Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start works with clients who suffer from mental health problems, many of whom have sought various treatments for their afflictions unsuccessfully. In the following article, Thomas Cothren of New York explains how habitual meditation practices promotes an overall sense of calm and well-being, partly by improving the individual’s physical health.
Meditation entails the practice of developing mindfulness through focused breathing and blocking out intrusive thoughts. Thomas Cothren of New York explains that while meditation takes several forms, one basic truth underlies almost all of them: meditation improves mental health in numerous ways.
Not only can brief meditation practices allow for fast and easy stress management, but regular meditation can also help alleviate ongoing struggles with negative emotions such as anxiety and depression.
This almost sounds too good to be true. However, Thomas Cothren of New York says that the extensive mental health benefits of meditation become much more believable when examining them individually.
Thomas Cothren on Meditation and Stress Management
Stress can pop up anywhere, even without a rational cause. However, Thomas Cothren of New York explains that sometimes stress affects people even worse when the cause is immediately present. For instance, a person who typically excels at their job may stumble and make rookie mistakes when the workload piles up.
Unfortunately, Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start says that many react to this stress by attempting to work in haste. In reality, those dealing with life’s pressures will find themselves much more efficient at handling it when they take a second to slow down and reset. Luckily, meditation can be practiced anywhere. Pausing for a few minutes of mindful breathing can relieve stress in numerous ways, such as:
- Instilling a sense of patience in the midst of frustrating circumstances
- Bringing the practitioner back to the present moment when worry takes over
- Allowing the individual to reassess their stress from a new perspective
- Lowering the heart rate, which often increases when stressed
In short, Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start says that meditation quiets the mind at a time when chaos clouds the brain and prevents it from seeing that present circumstances are far more manageable than they appear. While the short-term benefits of such a practice may seem readily apparent, frequent meditation offers many long-term mental health benefits as well.
Relieving Negative Emotions with Meditation
Many assume that mental health problems only affect those with specific disorders, such as PTSD or generalized anxiety. However, Thomas Cothren of Fresh Start says that countless individuals suffer daily from simple afflictions such as impatience, resentment and aggressive behaviors. The more a person meditates, the easier it becomes to keep these negative emotions at bay.
Thomas Cothren of New York explains that numerous studies show that meditation alleviates anger associated with resentment. Participants in one study meditated for just 20 minutes per day and began seeing results when asked to relive an experience with someone they despised. Since resentment rarely goes away overnight, regular meditation practice proves beneficial when dealing with such pent-up animosity.
Regarding fear, over a dozen studies demonstrate the power of meditation by analyzing its benefits on those suffering from cancer. Thomas Cothren of New York explains that patients with an understandable fear of their imminent transition to the great beyond often prove much calmer and more at peace with their fate when practicing meditation on a regular basis.
Given meditation’s benefits for those with such a rational source of fear, it should come as no surprise that similar studies showed remarkable improvement in those suffering from various mental and emotional disorders relating to depression and anxiety. No matter what the negative emotion, it appears abundantly clear that meditation can help.
The Link Between Physical and Mental Health
The far-reaching mental health benefits actually take root as much in the body as in the mind. Negative emotions often cause various physical stimuli. By calming these physical responses, meditation practitioners find they can often quiet the emotions themselves. To this end, meditation offers several physical health benefits, including:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Lower heart rate
- Temporary pain relief
- Improved sleep quality
- Relaxed breathing rate
For this reason, many suggest meditation for those suffering from chronic physical and mental conditions such as asthma, insomnia, tension headaches, weight disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, substance use disorder, ADHD and more.
In a sense, this is no different from the general concept that those who exercise regularly tend to feel happier and more fulfilled. As the body heals, so does the mind. Working out takes time and effort, but meditation can be picked up and practiced by anyone at any time. This makes it one of the most vital mental health tools in anyone’s arsenal.
Meditation sounds difficult to some. They assume that if they can’t fully block out every idle thought, that means they have somehow failed. It does not. As long as a person does their best for at least a few minutes a day, they should find their mental health improving vastly over time.