Whether or not you struggle with a mental health condition, meditation is a powerful tool to support your mental health. There are countless mental health benefits including reduced stress, decreased anxiety and improved quality of life. Continue reading for a short overview of how meditation can improve your mental health and how you can begin your journey.
Less Stressed, More Blessed
Stress reduction is one of the many profound benefits of meditation. So many people experience chronic stress on a regular basis, which takes a toll on our bodies and minds. When we pause and meditate, we have the opportunity to decrease the stress response in our bodies and declutter our minds. There is also no right or wrong answer when it comes to how long you meditate for and where you meditate. You could pause for 5 minutes while on the bus, or spend 10 minutes of your lunch break in a silent, meditate state. You could meditate in the shower, or first thing in the morning when you wake up. However you choose to meditate, you are sure to benefit from reduced stress levels over time, which is connected to a decrease in anxiousness and feelings of irritability or tension.
Over time, meditation has the power to shift your perspective and encourage a more positive outlook of gratitude and contentment. The process could even help you reframe negative experiences as opportunities for learning and growth. Because of the positive mental health benefits, anyone who has taken an addictions and mental health program or a personal support worker program should consider introducing meditation into their practice as an additional support for clients.
There are many countless styles and types of meditation for you to explore. Ideally, the process should be inclusive and adaptable. What works beautifully for one person may not be ideal or comfortable for you. Depending on your style and preferences, you may prefer listening to a guided meditation with spoken words from a meditation teacher or spiritual guide. You may also enjoy silent meditation with or without a simple timer on your phone, or meditating to ambient music or even binaural beats. There are many accessible and completely free mobile apps you can explore, including Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace. If you are fairly new to meditation or are unsure where to start, here is a shortlist of recommended guided meditations to get you inspired:
- The Southern Sea by Garth Stevenson
- Becoming Pure Consciousness by Devin McCrorey
- Living with Gratitude and Abundance by Lauren Ash
- Finding Calm and Serenity by Russell Brand
- Making Your Life Sacred by Sarah Blondin
- The Nordland Night Train with Erik Braa
- Completely Immersed in Love by Great Meditation
Meditation and Addiction
Meditation plays an integral role in many alcohol and drug recovery programs, because of the numerous mental health benefits. There is also plenty of research to support this. An extensive study was conducted in 2018 on the integration of transcendental meditation into treatment plans for alcoholism and substance abuse. The study featured participants from a number of substance abuse treatment centres in Maryland, Baltimore and the research was conducted in association with Maharishi Foundation International, University of Maryland, and Friends Research Institute. The findings were overwhelmingly positive. Over a period of three months, the more consistently participants practiced transcendental meditation each and every day, the less they experienced chronic stress, cravings or thoughts of relapse. The daily practice of meditation also positively impacted psychological wellness, with fewer participants reporting feelings of distress. Most impressively, people in recovery who practiced transcendental meditation on a daily basis were statistically safer from relapse. On average, 25% of the participants who meditated returned to drinking, compared to 59% of the participants who did not meditate.
Recognizing and appreciating the mental health benefits of meditation is particularly worthwhile if you are considering completing a mental health worker certificate program or a developmental services worker program. Mindfulness and a strong foundation in education will help you do a lot of good, whether or not you have lived experience. To learn more, you can also check out our previous blogs about emotion regulation for improved interpersonal effectiveness and how to explore mental health through open and accessible conversations.