Health Benefits of Meditation
If you think meditation is just sitting quietly on a cushion surrounded by strangers in a yoga studio while saying, “om,” you may be surprised at the reality of what it really is, as well as the many health benefits you can get from meditation.
You can train your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts and increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings through the habitual process of meditation. Many view meditation as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration while also using it to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as developing a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, and healthy sleep patterns, and even increasing pain tolerance.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety; Develop Emotional Health and Kindness
The stress hormone, cortisol, can be increased from mental and physical stress. This in turn produces many harmful effects of stress such as the release of cytokines, i.e. inflammation-promoting chemicals. This can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.
Mindfulness meditation can reduce the inflammation response caused by stress. Meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.
Less anxiety comes from less stress. Mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety and anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, negative thinking obsessive-compulsive behaviours, and panic attacks.
Other forms of meditation can help lead to an improved self-image and more positive outlook on life.
Loving-kindness meditation (Metta) begins with improving kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself. Through meditation practice, people learn to extend their kindness and forgiveness externally, first to family and friends, then to acquaintances and ultimately to their enemies.
Self-Awareness, Increased Attention Span, and Reduced Age-Related Memory Loss
You can develop a stronger understanding of yourself and grow into your best self through some forms of meditation. Self-inquiry meditation is one example, which explicitly helps you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those who surround you.
Other forms of meditation can teach you to recognize harmful or self-defeating thoughts, to gain greater awareness of your thought habits, and steer them toward more constructive thinking patterns.
Meditation experience can also cultivate more creative problem solving.
You can do weightlifting for your attention span with focused-attention meditation, to increase the strength and endurance of your attention.
When you work on your attention and clarity of thinking it can help keep your mind younger.
Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus thoughts.
Meditation can help improve memory in patients with dementia as well as help control stress and improve coping in those who care for family members with dementia.
Meditation Improves Sleep, Controls Pain, and Decreases Blood Pressure
Using mindfulness meditation, you can fall asleep sooner, stay asleep longer, and help control or redirect the racing or “runaway” thoughts that often lead to insomnia. It can help to relax your body, release tension, and place you in a peaceful state of mind in which you are more likely to fall asleep.
Pain perception is connected to your state of mind, which can be elevated in stressful situations. Meditation can increase activity in the brain centers known to control pain, which helps to decrease sensitivity to it.
Reducing strain on the heart improves physical health, and meditation can be a tool for just that.
High blood pressure makes the heart work harder leading to poor heart function, also contributing to atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
You can reduce your blood pressure by using meditation concentrating on a “silent mantra” (a repeated, non-vocalized word), which relaxes the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels, and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations.
Meditation is something you can do anywhere, without special equipment or memberships to improve your mental and emotional health. There are meditation classes and support groups all around you. With its wide variety of styles, each with different strengths and benefits, you can try what meditation best suits your goals to improve your quality of your life, even if it’s only a few minutes each day.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Healing Soul Hypnosis and a clickable link back to this page.