Meditation has long been associated with the spiritual and religious practice of Eastern traditions. Though, as an understanding of mental health is becoming more holistic in nature, meditation is becoming more and more prominent in contemporary Western traditions.
There has been much research showing the benefits of meditation on physical health, with specific practical uses of meditation being used to neutralize stress and anxiety, alleviate pain, and improve physical health and wellness.
Meditation functions by increasing people’s capability for mindfulness and concentration, leading to a more open, flexible, and peaceful outlook of life and way of living. It offers skill building and insight into how we think and feel and provides a conscious practice to develop positive states of mind and more moments of serenity.
Mediation in general has far reaching benefits in many domains of life such as: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Meditation practice can:
- Decrease stress
- Improve immune system functioning
- Enhance creativity
- Improve attention and concentration
- Improve interpersonal relationships
- Increase happiness and positive affect
- Lead to more optimistic outlook
- Increase compassion for self and others
An even more exciting aspect of meditation is the recent psychological research that is beginning to examine how it can be an effective practice to increase positive emotional states and lead to greater flourishing and thriving.
There are many different forms of meditation and many different ways to practice and develop greater emotional wellness, but one specific method of meditation that has been researched in relation to positive emotions is loving-kindness meditation.
Loving-kindness meditation is a process of cultivating compassion and love for yourself and others, and provides a remedy for emotional states such as fear, pity, and resentment.
Research has revealed the practice of loving-kindness meditation has led to shifts in people’s daily experiences of a wide range of positive emotions, including love, joy, gratitude, contentment, hope, pride, interest, amusement, and awe.
There are a few levels where you can begin to spread loving-kindness:
- A loved one
- A good friend
- A neutral person
- A person whom you have experienced difficulty with
First, concentrate on offering love and compassion to yourself. Realize that you are naturally perfect and whole in God’s eyes. Once you are able to do this, and are feeling full of love and peace, transfer your focus to someone else in your life who has offered you great kindness and who you really care about. Eventually, work to give love and kindness to someone who you don’t have much feeling for, and ultimately to someone whom you typically feel negative toward.
As a result you will begin to experience more positive emotional states and can learn to take this state of mind into everyday life.
The emotional benefits of mediation won’t appear immediately, but practicing meditation consistently for a few weeks will lead to building greater emotional, social, and intellectual resources. Start to incorporate meditation practice into your life once a day for a few weeks and you will begin to experience real change in your outlook and attitude toward life.
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