten deep breaths in and out, and then repeat. When you notice your mind begin to wander, start the count anew. While there are many variations, you can begin with this basic technique. Once you have learned how to meditate, it is a skill you can practice anywhere and carry with you, allowing you the inner tools you need to begin to quickly turn your negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

Consistently setting aside a few minutes every day—to let go, breathe and recharge, can go a long way to improve both our physical and mental health. However, if you find your symptoms of anxiety or depression are becoming overwhelming and lasting more than several consecutive weeks, do not hesitate to seek professional help with a licensed therapist. Therapy can address persistent symptoms and may even incorporate meditation into the development of an effective treatment plan.

While the time investment is relatively small, the rewards of meditation can be great. Setting aside time for ourselves, although difficult to do during these unprecedented times, is important now more than ever. If you have been curious about meditation, this might be the right time to learn more about this practice for creating inner calm.

Shelley BonannoA lifelong resident of Macomb County, Shelley Galasso Bonanno is a practicing limited licensed psychologist who earned her master’s degree from Wayne State University in 1987. She has a breadth of experience in working with adults, children, families, and couples. In addition to working in private practice, Ms.Bonanno performs consultative services for State and forensic agencies. She performs custody and parenting time evaluations and is a court approved mediator. Her writings have appeared in various online and print publications. An advocate for mental health, you can follow Ms. Bonanno on Twitter @shelleybonanno.

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