Meditation is an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years to improve mental and physical health, spiritual awareness, and much more. With stress levels steadily rising among the general population along with an increased use of antidepressants, more and more people are turning to meditation as a natural way to improve their wellbeing.
The benefits of meditation are many. Studies have shown that continuous meditation may in fact improve the brain’s ability to regulate emotions, sometimes permanently.
Meditation has many positive benefits:
Cognitive Abilities – Research shows that meditation may help maintain and increase focus, and at least one study shows that meditation could improve the ability to multi-task. Meditation has also been shown to enhance a number of other mental functions; including memory, judgement, and self-control.
Physical Health – While there is such a thing as positive stress, chronic stress can be enormously detrimental to your body. Stress raises cortisol levels, ruins sleep patterns, and sets off a storm of physical reactions; all of which are harmful to your longterm health. Many successful entrepreneurs and those in high-powered, high-pace professions attest that meditation has helped them control their stress levels, without the need for prescription medication like anti-anxiety pills. Moreover, the practice of meditation often encourages healthy lifestyle choices, which may be especially beneficial if you are among the many people whose emotions rule how they care for their body.
Self-Awareness – Those who suffer from frequent and exaggerated anger outburst, debilitating anxiety, or other severely hampering issues may find meditation to be immensely helpful. The practice of silencing your mind and allowing yourself to just be, can help you develop a powerful self-awareness; which will actually help you detach from your ego and the things that subconsciously trigger negative reactions.
Acceptance – People who have been through loss or severe trauma often testify that one of the most difficult struggles was to accept the reality of their situation. Meditation brings you back to a place of just being, without thought or judgement concerning anything or anyone. This practice can greatly assist your efforts to reach acceptance in all kinds of situations; both small and big. Once you truly learn to accept what is without fighting against it, you will find that the one thing you can control in life is your reaction. And after all, your reactions to any given event is what causes you to feel one thing or another.
Happiness – Meditation not only has the ability to decrease negative emotions, it can also increase the outflow of positive feelings. Studies have shown that the practice of meditation causes a higher degree of brain signaling in the left side of the prefrontal cortex (the part that controls positive emotions) while the right side (the part that controls negative emotions) experiences less signals. Research aside, it doesn’t take a doctor specializing in brains to realize that increasing self-awareness and self-acceptance has the power to brighten anyone’s day!
Longevity – While turning back the clock and living forever are far-fetched concepts, studies have shown that meditation does affect the brain physiology in a way that may slow down aging, or at least alleviate some of the symptoms attached to it.This holds especially true in terms of cognitive abilities, which is one of the things aging often takes away from us in the form of poor memory and conditions like Alzheimer’s. Doctors at Harvard University have discovered that meditators often have a higher degree of gray matter – i.e. more brain cells – as well as longer telomeres (the caps on chromosomes that indicate biological age).
Cardiovascular System – Thanks to the relaxing effects of meditation, the body releases more nitric oxide into the bloodstream, which in turn lowers the blood pressure. In 2008, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published the astonishing results of a study on this subject: 60 high blood pressure patients were asked to meditate over a certain amount of time, and as it turned out, a remarkable 40 of them were able to discontinue their use of previously essential blood pressure medication.
Immune Health – Meditation appears to have a significant impact on the immune system, and many of those who practice it swear they almost never get sick anymore.
Since stress is one of the culprits that can tear down your body’s immune system, it is not entirely hard to believe this to be true.
So there you have it…. meditation is most certainly worth a shot! You have nothing to lose but fear, anxiety and high blood pressure, so why not start today?