The cat is out of the bag: meditation is something you SHOULD be doing. There certainly aren’t any drawbacks to carving out a little R&R time to the tune of pure silence. After all, the stuff itself is golden.
Many people have some preconceived notions about meditation that deter them from getting in on a little of that magic zen action. Rest assured, we’re big believers that meditation is for anyone and everyone.
The hardest part isn’t even learning how to meditate; it’s making meditation a habit. While we can meditate here and there, that’s just not how you see the big changes take place. A daily session – even just 5 minutes a day – can make a huge impact on both the brain and body.
The benefits of meditation
Better sleep. Meditation can be a natural cure to insomnia and other sleep-related issues resulting in more restful sleep. Only makes sense, right? Timing your meditation sessions to be during the day when you’re still energetic can lead to better zzz’s later, so get on it! You could potentially replace sleeping pills with a simple time-out. If you’re looking for more resources to snooze better, join our free 7-Day Sleep Challenge – you can begin whenever you’d like.
Don’t worry, be happy. It helps to promote an overall positive mood and lessens distress in everyday life, even for those who don’t generally suffer from anxiety. This has been studied in many situations, but it can be particularly helpful to those who experience anxiety and stress due to chronic pain or illness. While we don’t always have control over certain health stressors, we can help to lessen the stress in and of itself. Mindfulness meditation decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress
Pain management. Speaking of chronic pain, meditation has been shown to reduce physical symptoms of diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia when practiced over time. In one study, individuals who practiced meditation experienced less muscle aches and pains.
Lowering blood pressure. Meditation can lower or stabilize resting heart rate and blood pressure in individuals without pre-existing conditions. In conjunction with a heart-healthy diet, this can be used as a treatment or preventative measure.
Easing addiction. According to studies, mindfulness can help those who turn to substance abuse to relax or “escape” by instead using meditation. Studies have proven that even people with severe emotional difficulties show notable improvement with meditation over time. If you’re looking to kick nasty habits or that evening glass of wine, the benefits of meditation may be something to consider.
Keep your brain strong. Meditation improves cognitive functioning, specifically visuo-spatial processing, memory, and executive functioning. Exercising the brain and keeping these functions in tip-top shape can be incredibly vital to overall longevity, not to mention the daily changes you’ll notice. In another study, meditation practitioners were found to have a lower age-related decline in thickness of specific cortical region.
Less stress, of course. It has been shown to potentially decrease stress-induced cortisol (hormone) secretion. Too much cortisol can sabotage weight loss efforts by throwing off hormones, interfere with sleep, and affect brain health long-term. You can lessen the blow with daily meditation sessions.
Better mental health. Mindfulness meditation alleviates suffering associated with physical, psychosomatic and psychiatric disorders. While it’s not a suitable replacement for medication, it can offer relief to minor symptoms of depression and anxiety or soothe situational ailments.
Mood regulation for the chronically ill. Terminal diagnoses can weigh on both the mind and body. In one study, cancer patients demonstrated that increases in mindfulness over time relate to declines in mood disturbance and stress.
Focus, focus, focus. One study showed that just four days of mindfulness meditation can increase the ability to sustain attention which can help overall focus. The benefits of brief meditation sessions are seldom studied, but the subjects here saw similar benefits to long-term meditation in terms of focus. If you’re having trouble keeping a one-track mind, you should consider a few zen sessions.
Therapist-patient outcomes. In this study, it was suggested that therapists who practice mindfulness have better results and outcomes with patients and clients. Yes, the benefits of meditation include making caretakers better at their jobs! It could have something to do with creating empathy and caring connections with others which can benefit anyone who is seeking deeper and more meaningful relationships.
All in all, it’s important to remember that meditation is a form of active brain training. To draw a realistic comparison, think of how your body changes in response to strength training. The brain is a muscle, and it needs a little action sometimes! In the case of meditation, it needs a little less action sometimes. Considering how hard the brain is working to help us function – even when we’re asleep – it seldom gets the downtime it needs to focus on healing. These benefits can be seen with meditation everyday. It’s good to start small and work your way up into meditating for longer amounts of time.
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