Meditation has been coined an emotional, mental and physical health “lifesaver” for many in the last decade and for very good reason. Meditation is a habitual method of training your brain to focus entirely and redirect thoughts to a positive and safe place. It has said to be a miracle worker when it comes to many mind and body ailments. And is said to increase positive outlook, mood and self-discipline. It has also been proven to assist in positive sleep patterns and increased pain tolerance. Below will be an in-depth look into the health benefits that come with regular meditation.
The most common reason why many people incorporate meditation into their lives is to help to cope with stress. Stress is a terrible thing for both your physical and psychological health. When the body is under stress it releases harmful chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines cause inflammation within the body which can lead to high blood-pressure, disrupted sleep, fatigue and fogginess.
An 8-week study found that the meditation style “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress. Research has also demonstrated that meditation moderates symptoms of stress-related conditions including post-traumatic stress disorders, irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.
Many people within today’s society have trouble sleeping or have trouble maintaining a healthy sleep pattern. It has been proven in many studies that people who meditate fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer in comparison to those who do not practice meditation. Insomnia is usually generated by an uncontrollable racing mind. Meditation helps you to control these thoughts and gives the mind the peace and quiet it needs to sleep.
Relaxation has been proven to increase immunity in unwell people. A study conducted at Ohio State University has found that regular progressive muscular relaxation reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. With another study finding that meditation boosts the natural killer cells within the elderly, making those who practice relaxation techniques less likely to develop diseases or tumors.
Meditation increases energy and electrical activity in the left side of your brain. This part of the brain is where the immune system takes command from and more activity in that area means that the brain produces more defense cells.
Being emotionally balanced sets us up to tackle life’s daily struggles head on, with confidence and self-assurance. When there is an imbalance in your emotional life, decisions are harder and the weight of the world can feel substantial. Meditation is a great tool for destroying unhealthy emotional states. It works to cleanse the mind of old painful memories, bringing freedom, presence and appropriate emotional states and reactions.
Lowers Blood Pressure:
A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that meditation relieves the body’s responsiveness to stress hormones. Giving the body time to completely relax is proven to lower blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure is essential in protecting yourself from suffering from a heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure. We need to do all that we can to take care of our heart muscle.
Acts as an Anti-inflammatory:
Meditation is a great tool for reducing inflammation as it helps to stop the body from being inflamed by stress hormones and other kinds of inflammation. Meditation can help to protect the body from ailments such as arthritis, skin conditions, asthma and heart disease, all of which are brought about by inflammation. Studies have shown that meditation drastically reduced the inflammation marker Interluekin-6, which is responsible for such diseases as cancer, auto-immune conditions and Alzheimer’s.
Increase in Pain Tolerance:
It is known that your perception of pain is linked to your state of mind. When stressed, you are more likely to feel pain more harshly. Studies using functional MRI techniques have discovered that when confronted with pain, people who practice meditation have less activity in the part of their brain that controls pain. They were also less sensitive to the pain then those who did not meditate. Meditation has also been used to help control chronic pain for those suffering a terminal disease. People who meditate experience less pain and display the ability of being able to better deal with pain.
Women are far more likely to conceive when they are not experiencing high levels of stress, a study from the University of Western Australia has found. This is also relevant for men, with sperm counts being much higher in men who practiced meditation. If you are thinking about getting pregnant, incorporate regular meditation into your life. The practice reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and increases hormones such as oxytocin and melatonin which are responsible for relaxed, loving and trusting emotions.
Controls and Limits Anxiety:
Meditation has been linked to reducing overall anxiety and anxiety disorders. This includes phobias, paranoia, obsessive compulsive disorders, panic attacks and social anxiety. We are all susceptible to anxiety at some stage in our life, even if we do not realise it. Anxiety can be crippling and can have negative effects to many aspects of life, from work to relationships. This is looking at anxiety in the long-term with a study conducted on 18 volunteers who had completed an eight-week meditation course, three years later, those still meditating had little to no anxiety at all.
Promotes Calmness and Rational Thinking:
We can all recount a time where we let a bad thought overtake our mind and essentially ruin our day. Meditation focuses on controlling these thoughts, being able to acknowledge a negative memory or thought process and then let it go. It is a rational way of thinking. Not every emotion we have is going to be positive, but the way we react to the negative is going to play a big part on the body’s wellbeing. Constantly feeling down, sad or stressed plays a major role to your health. Being in charge of your thoughts is going to set you up for a happy and healthy life.
Incorporating meditation into your life has the ability to have an abundance of positive effects on your health. Taking the time to sit with your mind, fully relax and let yourself get centered is something well-worth taking on.