In our busy society, it can be easy to let stress pile up. A long day at work or a rough break up are two possible triggers for elevated stress. If you've experienced such pressure, you might have wondered, does meditation work?
We set out to find the answer to this question, and we found some mixed results. Some people love meditation, but others don't care for it. Does meditation work? Let's dive into how meditation can help you unlock a feeling of mindfulness.
Does Meditation Work?
The short answer is that it can work. However, it depends on what you do to make meditation work. You have to have the right mindset, and you have to be willing to let go.
Does meditation work if you're focused on your daily life? No. You have to focus on meditating, and you have to ignore outside thoughts.
Does meditation work if you don't put your all into it? Of course not. The point of meditation is to focus on the present moment.
Some studies show how meditation changes the brain, but it's hard to say whether or not meditation works for everyone. We need to look at the basics of meditation to determine the answer to "does meditation work?"
Block Out The World
As we mentioned, when you meditate, you're supposed to focus on the here and now. Ignore work stress, and don't think about what you're going to have for dinner that night.
Many fans of meditation claim that meditating can reduce anxiety and stress, and it can just make you feel better overall. However, you might want to know how meditation does that.
Not too busy
On the other hand, some people who are hesitant to try meditation believe you have to have a lot of time to do it. Yes, you can spend close to an hour meditating, but you can also practice meditation in as little as five minutes.
Before you start a meditation session, make sure you're mentally and physically ready. You should focus entirely on meditating. So your mind needs to be in the right place, and you need a quiet space to practice meditation.
You can practice meditation after you wake up, before bed, or even on your lunch break.
On The Brain
To understand what happens in your brain when you meditate, you should know a few parts of the brain. First, there's the lateral prefrontal cortex or the Assessment Center. Another important part of the brain is the medial prefrontal cortex or Me Center.
We can then break down the medial prefrontal cortex into two parts. The first part processes information that focuses on you and people who are similar to you. Then the second part of the medial prefrontal cortex processes information about people who are different from you.
Next, there's the insula which focuses on bodily sensations and gut feelings. Finally, there's the amygdala. Also known as the Fear Center, the amygdala signals emotions and the fight or flight response within your brain.
Does meditation work to control anxiety? Reduced anxiety is one of the most common benefits you can get from meditating. According to Psychology Today, your brain's Me Center processes a lot of information that should go to other areas of the brain.
That means that you're more likely to treat problems as part of you and to hang on to small issues. In other words, you're likely to take things personally, like a driver cutting you off.
If you start meditating, your brain builds new connections that divert that information to other parts of the brain, like the bodily sensation center and the Fear Center. That allows you to brush off small things and not overthink.
When you meditate regularly, the connection between your bodily sensation center and Assessment Center improves.
This new connection also diverts those emotional triggers away from the Me Center which helps you take situations and problems them for what they are. So when that same car cuts you off, you can react in a more rational way. Your brain will understand the driver didn't do it to you.
Thanks to meditation, you'll supposedly be able to process stressful situations more rationally. You won't be as tempted to draw a connection to yourself or your emotions.
In their shoes
Lastly, the changes in your brain can help you understand and empathize with other people. Your brain will have a better connection between the more positive part of the Me Center and the bodily sensation center.
That stronger connection helps you understand what someone is going through or where they're coming from. This is especially true for empathizing with people who are different from you.
Being able to empathize with people is an important part of our daily lives. You can help comfort a friend or have a civil discussion with someone who has a different opinion.
Of course, all of these benefits are amazing, but you have to practice meditation consistently to maintain the benefits.
A Meditation A Day
We all know the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Well, meditating each day can keep anxiety at bay. You won't be able to reap the benefits of meditation if you only practice it once or twice per week.
Meditation is a daily thing.
But how does meditation work?
Luckily, meditation is pretty simple. But that doesn't mean it will be easy, at least at first. If you know how to practice meditation the right way, you'll be well on your way to making it work.
You can fit in your meditation as part of your morning or night routine, and you don't need any special equipment.
So, what do you need to meditate? How does meditation work in different places?
Your new routine
If you think you're "too busy" to meditate, try including it in your morning or night routine. You only need a few minutes. Instead of spending five minutes on social media, turn off your phone and focus on yourself.
If you can't practice meditation at home, try and practice it during your lunch break. Surely it doesn't take you a whole hour to eat. Once you finish your meal, find a quiet spot at work to meditate.
If you really want to make meditation work for you, you have to put in the work. The answer to our question "does meditation work" depends on you.
Whether you add a few minutes to your morning routine or you prefer to meditate on your lunch break, you have to make it part of your daily life.
Some people think of meditation as a form of self-care. If you think of it in that way, meditation can work as just that. You're giving yourself time to focus on you and ignore the outside world.
But when you meditate, you have to keep yourself in check.
Find a quiet space where you can focus on you. Enjoy your me-time. If you feel negative thoughts start to creep in, ignore them. It will be hard at first, but it will be worth it.
And if you have a day where you're tempted to skip, think of your reasoning. Was your day rough? Are you tired or stressed? Is that day particularly busy?
On those days, try to remember why you started meditating. How does meditation work? Well, it works because you're focusing on yourself and living in the moment.
When life gets busy, it's easy to let meditation slip through the cracks, but that five minutes of peace can change your entire day. You're never too busy for a little self-care.
Patience is key
Unfortunately, you probably won't see tons of benefits after your first meditation. That's okay.
It takes time to build a new habit, and it takes time for your brain to build new connections. In some ways, meditation is very disciplined. You have to commit to it every day.
Why does mediation work for some people? Because they stick to it until they see the benefits.
We understand why you might be skeptical, but you should give meditation a try before you write it off completely.
So, Does Meditation Work?
We can't say for sure that mediation will work for you. Like anything in life, you have to put in the time and effort. You wouldn't go halfway in on a new diet or workout plan and expect results. Meditation works the same way.
Why does meditation work for some people and not others? Some people make time for meditation, and they make it a daily habit. These people are also patient.
Proponents of meditation know that they can't expect a change right away.
On the other hand, skeptics haven't given much time or thought to the process. You can't expect success to just happen.
Does meditation work? We wish we could say that it does or does not. But in the end, it depends on the person.
It's up to you to make meditation work for yourself.
Have you tried meditation? Did it work for you? Tell us all about it in the comments!