10 Best Psychology Today Articles on Meditation (2024 Top Picks)

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Psychology Today is the world’s largest mental health and behavioral science destination online.

It is the original and largest publishing enterprise that is exclusively dedicated to human behavior.

Its motto is “Here to Help,” and the resources you will access are the worldwide destination of choice for expert*-authored information about psychology and mental health. That’s why I’m offering you a selection of 10 best Psychology Today articles on meditation, along with my favorite quotes.

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1. Why Practice Meditation?

Meditation is to the mind what aerobic exercise is to the body. Like exercise, there are many good ways to do it, and you can find the one that suits you best. Studies have shown that regular meditation promotes mindfulness (sustained observing awareness), whose benefits include decreased stress-related cortisol, insomnia, symptoms of autoimmune illnesses, premenstrual syndrome, asthma, falling back into depression, general emotional distress, anxiety, and panic, and increased immune system factors, control of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, detachment from reactions, self-understanding, and general well-being.

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2. Why Is It So Hard to Meditate?

Mindfulness and meditation have been much talked about and studied concepts in the Western world for several decades now. There has been fascinating research on the multifaceted benefits of meditating—from helping people cope with chronic pain and illness to helping individuals manage anxiety or depression and improve focus, attention, and efficiency (among many more benefits).

[…]

So here comes the conundrum. We know it’s good for us. Science corroborates. We may have even felt the benefit of meditating in our own lives (I know I have in a very big way). Why, then, aren’t more of us meditating regularly? Why do we find it so hard and what can we do to address those barriers?

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3. Five Meditation Tips for Beginners

You’ve no doubt heard that meditation is good for you. It can help you feel calmer and has a host of other benefits. However, for many people, descriptions of meditation aren’t appealing, and it sounds like just another thing you don’t have time to do. Here are five meditation tips for beginners that will help overcome the dual problems of lack of appeal, and it seeming too daunting.

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4. How Does Meditation Reduce Anxiety at a Neural Level?

In recent years there has been a steady stream of research showing the power of mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety. Until now, the specific brain mechanisms of how meditation relieves anxiety at a neural level were unknown.

On June 3, 2013 researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published a study titled “Neural Correlates of Mindfulness Meditation-Related Anxiety Relief” in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience which identifies brain regions activated by mindfulness meditation. Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate your emotional responses to perceived threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions.

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5. How Meditation Can Sharpen the ADHD Brain

Meditation cultivates attentional control, bolsters mood and decreases anxiety. A hallmark of the ADHD is the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain that is active when you’re not fully engaged in the present moment. This is because those with ADHD have trouble being here, now. Meditation is one of the best tools to cultivate such present-moment awareness.

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6. Can Mindfulness Meditation Effectively Reduce Back Pain?

Chronic pain is a leading neurological complaint. Chronic low back pain is the most common pain condition and a leading cause of disability and the impairment of many activities of daily living. Low back pain is often made worse by common movements such as bending over or doing even gentle exercises.

Currently, there are no known treatments that can be administered to immediately alleviate movement-evoked chronic back pain. A recent study investigated the potential effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on chronic low back pain.

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7. Five Unexpected Ways Meditation Improves Relationships, a Lot

Relationships are key to life. We long for and need positive social connections, yet at the same time relationships can be sources of great pain, stress, and even bewilderment. What is the secret to good relationships? How can we keep love alive? How can we sustain affection over time?

Our research and that of our colleagues suggest that meditation may be the key. How can something you do all by yourself improve your relationships? In many ways: By filling your cup through this profound act of self-care, it ends up overflowing and deeply benefitting those you love the most.

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8. What’s the Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation?

Both hypnosis and meditation involve changing the mindset. However, the path to achieving this change is different. Hypnosis can be defined as a state of focused attention in which people can be more responsive to suggestion.

Meditation can be defined as the use of a technique to train attention and awareness with the purpose of achieving mental clarity, calm, and stability. There are many forms of meditation including mindfulness, loving-kindness, and mantra meditation.

Thus, if hypnosis is used for the purpose of achieving mental clarity and calm, there is a clear overlap between the two forms of mind-training.

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9. How Psychedelics and Meditation Both Promote Healing

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy (PAP) and meditation have been repeatedly shown to be effective treatments for a broad range of maladies. They can also improve the lives of those who don’t have significant medical or psychological problems.

On the surface, these two things seem completely different. Taking a powerful, mind-altering drug seems to be the polar opposite of sitting calmly with eyes closed. Is there some fundamental similarity in how they help promote healing? And if so, is that fundamental similarity telling us something important about the human psyche?

I argue that both PAP and meditation induce the experience of transcendence—transcending space, time, and ego—which, I posit, is the cause of their therapeutic effect.

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10. Transform Your Sleep Routine with Meditation

When you are unable to fall asleep, your head might be on the pillow, but your mind is likely somewhere else entirely. Maybe you’re still attempting to solve a stressful problem, rehashing a conflict from earlier in your day, or imagining some future scenario.

Such mental chatter activates networks in your brain, setting off a cascade of responses in your nervous system. The net result? The current of thoughts flowing through your mind leads to a stress response in your body, which disrupts your ability to let go and rest.

Studies show that mindfulness, one of the most widely-studied forms of meditation, can shift this dynamic and positively impact the quality of our sleep. In practicing mindfulness, we teach the mind to switch from dwelling on the past and projecting into the future to focus on the here and now. At bedtime, this skill is invaluable.

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Complelemt this list of best meditation articles from Psychology Today with Buddhist Meditation: Tranquility, Imagination, and Insight by Kamalashila and then revisit Psychology Today artciles on mindfulness. and why you should read Mindful America by Jeff Wilson.

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