In addition to relief from stress and anxiety, scientists have studied and found that there are numerous health benefits of meditation, which the entire medical community has accepted. More and more, medical professionals are incorporating meditation along with traditional medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions. Below is a list of the top ten health benefits of meditation.
Meditation Lowers Heart rate and Improves Blood Circulation
Meditation is very relaxing; hence it plays a crucial role in reducing your stress hormones produced in the body. When the stress hormones are low, your heart rate is lowered. Scientific research has proved that people who meditate tend to have lower heart rates and improved blood circulation in their bodies. Meditation also helps in lowering the levels of lipid peroxide in your body which lowers your risk of suffering from atherosclerosis.
Meditation Improves Brain Function
Scientific research backs up the effectiveness of meditation in reducing anxiety and depression. Meditation involves training your mind to a high level of awareness allowing it to focus on the present issues only. During meditation, you don’t think about your daily routine, and you aren’t concerned about what the future holds. You give your mind a much-desired break from your worries and stress. A study conducted at John Hopkins University indicated that meditation provides results similar to those of antidepressants. Meditation resulted in significant reduction of symptoms of anxiety and depression. A particular type of meditation referred to as mindfulness meditation helps in relieving depression and anxiety.
Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure
Results of a scientific study conducted at Harvard Medical School proved that meditation lowers blood pressure by making your body less responsive to stress causing hormones in a similar as blood-pressure lowering medication. The study found out that meditation was so effective for at least 45 out of 60 patients with high blood pressure, that they could forego their medication without any further effects. Another report published in the British Medical Journal demonstrated that patients who were trained on how to relax and remain calm reported a significant reduction in their blood pressure.
Meditation Fortifies Your Immune System
Doctors agree that the blood of people who meditate tend to contain more antibodies compared to the blood of those individuals who don’t meditate. The antibodies are responsible for protecting your body against infections. Research conducted in 2013 at the University of Alabama found out that the participants who meditated regularly had an improved immune system function. This was particularly noted in participants who were suffering from cancer and HIV. The same study proved that meditation could boost the immune systems of people with suppressed immune systems.
Meditation Can Be Anti-Inflammatory
This is probably one of the surprising health benefits of meditation. Stress can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is a dangerous state that is often linked to heart diseases, asthma, and arthritis and skin complications such as psoriasis. Relaxation helps in switching off the stress response. It has been proved that people who take part in an 8-week course of mindfulness meditation and relaxation experience a significant reduction in stress-induced inflammation better than their counterparts that opt to alter their diets and increase their exercise levels.
Reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Meditation helps in alleviating symptoms of both Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Disease. How it works remains a mystery, but many researchers agree that the results of meditation are undeniable. In a research conducted at the State University of New York, when patients who were suffering from the bowel syndrome began practicing relaxation at least twice in a day, the symptoms of bloating, constipation and diarrhea improved significantly.
A study carried out at the University of Western Australia found that chances of a woman conceiving when she is relaxed are very high. Quite often, stressed women find it hard to conceive. This doesn’t affect women alone, another study conducted at Trakya University in Turkey found that stress tends to lower the sperm count in men. Relaxation and calmness may help in boosting male fertility.
Reduces stress and cortisol
Meditation is one of the perfect ways of reducing stress, promoting relaxation and lowering cortisol. Practicing meditation for as little as 10 minutes in a day can significantly reduce stress and decrease your anxiety. Meditating for at least an hour on a daily basis can reduce mood disturbance in both men and women of all ages. Undertaking meditation for at least four consecutive days can help in reducing the level serum cortisol in your blood, which reduces stress.
Helps to Improve Sleep and reduce Insomnia
A psychiatrist from the University of Cambridge described meditation as one of the best ways to trigger and maintain a relaxation response. If you don’t find sleep at night, then you may be lacking a relaxation response. The best way of dealing with the lack of sleep is by meditating daily. Adults who practice mindfulness meditation at least six times in a week have improved sleep and less insomnia. Doctors tend to recommend meditation to patients who suffer from insomnia. A meditation session can help you to fall asleep twice as fast as someone who doesn’t meditate and faces the same problem.
Being emotionally balanced means that you are free of all the neurotic behavior that is a result of a tortured and traumatized ego. Achieving emotional balance is not an easy task. Meditation is the only way of healing such neurosis and unhealthy emotional states. During meditation, your consciousness is cleansed of all emotionally soaked memories which provide you with great freedom and balance.
There are various types of meditation that you can use to achieve the above results. The Harvard Medical School provides the following information:
Meditation comes in many forms, including the following:
- Concentration meditation teaches you how to focus your mind. It’s the foundation for other forms of meditation.
- Heart-centered meditation involves quieting the mind and bringing the awareness to the heart, an energy center in the middle of the chest.
- Mindfulness meditation encourages you to focus objectively on negative thoughts as they move through your mind, so you can achieve a state of calm.
- Tai chi and qigong are moving forms of meditation that combine physical exercise with breathing and focus.
- Transcendental meditation is a well-known technique in which you repeat a mantra—a word, phrase, or sound—to quiet your thoughts and achieve greater awareness.
- Walking meditation turns your focus to both body and mind as you breathe in time with your footsteps.
Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse who teaches meditation at the Harvard University Center for Wellness, suggests trying different types of meditation classes to see which technique best suits you. “Meditating with a group of people is a much more powerful experience, and having a teacher talk you through the technique will make it much easier at first,” she says. Many meditation classes are free or inexpensive, which is a sign that the teacher is truly devoted to the practice.1
1 What meditation can do for your mind, mood, and health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health-