For a long time, meditation was considered as a purely spiritual or religious practice. Now, literally thousands of studies have shown the great number of benefits to meditation.
Let’s take a look at these in detail:
Meditation helps to relieve stress, the most pernicious influence of modern living. It has become the norm to be stressed, the only question being just how stressed. And stress not only has lots of negative effects in itself, but it is also linked to developing anxiety and also depression.
Studies show that meditation restores and strengthens your immune system. It does this partly through reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Beyond that, meditation also actually increases your body’s T cells and antibodies. These are both markers of a strong immune system, allowing you to stay healthier and feel better.
Meditation can provide some relief from chronic pain. It does this in part by reducing stress and anxiety, which aggravate the perception of pain. And it also reduces the physical sensation of pain through muscle relaxation. In addition, mindfulness can increase your ability to breathe through sensation, without reacting to it.
Some people use meditation to improve both the quantity and the quality of sleep. It is striking how many studies on meditation to assist with other conditions have also shown improvements in sleep, like a positive side-effect. Although meditation can help in the moment that you are trying to fall asleep, its greatest strength is when practised regularly.
High blood pressure is linked to the risk of having a heart attack. And meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure. What more is there to say?!
Not only is breathe often used as a focus in meditation, but it helps promote better breathing. For one thing, your breath becomes slower and deeper, which has a calming effect on the entire body and nervous system. On top of that, it aids in relaxation, including of the chest muscles, which also improves breathing.
Breathing is important not just in itself, but also because it helps with anxiety and asthma attacks. It also increases the amount of oxygen being delivered to your entire system, nourishing all the cells in your body and especially in your extremities.
In calming body and mind, meditation helps deactivate your fight-or-flight response. This improves your digestion, and even your fertility. It helps your body to return to a situation of homeostasis - a natural, healthy balance. In fact, it helps all of your vital organs to function at an optimal level.
Meditation is also a powerful way to calm your emotions. It is ‘prescribed’ for people with anger management issues, for example. And many people talk about their need to ‘comfort’ eat. Learning a technique that reduces the impact of ‘negative’ emotions, and boosts your sense of well-being, therefore helps at a number of levels. It can help with weight control, and also with maintaining good relationships, be that with colleagues, family or friends.
All told, there are lots of good reasons to make meditation a regular part of your life.
On top of these more physiological and medical reasons, meditation also boosts your creativity and productivity. It really is one of the best things you can do for yourself!