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Meditation is a practice you may have been hearing a lot about in recent years, especially in the light of the overwhelming news we’ve had to live through. Meditation is where we, as individuals use a specific technique to help calm our brainwaves and focus the energy of our mind & body.
If you’ve thought that meditation is just for hippies, think again meditation is for everyone and it has many health benefits.
10 health benefits of meditation that should convince you to give it a try
There are many health benefits and you can often find a range of meditations aimed at specific health concerns. For instance, you can find meditation for anxiety, meditation for weight loss, meditation for health, meditation to lower blood pressure, meditation for mental health and much more.
Help ease stress and anxiety
Many of us go through periods of anxiety, overthinking, depression, and worrying. A 2011 study by researchers at Harvard found that people who meditated for eight weeks had a smaller amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates stress, fear, and anxiety). This would mean that you’re less likely to get stressed, anxious, overthink, depressed or worried if you have some form of meditation practice.
A number of other studies have found that meditation is just as effective as medication in combating depression. When meditators feel anxious, stressed or start to overthink they’re often able to use their practice to rein in some of those thoughts and calm themselves to relieve the stress, anxiety and stop overthinking.
Improve your concentration
Everyone’s mind wanders from time to time, but if you have a solid meditation practice you’re likely to be better at refocusing your thoughts on what’s important. A recent study by researchers at Yale University found that meditating slows down activity in a part of the brain that’s associated with mind wandering. Since meditation frees your mind from having to focus on anything other than your breathing you can then utilise that practice when you really do need to hone in on something specific.
Increase your compassion and kindness
Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard Universities found meditation can actually make you a more compassionate, virtuous person. And no, not by brainwashing either. The study used actors and a scenario that required compassion and it found that those who had participated in meditation sessions were more likely to show come compassion and kindness than those who hadn’t.
In a world that can always use more kindness and compassion who wouldn’t want to increase this in themselves and in the world at large.
Improve heart health by lowering your heart-rate and blood pressure
Several studies have found that people who meditate are able to reduce their blood pressure, but that’s just the beginning. If you have any form of heart health concerns or even know of heart issues in your family why not give meditation a try to help prevent this.
We all know that increased blood pressure can be a result of high stress, so the positive impact meditation has on stress would no doubt roll on for blood pressure as well.
May reduce age-related memory loss
Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young.
Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus your thoughts. In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. Another benefit would be that meditation would help ease the stress of family members caring for other family members with dementia.
Helps with self-awareness and helps you to find your best self
Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.
For example, self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you. Additionally, experience in meditation may cultivate more creative problem-solving skills.
May help you control pain
Meditation might be a natural yet effective alternative to painkillers for reducing chronic pain and its associated distress and depression, according to research from the American Pain Society.
While meditation and exercise both can help reduce pain during movement and boost your quality of life, in the study meditation outshined exercise by maximizing pain relief and the ability to cope with discomfort.
Help improve your sleep
You’ve had those nights. You slide into bed, close your eyes, exhausted, but before you can fall asleep your brain starts buzzing with thoughts of unfinished projects and stressful situations. Or you’ve had many of those nights and suffer from one of the most insufferable sleep disorders: insomnia. Well, before you turn to pills, try meditation. (But of course, you should always talk to your doctor first and foremost.)
Getting your mind to focus on just your breathing during meditation can help calm the thoughts that otherwise may run through your brain and allow you to get to sleep. And once you get into a regular habit of doing a short meditation session before bed you’ll notice your quality of sleep has improved and you can get to sleep much faster.
You may see that you get sick less
We all hate to get sick and we know our partners never look forward to the dreaded “man flu”. Exercise has the benefit of helping to maximise your immune response and minimise how often you get sick but so does meditation.
So when planning out your workout routines why not include some meditation into the mix and then the dual benefits of exercise and meditation to keeping you healthy will be able to work together.
It may help you lose weight
Several studies show that regular meditators are better able to manage emotional or overeating than non-meditators. Meditation increase activity in the areas of the brain that manage self-control which means that it will help you minimise your emotional eating or propensity to overeat. Meditation also appears to be very successful in helping people recover from smoking and other addictions.
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