The Importance of Meditation from a Psychological Perspective
Can meditation for mental health be included in psychological treatments? Absolutely!
My Meditation Journey (so far…)
As a psychologist, I have many tools for relaxation, de-stressing, unwinding, whatever you would like to call it. As a human being, I have a great need for these tools and I use them frequently.
I used to think I was pretty well sorted when it came to de-fragging at the end of a day. However, I began to notice more and more highly effective people mentioning their practice of meditation.
I Didn’t Think I “Needed” To Meditate
Still, until quite recently I didn’t think that regular meditation was something that I needed to do – it was for people less calm than me, or those with poor boundaries (read: unable to say “no”), for people who couldn’t manage.
It’s an arrogant approach I had, and it’s embarrassing to admit it to you all, but there it is.
The Neurological Impact of Meditation
Anyway, this meditation thing kept coming up recently.
I was watching a webinar by an esteemed psychologist in the US and he was talking about the changes in our brain waves when we meditate. He said that these changes last for weeks, even after one 15-minute meditation!
Well, I thought that was pretty impressive, but I still didn’t really think I needed it.
Meditation for Mental Health
Finally, a beauty therapist friend was talking about her recent completion of a meditation course every time I saw her. It was clearly working well for her, but still, I had great ways of relaxing… Until one day she mentioned that when you learn to meditate you are told to just let the thoughts be there – not fight them, or bat them away, but let whatever comes, come.
Well, I thought, this is quite similar to a therapy I use regularly with clients (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – ACT), and so maybe I should investigate this further. It might be useful for me to be able to tell clients about it. I STILL DIDN’T THINK I NEEDED IT!
My friend sent me a link to the website of the person who taught her to meditate and I signed up, ready to start ASAP! Why not do it now, I thought? It will be great for my work.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
I went along, with professional curiosity – how can this help my clients?
I did the first meditation with my teacher. It was nice. It was new. I slept like a baby after it.
I have had a thyroid issue for some years and haven’t regularly slept through the night for about 6 years, but after that first meditation I had a sleep like I used to have – a proper, deep, restorative sleep.
Well, that is nice, I thought. I still didn’t think I needed to learn to meditate – I was there for my clients.
Mental Health Benefits of Meditation
I continued with the course, and I continued to sleep and feel an amazing return of energy to my days.
I felt clear-headed, focused, and calm.
I finally admitted that maybe I did need to learn to meditate and was so glad I had done it!
Since then (this was a few months ago), I have continued with 20-minute meditations twice a day (well, most days…).
I do not get overwhelmed, I do not take things personally, I don’t worry about what others will do or say, I just feel this sense of peace inside.
I haven’t lost any of my drive (in fact, it has increased and is more focused), I have gained back the sleep that is so important for our physical and psychological wellbeing.
I am stronger when I do Pilates – I have managed to break through some physical plateaus that I was previously frustrated by.
Small Investment for Big Returns – Meditation is Just So Good!
In short, I have gained more than I ever imagined from a small investment of time.
The longer I practise, the stronger my commitment. I find myself wanting to know more and more about meditation and its effects on our psychological wellbeing. I will keep you posted on that.
So, I went from from professional curiosity to an absolute believer in a few short days. I am like a religious zealot and have to remind myself not to overwhelm others with my enthusiasm – they will each get there when they get there, much like I did (eventually).
I hope that my inner calm becomes apparent to those closest to me – that they also reap the benefits of that sense of peace I hold within and one day decide to try it for themselves.
In the meantime, I will continue on this path and let you know what else I find along the way.