Positive Effects of Meditation on Psychological and Physical Well-being
Meditation is considered among the best strategies for dealing with the daily stresses of life. Meditation is a learned technique used to refocus attention that brings about a changed state of consciousness (Feldman, 2018). It involves the repetition of a sound, word, mantra, or syllable over and over. Sitting in a quiet environment with the eyes closed, breathing rhythmically and deeply, and repeating a sound or word repeatedly. They are practiced at least twice daily for 20 minutes for enhanced results. For many years, individuals have been practicing meditation to deepen their understanding of life’s mystical and sacred forces (Mayo Clinic staff, 2020). However, besides these original purposes, individuals in the current society practice meditation to reduce stress and relax. This enables individuals to attain a holistic sense of mind, body, and soul. Through meditation, individuals can achieve a sense of tranquility. This paper will focus on the positive effects of meditation on psychological and physical well-being. Generally, studies have shown that meditation enhances general well-being by promoting a sense of peace and tranquility, enabling individuals to deal better with stress and attain better physical health, as observed in a reduction in chronic pain and blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation are often used interchangeably, but they are different. Mindfulness is a broad concept, and meditation falls under its umbrella. Meditation is the formal practice that helps calm the mind and enhance awareness of the self, the environment, and the mind (Behan, 2020). Meditation has been practiced since time immemorial. Mindfulness is a more recent term that refers to being aware of the present times. Allen et al. (2017) define mindfulness as the skill of being present in the moment through awareness and attention and involves cultivating an attitude of patience, non-striving, and non-judging. Mindfulness and meditation have been linked with major positive results, such as reduced depression, stress, physical health symptoms, and improved interpersonal relationship quality and sleep quality (Allen et al., 2017).
Forms of Meditation
There are several types of meditation that individuals indulge in. Some of them include guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, and yoga. The first is a guided meditation or guided visualization of imagery in which an individual must form mental images of situations or places they find relaxing. Mantra meditation involves silently repeating a calming word, phrase, or thought to avoid distracting thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is founded on being mindful or more aware and accepting of the present moment, and one must focus on the present, such as present emotions, thoughts, and flow of breath. Transcendental meditation does not require any form of training, control, or concentration; one is required only to avoid distracting thoughts and be in a state of pure consciousness. Yoga is another commonly practiced form of meditation involving postures and controlled breathing exercises to help improve flexibility and calm the mind (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2020). According to Kanchibhotla, Subramanian, and Kulkarni (2021), meditation and yoga record increased benefits for an individual in terms of lessening mental and physical distress and reducing anxiety and stress levels among individuals. Nonetheless, there are many more meditations, such as Tai chi, Qi gong, and loving-kindness meditation.
Meditation and Psychological Well-being
Regular meditation practice enables individuals to respond to their environment and any stressor with more equanimity and calm over time (Behan, 2020). Mechanisms proposed to explain the reduction in stress following meditation include an enhanced capacity to cope with any stressful situation and improved attention regulation (Bostock et al., 2019). Mindfulness training promotes positive reappraisal of a stressful situation as meaningful or benign and can enhance recovery from adverse emotional events (Bostock et al., 2019; Mayo Staff Clinic, 2020). Research shows changes in brain regions related to stress and anxiety upon meditation (Allen et al., 2017). The hippocampus, cingulate cortex, and prefrontal cortex also showed elevated activity, and the amygdala recorded reduced activity, consistent with enhanced emotional regulation (Behan, 2020). These enable individuals to evaluate stressful situations better and manage them better.
Meditation using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, and meditation using focused attention have recorded lessened anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, as well as cortisol levels and other stress biomarkers (Behan, 2020). Meditation can also reduce worry, hostility, and discouragement among young individuals and enhance working memory (Kanchibhotla, Subramanian & Kulkarni, 2021). The tranquility and peace that one obtains while meditating makes it possible for one to record reduced levels of anxiety and depression and be able to assess stressors from a new and better perspective.
Meditation also improves interpersonal relationship quality, which is good for the mind and general well-being (Allen et al., 2017). Transcendental meditation is said to have a higher impact on enhancing general well-being, academic attainment, and social competence (Kanchibhotla, Subramanian & Kulkarni, 2021). According to He et al. (2015), loving-kindness meditation increases social positivity and connection towards strangers, increasing one’s daily positive emotional experiences. Positivity and joy bring individuals closer and are necessary for maintaining and forming strong interpersonal relations (He et al., 2015). Consequently, individuals record an increase in life satisfaction and quality of relations, improving their general psychological well-being.
Meditation and Physical Well-being
Meditation promotes the physical well-being of an individual as the body engages in healing and repairing itself. Mayo Clinic staff (2020) claims that during meditation, the heart rate and respiratory rates drop, leading to reduced oxygen consumption and reduced carbon dioxide expiration, enabling the body to heal and start repairing. This also helps in slowing down the cognitive effects of aging.
Furthermore, regular meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure (Bostock et al., 2019). Meditation also helps improve physical health symptoms and sleep quality (Allen et al., 2017). Among older adults, mindfulness and meditation enhance adherence to vigorous physical exercise, essential in maintaining cardiorespiratory fitness (Allen et al., 2017). Meditation also helps to reduce chronic pain and the general quality of life (Hilton et al., 2017). Hilton et al. (2017) further claim that meditation can help lessen pain for musculoskeletal conditions, chronic back pain, migraine, and fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic staff (2020) argues that meditation enables individuals to manage better symptoms of such conditions as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, cancer, and heart disease.
When combined with yoga, meditation can help strengthen and tone individuals’ muscles and improve their flexibility. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins on the benefits of yoga showed that participants recorded a significant drop in pain, heightened energy levels, and improved physical functions and moods (John Hopkins, 2021). Yoga can also help in maintaining a healthy weight. Generally, yoga promotes physical and mental energy, increases enthusiasm and alertness, and reduces negative feelings.
Meditation and mindfulness have various psychological and physical benefits that help improve general well-being and quality of life. Meditation emphasizes the connection of the mind, body, and soul and, therefore, to record a holistic state of health and well-being. Various studies have shown a significant improvement in stress and emotional regulation, resilience, and cognitive performance through regular meditation. Through regular meditation, individuals can better manage symptoms of anxiety dep, sessions, and other illnesses, particularly those induced by stress. Meditation also boosts interpersonal relationships by promoting and transferring positive emotions from one person to another, enabling an individual to record an improved state of mind. Furthermore, meditation helps improve physical well-being by promoting better respiratory and cardiovascular health and enhancing resilience to chronic pain, improving quality of life. Practices like yoga enable individuals to attain better muscle tone, strength, and flexibility.
Allen, T. D., Henderson, T. G., Mancini, V. S., & French, K. A. (2017). Mindfulness and meditation are moderators of the relationship between age and subjective well-being among working adults. Mindfulness, 8(4), 1055-1063.
Behan, C. (2020). The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19. Irish journal of psychological medicine, 37(4), 256-258.
Bostock, S., Crosswell, A. D., Prather, A. A., & Steptoe, A. (2019). Mindfulness on-the-go: Effects of a mindfulness meditation app on work stress and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 24(1), 127–138.
Feldman, R.S. (2018). Essentials of understanding psychology. McGraw Hill Education.
He, X., Shi, W., Han, X., Wang, N., Zhang, N., & Wang, X. (2015). The interventional effects of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions and interpersonal interactions. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 1273.
Hilton, L., Hempel, S., Ewing, B. A., Apaydin, E., Xenakis, L., Newberry, S.,& Maglione, M. A. (2017). Mindfulness meditation for chronic pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51(2), 199-213.
John Hopkins. (2021). 9 Benefits of Yoga. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-benefits-of-yoga
Kanchibhotla, D., Subramanian, S., & Kulkarni, S. (2021). Improvement in cognitive abilities, mental and emotional well-being of teenagers following a meditation retreat: an open-trial pilot study. Adolescent psychiatry, 11(1), 16-24.
Mayo Clinic staff. (2020). Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress. Mayo clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858#:~:text=Meditation%20can%20also%20reduce%20the,healing%20itself%20and%20starting%20repair.%22
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You must complete one-course paper during the 8-week Term; it will be due at the end of Unit 7. Please note that before completing the course paper, you will complete three other assignments designed to help you write a successful course paper. These include:
- Unit 2: Select your Topic for the course paper
- Unit 3: Complete the Paper Resources Assignment
- Unit 5: Complete the Paper Outline Assignment
These assignments are designed to help you complete your paper in stages. You will be graded on these assignments and receive feedback from your Instructor so you will be comfortable that you are on the “right track” to complete the course paper in Unit 7.
Incorporating your Instructor’s feedback from Unit 3 and Unit 5 Assignments into your final course paper is strongly recommended.
- Using your approved topic from Unit 2, write a research paper similar to a literature review discussing what information is currently known about your
- Include a discussion of psychological concepts AND key research findings relevant to your chosen topic. Your incorporation of concepts and research should come from the information you find through reading scholarly sources and journal articles (from your course paper resources assignment due in Unit 3).
- Your paper will be organized into three main sections: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion (do not label them as such). Organize your paper according to the themes you identified in your outline (submitted in Unit 5).
- Include specific examples that support the theory and
- Please note that this is NOT an opinion
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