Meditation has many positive side effects, but the most popular ones associated with it are increased awareness, compassion, calm and focus. “The idea of meditation is to bring the frazzle of the mind to a standstill. The aim is to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for restoration and rejuvenation,” shares dance healer Sumisha Shankar. This method allows the mind to settle, which drops the metabolic rate and stress hormone levels. There’s also an added increase in oxygen and blood blow to the brain involved in decision-making (the prefrontal cortex) and a rise in alpha brain waves which are associated with relaxation.
While sitting down to be mindful and focus on your breath are great ways to get there, if you’re a newbie (or looking for a specific type of meditation), guided meditations could be ideal for you to try since they have a structure. They may instruct you to breathe or relax your body in a certain way, or visualise images or sounds to reach that brain space. Want to try one that works exactly for what you’re feeling? Scroll through for more.
1. If you need a meditation to help you focus
While you might connect meditation to feeling calm and putting you to sleep, a targeted breathwork practice can help improve focus and concentration. Research has shown that breathing affects the levels of noradrenaline, which is the neurotransmitter affiliated with enthusiasm and curiosity.
2. If you need a breathwork practice to help you sleep
Meditation may increase melatonin (which is the sleep hormone) and serotonin (the happy hormone) and reduce the heart rate and decrease blood pressure. If you have insomnia or experience disturbed sleep, meditation has been shown to improve the quality of your nighttime rest, help you fall asleep faster, and help you stay alert during the waking hours. Guided sleep hypnosis contains spoken suggestions to promote relaxation, as well as a soothing soundscape of gentle music.
3. If you’re looking for a meditation to improve positivity
Meditating on self-love gives you permission to get vulnerable, so you can focus on brighter, happier thoughts once you work through the painful or scary ones. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can improve mood, and the process of breathing can reduce cortisol, which is the main stress hormone.
4. If you need breathwork to reduce anxiety
Anxiety can worsen when you feel stressed, angry or overwhelmed. Research shows that meditation is able to reprogram pathways in the brain, to help manage the way we respond to stimuli. While meditation helps to focus, see and let go of thoughts, the physical aspect can be a tangible helping method when anxiety hits. Awareness of the body can help ground you, which can calm you down.
5. If you’re looking for a meditation to work through anger
If your emotions are heightened, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by them. Meditation that focuses on seeing and letting go of thoughts can help improve reactions to them, which is the purpose of this guided practice.
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