Meditation is a mental process that involves focus and thought. It is a practice that is used in different ways for different purposes. To show the diversity in what meditation means, here are the Merriam Webster definitions of the word:
1)"To engage in contemplation or reflection."
2)To engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetitions of a mantra for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness)."
3)"To plan or project in the mind."
4)"To focus one's thoughts on; reflect on or ponder over."
In other words, meditation happens any time we think on purpose. This means we are meditating during prayer, in our time alone, when we intentionally practice traditional meditation, or even when we are walking in nature.
From the definitions of what meditation is, we find that the word can have different meanings, purposes and uses. Similarly, meditation has been found to have different benefits across a variety of disciplines.
Here are just a few of the cross-disciplinary benefits:
Reduced Anxiety: Activates the relaxation response, improving our heart rate and blood pressure.
Better Sleep: Improves sleep quality and reduces insomnia symptoms.
Pain Managment: Increases awareness and acceptance, which can reduce the perception of pain and assist with our ability to cope with the pain we feel.
Stress reduction: Activates our body's relaxation response by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to calmer feelings.
Emotional Well-Being: Improves emotional regulation and resilience.
Improved Focus and Mental Clarity: Helps our attention span, working memory, and decision making.
Learning and Memory: Improved concentration, information processing, and retention of knowledge
Academic Performance: Creates a supportive environment for effective learning and improved cognitive abilities (brain function)
Social Skills: Increases self-awareness, empathy, and emotional intelligence to help in managing positive peer relationships.
Inner Peace: Allows us to connect with our inner self and develop a sense of peace and contentment.
Self-Reflection and Insight: Creates space for self-reflection and introspection. This helps with our personal growth and spiritual development.
Connection and Oneness: Helps us experience a sense of connection within ourselves, others and the world.
Focus: Better ability to concentrate on tasks with maintained attention, which helps us accomplish more.
Creativity and Problem Solving: Stimulates divergent thinking and boosts our creativity.
Decision Making: Promotes clarity and lowers our impulsivity, which helps us take time to consider choices with a clear and focused mind.
When we learn to embed the practice of meditation into our lives in a variety of ways it can have tremendous positive impacts for our overall well-being. Whether through prayer or a walk, meditation is beneficial for us all.