By Shane Butler
Meditation is a mental exercise that allows one to reach a heightened state of awareness. It is a broad field, with multiple techniques stemming from different traditions, cultures, and spiritual disciplines.
Each of these traditions prescribes its own way of finding awareness and inner harmony. Despite these differences, there's a common thread that links them all together: a focus on breathing.
The Link Between Breathing and Meditation
Quoting the words of the renowned monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, "Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." Through your breathing, you become in tune with your life force. And that's why it is the centerpiece of meditation.
Even mindfulness meditation, one of the most popular meditation techniques, has a strong focus on breathwork. It requires the person to focus on their breathing and trace how the air flows throughout their body. This brings forth a heightened level of self-awareness.
Essentially, your breathing is the foundation of your meditation practices. It's what you anchor yourself on as you search for inner tranquility. And by aligning yourself with your breathwork, you heighten the positive effects of meditation.
Here are just a few ways meditation has proven to be a beneficial practice:
Meditation Reduces Stress
Stress alleviation is one of the most common reasons why people try meditation. It clears one's mind of distracting thoughts and promotes a deep state of relaxation.
The resulting state of tranquility is effective in reducing stress and enhancing one's emotional well-being.
Meditation Promotes One's Mental Health
Apart from reducing stress, meditation also boosts one's mental health. For instance, the reduction of stress directly correlates to decreased anxiety levels. It can also lead one to hold a more positive outlook on life.
One study on the matter even shows that meditation therapy can reduce symptoms of depression.
Meditation Reduces Job Burnout
Lastly, meditation has been proven to reduce job burnout. It moderates one's negative outlook on their workload through the alleviation of emotional exhaustion.
This, in turn, pushes a person to adopt a more problem-focused coping method, rather than an emotionally charged one, which is the healthier approach in dealing with work-related stress.
Depersonalizing exhaustion is crucial in a person’s line of work because as it allows for a more rational approach to relieving job burnout.
Where Meditation is Applied
The benefits of meditation reach far beyond the confines of a person's home and beyond the corporate world. In the healthcare sector, mental health professionals recommend mindfulness practices to their clients. They serve as convenient yet effective self-care measures.
It reduces a patient's negative thoughts and alleviates the harmful effects of their mental health condition. Plus, mindfulness practices are minimally invasive, making them ideal for patients who might be resistant to other types of intervention.
Psychiatric nurses also implement meditation into their practice. They specialize in assessing the mental health needs of the patient and creating a nursing care plan. Psychiatric nurses are competent caregivers, as they're required to complete an RN to BSN degree, where they learn the required skills needed for this field.
This allows them to provide advanced care to patients and also serves as a stepping-stone to further specialize. With in-depth knowledge of psychiatry, they can then assist their patients with their breathing and meditation practices. These serve as means to alleviate the adverse effects of their mental health conditions.
And even to this day, psychiatric research is conducted to further explore the link between meditation and mental health. Apart from alleviating stress and the negative effects of some mental health conditions, it's also known to help individuals sleep better. Other studies even show that it can improve brain function.
Note, also, that meditation is being used to promote health outside of the medical field. It's becoming commonplace in schools across the world, helping students deal with their academic stresses.
Teachers have started incorporating mindfulness meditation into their classes. During these sessions, the students close their eyes, rest their hands on their knees, and listen to their teacher as they spoke in a calm, quiet voice.
So far, the results have been positive. Educators reported that the students were calmer, more relaxed, and more open to learning.
Remember: to fully reap the benefits of meditation, you need to be hyper aware of your breathing. This is what makes it such an essential factor. Though note that there are other ways to enhance your meditation experience.
One option is to include BoomBoom's products in your practice. The different types of oils — from peppermint to lavender — all have their own set of benefits that add to your current method of meditation. Plus, the pleasant aroma can help focus on your breathing more.
If you're interested in trying them, check out the store!