Meditation has been around for centuries and has been used by yogis, monks, spiritual teachers and more. In the United States, meditation has become increasingly popular over the past decade, as we’ve been discovering just how powerful this practice can be. There are some instances, however, when meditation is challenging; even the most well-practiced people may find themselves squirming in their seats, with thoughts racing back and forth and a seemingly uncontrollable ability to gently guide the mind back to the breath. When anger or fear is involved – mind you, two very real, very intense emotions – meditation can feel like the last option on the list of resolutions. Don’t overlook this practice so easily, however, because it brings more benefits than you may think.
In 2015, researchers from India published in the Online Journal of Multidisciplinary Research identified four stages of meditation that can dissipate the intensity of anger:
Stage 1: Physical relaxation
Stage 2: Independent mindfulness meditation
Stage 3: Guided meditation calling on inner voice
Stage 4: Connecting with inner voice
The authors note that mindfulness meditation helps us observe our thoughts non judgmentally. If we can connect with our inner voice, that inner guidance, that is telling us to simply view our thoughts with curiosity and nothing else, we take away their power. When we take away the intense meaning that we’ve attached to thoughts, the thoughts themselves become much less powerful. With time and practice, we can choose which thoughts are worth giving meaning to – and which ones we should consider “fluff”.
Alongside anger and fear come depression and anxiety, but meditation is a holistic practice that can ease many of these symptoms if practiced with dedication. A Croatian conference paper titled “Observing the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Meditation on Anxiety and Depression in Chronic Pain Patients” assessed quality of life for participants with anxiety and depression. For 8 weeks, three days a week for one hour, individuals were assessed on depression, anxiety, pain and global impression of change. The researchers found that even a year later, participants showed noticeable improvements in all of the issues listed – meditation isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a long term, viable practice that could completely change your life.
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