Women meditating with her legs crossed

The Benefits of Meditation

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21 February 2023

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Look at the experience of learning The Benefits of Meditation as something you get better at slowly. Over time, you will get better at it – if you keep practising. You cannot just click your fingers and be good at it. It is like building muscle, learning the piano, or becoming an artist. It takes commitment and practice, over time, to become good at anything.

If you do commit to learning meditation to tap into a more zen state, then you will reap the benefits. Others will too. If you are in a calmer state, then this has a ripple effect on others around you including your family, friends, and work colleagues. The opposite effect can happen too, i.e. if you are stressed, then others will feel more stress around you. So you can have a powerful impact with your presence.

Meditation has become popular over recent years. It is embraced by a list of celebrities raving about the benefits of this discipline in their lives. 

Advocates include Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington and Miley Cyrus, to name some.

Cyrus was quoted in ELLE U.S. magazine in 2019 as saying: “I try to meditate the night before interviews on what my goal is, what I want this to say about me”.

Speaking of another global musician. The online Yoga Journal quoted a yoga and meditation teacher commentating on Rihanna’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl LVII as being very yoga-like. Meditation is a part of yoga.

Some other commentators wished she had danced more or moved more on stage.

But rest coach, mother, wife and obvious Rihanna fan, Octavia Raheem noted in The Yoga Journal: “She looked so comfortable in her own skin that I felt that same way looking at her. She just seemed alright with herself. Very authentic.”

And that moment where Rihanna sat down? Raheem said, “I was like, ‘Wow. I am here for this’.”

The slow, considered movement is seen as a mindfulness approach. Rather than dancing fast and furious on stage, her movements were more considered and with an impact of empowered presence.

Rhihanna at Superbowl 2023

There are many different styles of meditation. You can try a few and find one you like. 

Some types of meditation include: Spiritual meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, loving kindness meditation, visualisation meditation, transcendental meditation (which quietens the mind through mantras), mindfulness meditation, to body scan meditations (where you focus on different parts of your body for tension and try to mindfully relax these areas as you breathe slowly and deeply).  

Yoga and Mindfulness facilitator Nicola Gill, runs retreats in the South Island.

She does different styles of meditation – depending on the audience she is working with. For example, her yoga students may get to experience visualisation practices to more deeper, spiritual-style meditations.

Women standing in front of flax tree.
Nicola Gill

But when Gill teaches mindfulness in work places in Nelson, it is more corporate focused, not spiritually-focused, meditation work.

“I tell people they don’t have to be cross-legged. You can be sitting in a chair at work and mindfully having a few moments to centre yourself, and breathe… This can bring clarity and focus in the workplace so you can concentrate on the next task at hand”.

The benefits of meditation are many, says meditation teacher Helena Keenan, who co-leads the Mindful Moments Retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa. This weekend-long retreat on the lake edge of Rotorua offers a focus on teaching de-stress skills. So things like mindfulness meditation, yoga, breath work, and a luxury massage. Attendees spend time in nature in the Redwoods Forest, and attend a wellness workshop too.

Keenan explaining The Benefits of Meditation at Polynesian spa
Keenan is pictured above on the right in the yoga and meditation room at the Polynesian Spa complex. 

Disclaimer: This writer works alongside Keenan as a yoga and meditation teacher and wellness facilitator, helping to co-lead the Mindful Moments Retreats. I’ve been teaching meditation for a decade, but I love telling students that this took a long time to “get”. When I started, I used to struggle to sit still and be adrift constantly with a busy mind. So, if I can master learning to live life more mindfully, present and calmer with mindful meditation, then anyone can!

Keenan has 11 years’ meditation teaching under her belt and a list of qualifications and work experience in this field in New Zealand and Australia. The Mindful Moments Retreat attracts all kinds of attendees from lawyers and nurses, CEOs to judges and even mums and daughters to couples. Anyone of any gender can attend.

Keenan specialises in mindfulness meditation. 

Mindfulness is all about developing awareness and paying attention to our thoughts and how our body feels in the present – with non-judgment. Keenan says the non-judgment part is especially hard for clients as we all often have judgmental thoughts that we need to learn to tame.

8 Benefits of Meditation

  1. Improves focus.

You learn how to pause, be still and have more clarity in how you can focus on everything going on in your life.

  1. Improves your breathing.

You learn breathing techniques and patterns that help you to breathe well (i.e. deeper, slower, belly breathing) and harness more calm. Keenan says mindfulness meditation even improves how she now experiences her life with asthma. She now breathes better and with more ease.

  1. Increases sleep quality.

            If you feel calmer than your cortisol levels can be managed better and it is easier to fall asleep more deeply and stay asleep.

  1. Elevates your awareness, which helps you to pay better attention to others.

It is only when you become aware of how you are that you can choose how to respond differently.

  1. Helps you to be more present and become a better listener.

When you are more present with people, your listening improves and you can distil your thoughts better and respond more intentionally and skillfully.

  1. Creates new neurological pathways and helps to rewire your brain.

If you practise meditation regularly this can have an impact on your brain pathways and ultimately how you think and feel and process information.

  1. Lowers your blood pressure.

Meditation increases the amount of nitric oxide in your body which can widen blood vessels and make it easier for blood to flow when your heart pumps. Keenan recommends 12 minutes’ meditation daily, or at least five days weekly. However, even a few moments’ meditation can see you reap some benefits of this practice.

  1. Helps you to become more heart-centred and increases your intuition.

Your heart has its own “nervous system” and your brain takes a lot of direction from your heart, explains Keenan.

Related article: Meditation for beginners: How To Do a Candle Gazing Meditation

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