What is the Purpose of Meditation?
July 05, 2022
There’s a lot of research out there on the effects of meditation. Frankly, it’s pretty incredible. Focused meditation can do wonders for the brain and body. So, how can we use it for our own holistic care, does it deserve a place in your daily schedule, and what is the purpose of meditation?
What Does It Mean to Meditate?
To answer this question, let’s first look at what meditation isn’t. We’re all familiar with the image of a monk sitting tall in total reverie somewhere in a cave for hours at a time. Of course, meditation is not reserved for the religiously or even spiritually inclined. Much like exercise, the act of meditation can have pronounced effects on the brain and body — effects that many (if not most) of us could benefit from.
So, outside of a specific religious or spiritual context, what is meditation? It’s a mind/body connection exercise similar to yoga in some ways. This means that anyone from any background should feel confident approaching the practice of meditation.
What Is the Purpose of Meditation?
We’ve established that the benefits of meditation aren’t tethered to any one ideology. So, why do people meditate exactly? What is it that everyone seems to be getting out of this practice?
Mayo Clinic points to stress reduction as a big one, but it also lists a variety of other pretty significant perks that meditation can bring. These include self-awareness, presence (less future tripping and/or getting stuck in the past), lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, better sleep, a boost in creativity, and honestly… a whole lot more. The list goes on.
One fairly radical idea that may motivate many and be of interest to others is the concept of “non-striving” in meditation. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD explains in the video below, the act of mindfulness can help us detach from thinking so much about the future or the past. Instead we learn to accept the present moment without trying to change it. This is more difficult than one might think, but it’s an extremely powerful mindset to cultivate.
So, to sum up, Jon Kabat-Zinn might respond to our question “What is the purpose of meditation?” by saying ‘To tap into where we are and stay there.’
No small task!
Others come to meditation with more of a concrete agenda in mind. This is also a reasonable approach. For many, the effects of clinical depression defy medication, talk therapy, or other conventional treatments. But Researchers at Harvard are interested in the applications that meditation may have for addressing treatment-resistant depression.
So, if our 4 Treatment Hacks For Seasonal Affective Disorder aren’t doing the trick for your winter-time blues, meditation might. It’s certainly worth a shot.
Why do people meditate? For many, it’s a means of coming to terms with anxieties. As we touched on above, stress reduction is a big benefit of meditating. It is often the goal when folks first turn to meditation. At the very least, lowering stress levels tends to be a part of the draw for many folks. If anxiety and worry are taking up too much of your headspace, meditation may offer some relief. As discussed above, developing a meditation routine is a well-supported technique for loosening the hold that daily stressors have on so many of us.
How Do Neuroplasticity and Meditation Relate?
Neuroplasticity is an absolutely fascinating concept, and it is yet another massive benefit of meditating. Neuroplasticity is a brain’s ability to change, and it has been shown that meditation helps activate it.
Take a look at this!
Should I Start Meditating?
Thinking about your purpose for meditation may be a good place to start when deciding if you want to incorporate it into your wellness routine. Evidence supports meditation for a variety of purposes, so chances are good that it may be a good fit for yours!