How meditation helps you let go

In the last few years, especially physicians have become interested in what meditation can achieve. The results are impressive…

Have you ever meditated before? Nope, it’s just kind of exotic for monks, yogis and esoterics? Oh, come on, that’s not true anymore. Because meanwhile there are not only the millennia-old meditation methods, which serve mainly the search for meaning and self-knowledge. There are also those that are practiced primarily for health reasons. And these are becoming more and more popular. “In the USA meditation is already offered at schools,” says Dr.

Ulrich Ott from the University of Gießen, who is investigating the effect of meditation on the brain in more detail. So in America it has long been part of everyday life: “Managers do it just as much as housewives and students.

This stress test shows how you deal with stress

The fact that so many people are meditating today is due, among other things, to US -American professor of medicine, Jon Kabat-Zinn. He freed meditation from the esoteric image of incense sticks in the late 1970s and developed a strictly standardized 8-week meditation program to reduce stress.

The effects of the so-called mindfulness training have now been thoroughly investigated and have been found to be good by researchers. “In the last 10 years more scientific papers have been published on the subject than in the entire 40 years before”, says Ott. “In these 5 situations meditation has proven to be extremely effective:

1. meditating helps against stress

Blood pressure rises, the heart beats, and the hands become damp: stress arises when it is not possible to build up a distance between oneself and the demands of everyday life. And this is exactly where meditation or the MBSR -training (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). A course with weekly meetings includes guided meditations, yoga sequences and exercises that are done every day at home.

With Yin & Yang Yoga to inner balance

It is also important to be mindful of everyday things, such as chewing, tasting or smelling consciously. The whole thing is a kind of counter-design to the multitasking that hectic everyday life now so often demands of us. The aim of meditation is to learn to bring attention back to the present moment again and again.

Body sensations, thoughts, feelings, which you perceive in the process, you do not evaluate, but simply accept them by meeting them with interested attention. Only when you are aware (i.e. attentive) to your thoughts and feelings, can you build up distance to them. Once you realize that it is just a thought, you will quickly realize how relaxing it is and how much less disturbing it is. In this way you can cope better with hectic everyday life and stressful situations.

This effect is now well documented, for example by a study by the Università di Bologna: according to this study MBSR Reduce stress as well as the proven standard relaxation methods (such as autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation). An additional benefit: The meditation participants were not only more relaxed, but also less anxious and brooding than the control group.

2. meditation can relieve pain

Jon Kabat-Zinn had pain patients in mind when he MBSR developed. Not the kind that takes an occasional pill. “They were hopeless cases, chronic pain patients where even strong medication was no longer sufficient,” says Ott.

Because pain also triggers stress, and it has been proven that pain decreases in people who can deal with it differently thanks to meditation. What works for the very sick, of course, also works for the less sick: “In principle, everyone who has pain benefits from it,” explains Ott.

Meditation is especially beneficial for joint and back problems: An examination of the US -According to Drexel University in Philadelphia, patients with chronic arthritis after the 8-week course not only have significantly less pain and are noticeably more mobile, but their overall quality of life is also better. Another study was devoted to patients with back pain who had already undergone surgery. MBSR less pain medication than the control group and were significantly more mobile. 

3. meditation helps with sleep problems

Those who are less stressed also sleep better – so far, so obvious. How much, a study by the University of Minnesota shows. According to it, the MBSR -course is as good against insomnia as taking a sleeping pill every night for 8 weeks. And that’s not all: too MBSR also includes the so-called Bodyscan, a meditation in which the body is systematically scanned from head to toe. The sensations in each individual area are explored without wanting to change them.

Although the actual purpose of the bodyscan is to train mindfulness, it helps very well to fall asleep. Because usually after about 20 minutes there is a deep relaxation reaction in which all physical processes controlled by the vegetative nervous system calm down: Blood pressure drops, muscles relax, heart and breathing rhythm become more harmonious and calmer. The body scan can therefore serve as a means of falling asleep, even if you do not meditate regularly during the day.

Feel it: Our guided Bodyscan Meditation

4. meditation can also help with eating disorders

Already at the end of the 90s the US -American psychologist Jean Kristeller from Indiana State University first studies on her program MB-EAT (Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training), which she had tested on patients who swallowed uncontrolled amounts of food. With great success: Within only 7 weeks, in which the patients met once a week for meditation, lectures and exercises, the number of overeating attacks was reduced from 4 to 1.5 per week.

It is basically obvious that mindfulness training helps with eating problems: On the one hand, it directs the concentration to the food itself. Because if you chew thoroughly and consciously perceive how a food feels and tastes, it is easier to feel full. On the other hand, mindfulness meditation also helps you to better perceive your own feelings and needs. And if this is successful, less frustration must be compensated by eating (or not eating).

An Australian study last year showed that anorexic people also benefit comparably from meditation: Their desire to be thin was significantly reduced by a 10-week mindfulness training.

5. meditation is effective against depression and anxiety

For all those who have ever experienced a depression or want to let go and overcome fears through meditation, we can MBSR …I’m just suggesting. It may also be… MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), a program introduced at the beginning of the new millennium, which was developed for formerly depressed people. The problem is that they often relapse – and this can MBCT prevent.

How you learn to love yourself

The so-called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy provides information on the topic of depression in addition to mindfulness training and contains exercises from behavioral therapy. The idea is that the patients recognize their depression-promoting thoughts, fears and behavioral patterns, observe and accept them without fear or evaluation. Sounds banal, but it works reliably: According to studies, the risk of relapse is reduced by half in people with 3 or more depressive episodes.

And that should convince even the last doubters.

Now, get on the meditation pillow.

Regular meditation is worthwhile for just about everyone. One thing is for sure, though: As soon as you try to sit very still and just concentrate on your breath for the first time, you will realize how many thoughts are going through your head and how difficult it is to leave out the to-do list, the conversation with your girlfriend and the trouble at work.

During a 30-minute meditation, for example, it is completely normal at the beginning that you have to consciously return to the breath well over 100 times, because your thoughts have wandered off again. Don’t be discouraged, it is all just a matter of practice. The longer you meditate, the sooner you will be rewarded with a special, very beneficial state: very clear, wide awake awareness and deepest relaxation are possible at the same time.

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