woman enjoying a moment of meditation

The Healing Benefits of Meditation & Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are practices that can improve your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. They can be done just about anywhere, by anyone, and require no special equipment. They are relatively simple to do and can provide immediate results, but it can take time to appreciate their full value and make a habit of practicing them. Here’s how to get started with meditation and mindfulness and experience their healing benefits.

What’s the Difference Between Meditation and Mindfulness?

According to Cureus, mindfulness is “the relationship between internal and environmental consciousness.” When you engage in mindfulness, you are focusing your attention on your five senses. You notice the sensations you’re experiencing in the present moment in order to observe and appreciate them. Mindfulness also includes elements of acceptance — accepting your sensations and being kind to yourself. 

Meditation is a form of mindfulness, and it generally involves focusing your attention on a word, phrase, your breathing, or a visualization. Noticing your sensations, as you do in mindfulness, may also come into play. The point of meditation is to take a step back from the thoughts, emotions, and feelings that are clouding your mind. Many people find this impossible when they first try to meditate. The goal is not necessarily to rid yourself of these things, only to anchor yourself to the present moment and gain perspective on them, achieving a sense of calm and relaxation. If you’re interrupted by your thoughts and feelings, the practice of mindfulness gives you the opportunity to notice and release them instead of resisting them. 

If you’re interrupted by your thoughts and feelings, the practice of mindfulness gives you the opportunity to notice and release them instead of resisting them. 

The Benefits of Meditation

The benefits of meditation aren’t just mental and emotional; they are physiological. Cureus reports that MRI scans have shown brain changes and improved brain functioning as a result of meditation. Additionally, meditation has a positive effect on the immune system and promotes healthy aging. Here are some other benefits of meditation:

man practicing mindfulness and meditation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced inflammation, which can help with conditions such as diabetes and fibromyalgia
  • Lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol
  • Higher levels of “good” HDL cholesterol
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Improved self-esteem

Interestingly, engaging in meditation improves the propensity to engage socially, reducing feelings of loneliness. In six studies, meditation decreased loneliness by 22% when it included the practice of self-acceptance.

The Benefits of Mindfulness

Mindfulness in general can also provide a number of healing effects. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), here are some of the benefits of mindfulness:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Increased ability to cope with pain

According to Clinical Psychology Review, the following are more benefits of mindfulness:

  • Increased well-being
  • Reduced psychological symptoms
  • Reduced emotional reactivity
  • Improved emotional regulation
  • Better eating habits (reduced bingeing and emotional eating)

Paying attention to your five senses and practicing acceptance can help you have more joy and appreciation for your experience of life, which translates into better mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

Tips for Meditation and Ways to Practice Mindfulness

Ready to get started practicing meditation and mindfulness? Here are some tips for meditation from the meditation app Headspace:

  • Make note of how you feel before and after you meditate. At times, this can help you see progress, and it enables you to check in with yourself about how you really feel.
  • Get in a comfortable position. You need to find a position that will be comfortable enough not to distract you. So don’t feel like you need to sit cross-legged if that’s not easy for you. 
  • Breathe naturally. While breathing is an anchor to focusing your attention, you don’t have to work on taking deep breaths. Just breathe.
  • Don’t resist your emotions. It’s common for feelings and thoughts to emerge during your meditation. Allow them to come and go. 
  • Don’t judge yourself. You may want to improve your meditation practice but be wary of making judgments about what you aren’t able to achieve. Let your meditation practice be neutral, a place where you can’t make mistakes, regardless of how you might feel on any particular day.

Finally, remind yourself of the benefits of meditation. Even if it seems like a chore some days, you may feel much better when you do it, especially if you know you’re improving both your short-term and long-term health.

Here are some ways to practice mindfulness, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Practice paying attention. The art of “noticing” is all about using your five senses. What do you see, smell, hear, touch, or taste? Noticing will bring you into the present moment.
  • Practice accepting yourself. Do you treat yourself like you would a friend? Be kind to yourself and say things that you would say to someone you love.
  • Focus on the rhythm of your breathing. Just like with meditation, breathe naturally. Observe the movement and feeling of your lungs filling with oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. 

Practice accepting yourself.Do you treat yourself like you would a friend? Be kind to yourself and say things that you would say to someone you love.

You can practice mindfulness anywhere. When you’re outside, focus on feeling the warmth of a ray of sunshine on your skin. Hear the rustle of tree leaves. Wiggle your toes in your shoes. Be open to the sensations of the present moment and let them ground you.

Meditation and Mindfulness in Treatment

At The Meadows Outpatient Center, we incorporate meditation and mindfulness into our treatment program so you can experience their benefits on your journey to healing from addiction and mental health issues. We help you begin your practice so that you can continue to improve your well-being and emotional regulation skills as you reintegrate back into your daily life. Our program is designed to treat the whole person so that you have the best opportunity to sustain a fulfilling life in recovery. Contact us today to learn more.


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