Our world is full of stress, and we are constantly bombarded with bad news, injuries, and illnesses. Chronic pain can be especially stressful. So finding ways to release and cope with pain and stress help people live longer, happier lives.
Understanding Meditation and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an umbrella term that encompasses meditation. According to mindful.org, mindfulness is “fully attending to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, to the space you’re moving through.”
Negative patterns of repetitive thoughts, mind flurry or chatter, and list, craving, or fear spirals can gently fall away without judgment when using the anchor of mindful breathing and body scan to release areas that hold tension and stress. Some people use mantras to help guide and focus their attention on the present moment. The practice of walking meditation creates an entire focus of awareness on the feet being in contact with the earth for grounding properties. Trying new meditation techniques enhances the breadth of mindfulness in life and promotes general wellness.
Meditation refers to a formal practice of calming the mind and enhancing our self-awareness. Meditation practices may include mindfulness of breathing and compassion-focus via phrases or mantras, among other techniques. Common meditative practices include yoga, Tai chi, guided meditation, and more.
Long-term and consistent meditation practices bring about positive structural and functional brain changes. You can choose the type of meditation that best fits your lifestyle and situation. Many people start with guided meditation apps.
Meditation in Western Medicine
The Mayo Clinic details the benefits of meditation for managing pain, cancer, sleep and bowel dysfunction, depression, and more. In fact, many Western doctors are now recommending meditation and relaxation strategies as part of their comprehensive plan for patients suffering from various ailments. Unlike many therapies like surgery and medication, meditation is accessible, low-cost, and does not have unpleasant side effects.
Research shows that long-term, consistent meditative practices modify our brains’ plasticity for the better, changing the brain areas concerned with stress and anxiety and promoting inflammation regulation. The amygdala will begin to show a decrease in activity consistent with an improvement in emotional regulation. The prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, and hippocampus all show an increase in activity.
Chronic pain, illness, and everyday life put us at risk for significant stress. The effects of stress are lasting and profound. Incorporating meditative practices into your life can help you overcome mental distress and promote better physical health. You are never too young or too old to start enjoying the benefits of meditation.
You or a loved one may be experiencing stress related to chronic or long-term illness and looking for alternatives to increase your happiness and well-being. If you are struggling for the right level of care for in-home or nursing home facility services, an elder law attorney can help. Elder law services encompass both health and financial challenges that happen as people age and need more care and support for everyday activities. For assistance, please contact our Wichita office at 316-830-5603.