Meditation is generally considered- a path to increase self-awareness and awareness towards one’s surroundings. Meditation has many health benefits. The main health benefits of meditation involve- physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and spiritual wellbeing. The few other benefits are- positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and better tolerance towards pain. Practicing meditation on regular basis also helps to relieve stress and increases concentration levels. The popularity of meditation is increasing- as more and more people get its benefits to train their minds to focus and redirect their thoughts. Meditation is being practiced for centuries in Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist cultures for the attainment of spiritual benefits.
What are health benefits of meditation?
Meditation can help from- better sleep to improvement in memory. There are many health benefits of meditation.
As per Philippe Goldin- a psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist with the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and meditation practitioner- “It clears and sharpens my mind so I can be kind to myself and useful to others,” Goldin further said. “Most important, it creates a buffer between me and reactivity.”
Following are the 11 health benefits of meditation:
1. Reduces stress
Mental and physical stress can cause- an increase in the levels of stress hormone- cortisol. Prolonged stress levels have harmful effects, like- the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
These may cause sleep disruption, depression, anxiety, increase in blood pressure, fatigue, and reduced ability to think clearly. Prolonged stress levels may also cause health conditions like- irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
As per an 8-week study, It was stated that “mindful meditation” a type of meditation process reduced the inflammation response caused by prolonged stress levels.
Meditation can reduce your stress levels. And may lead to an improvement in the conditions caused due to prolonged stress levels.
2. Controls Anxiety
There is a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both are emotional responses, However, stress is typically caused by an external trigger. Whereas anxiety is persistent, excessive worries that do not go away in the absence of stressors. Anxiety leads to the nearly identical set of symptoms as stress.
A meta-analysis that included nearly 1300 adults found that meditation can decrease anxiety. This effect was strongest in those with the highest levels of anxiety.
It was also found in a study that 8 weeks of mindful meditation helped to reduce anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder along with increasing positive self-statements and improving stress reactivity.
Meditation can also reduce job-related anxiety. As per a study, it was found that employees who practiced mindful meditation for app 8 weeks experienced improved feelings of wellbeing and decreased distress and job strain.
Adopting a regular meditation schedule may help to reduce anxiety and related mental health issues like social anxiety, fears, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
3. Meditation improves emotional health
Meditation can help you to attain an improved self-image and a positive outlook towards life. Meditation can help you to reduce the occurrence of depression. As per a review of treatments given to more than 3500 adults, it was observed that mindful meditation improved symptoms associated with depression.
As a result of stress- the inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are released. Which can affect your mood and may lead to depression. Meditation can help in reducing- the level of these inflammation-causing cytokines. Thus helping in reducing depression- which may lead to many health problems like- heart disease, weight gain or weight loss, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, etc.
4. Meditation- enhances self-awareness
Practicing meditation on regular basis may help you- with a better understanding of yourself. It shows a path to self-growth and imparts a positive feeling towards yourself and towards other living beings and surroundings.
Self-inquiry meditation – a type of meditation, advocated by an Indian guru- Shri Ramana Maharshi, helps you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to others around you.
Meditation helps you to understand your thought process and enables you to recognize thoughts that can be harmful and self-defeating. Meditation helps you cultivate skills that empower you with a problem-solving attitude in life.
5. Increases attention span
Meditation helps you to increase your attention spans. As per a study, it was observed that people who regularly practice meditation- have performed better on visual tasks and had a greater attention span in comparison to those, who do not meditate at all. Regular meditation even for small periods can have a positive impact on your attention span and memory.
6. Meditation- Improves memory
Adopting a habit of meditation on regular basis can help you to enhance your memory and mind clarity. Which helps you to lower the risk of age-related memory loss and dementia. With improvements in attention and an enhanced ability to think clearly, you can keep your mind young.
Kirtan Kriya- a meditation technique used in Kundalini yoga- may stimulate your senses and parts of the brain. In Kirtan Kriya- a focus is made on your thoughts by chanting of mantra with finger movements. Studies have shown- it improves performance on neuropsychological tests in people with age-related memory loss.
Thus meditation in addition to improving normal age-related memory loss. Can also partially improve memory in patients with dementia. Meditation can help to relieve stress and help family members- caring for dementia patients.
7. Meditation- leads to the path of kindness
Meditation enables us to develop positive feelings towards ourselves and others. It generates kindness towards all. By adopting the regular practice of meditation, we learn to be kind towards everyone including our enemies.
There are many types of meditation like- mindful meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, etc.
Metta is a type of Buddhist meditation also called loving-kindness meditation. The goal of metta meditation is to develop kindness for all living beings. It begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings towards yourself. Metta meditation can help to minimize negative emotions towards yourself and others. Which helps you in reducing stress and pain.
8. Mediatation helps in improving sleep
Insomnia or lack of sleep is one of the major health problems being faced by people all over the world. Quality and quantity of sleep play an important role in living a healthy life. Lack of sleep, in the long run, can have a big impact on the physical and mental health of a person.
Meditation can facilitate the body to relax and rejuvenate. It releases mental tension and enables the body to be in a peaceful state- which helps in falling asleep. It improves the quality and quantity of sleep.
As per a study people who practiced mindful meditation on regular basis stayed asleep longer and had an improvement in issues- related to insomnia, in comparison to people who do not meditate.
9. Meditation- helps to control pain
Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that lets us know that something is wrong. The perception of pain is connected to your state of mind. In stressful conditions feeling of pain may get elevated. Research suggests that adopting a regular habit of meditation may help in controlling pain.
As per a review of 38 studies, it was concluded that mindful meditation could reduce pain, improve quality of life, and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain.
As per lifestyle medical expert Jane Ehrman, MEd. “When you are stressed, your body triggers the release of stress hormones, causing inflammation, and increasing pain to your already irritated joints,” Ehrman says, meditation shifts your focus to something quiet and calm, reducing inflammation and pain. She further says, when you get into a quieter state of mind through meditation, your body is not releasing stress hormones into your system.
10. Meditation can help in reducing high blood pressure.
High blood pressure (hypertension) makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which may result in poor heart function. High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries, which may lead to heart attack or stroke.
Transcendental Meditation- sitting comfortably and closing the eyes for 20 minutes, two times per day- enables the mind and body to achieve a quality of rest. As per a new study, the meditation technique stimulates genes- that produce an enzyme called- telomerase, which is linked with decreased blood pressure and mortality.
Adopting regular meditation practices decreases blood pressure. Thus decreasing strain on the heart and arteries- reducing the risk of heart disease.
11. Meditation can help to beat addiction
Meditation can help you beat addiction, by enabling you to develop mental discipline. It can help counter dependencies on addictive products, by increasing self-control and awareness of triggers.
If a person is using addictive products regularly. Some changes leading to addiction occur in the brain. To rewind, the brain, it is needed to undergo some treatment process, that will heal both body and mind. But addiction triggers will persist. Meditation may help you to stop reacting to triggers.
As per a study in 60 people getting treatment for alcohol use disorder. It was found that practicing transcendental meditation, reduced stress levels, psychological distress, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months.
Thus meditation helps in developing mental awareness to manage triggers for unwanted impulses. Which can help to beat addiction.
Therefore meditation can be adopted as a regular habit to improve your mental, physical and spiritual health. There are different types of meditation- with their own strengths and beneficial aspects. Trying out a meditation type- matching- your goal- can greatly improve the quality of your life.
For awareness purposes only. For treatment consult your healthcare provider.
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