Meditation is just one of several alternative therapies that have become popular in recent years. It’s a practice that’s part of eastern religion and philosophy, and it can help you reduce stress and increase focus. A lot of people don’t realize meditation has incredible benefits on the mind and body. It reduces the effects that stress, depression, and anxiety all inflict on us. Through meditation we can access parts of our biological, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- 1 Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, but only recently has it become popularized in the western world as an alternative therapy.
- 2 The practice has been shown to have incredible benefits on the mind and body, including stress management. Here’s why meditation can help you live a healthier life.
- 3 Meditation teaches focused awareness
- 4 Meditation encourages controlled breathing
- 5 Meditation lowers blood pressure
- 6 Meditation fights pain and inflammation
- 7 Meditation helps you sleep better
- 8 Conclusion: Mindfulness practices like meditation can help you manage stress and improve your health
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, but only recently has it become popularized in the western world as an alternative therapy.
Many people who practice meditation in the western world are looking for an alternative to traditional medical treatment. There are several reasons why meditation has become so popularized in this area over the last few years, and one of them is that it is accessible to everyone. Regardless of age, gender, physical appearance or ability, anyone can practice meditation regularly and reap its benefits.
Anyone who practices even a little bit of meditation on a regular basis will notice benefits after a while. Your mind will be more clear and focused without medication or intense exercise. You don’t have to travel to India or wear specific attire or follow any particular religion in order to practice this ancient art form.
The practice has been shown to have incredible benefits on the mind and body, including stress management. Here’s why meditation can help you live a healthier life.
Meditation can help you achieve a peaceful, nonjudgmental attitude toward the present moment. This is especially helpful when you’re experiencing something stressful, whether it’s a rough commute or an argument with a loved one. When you practice meditation, you can bring this same focus to any situation in your life and see it in a different—and often more constructive—way.
As you continue meditating, the benefits can extend beyond mindfulness to impact physical and mental health. For example, research has shown that meditation can:
- lower blood pressure
- reduce symptoms of sleep disorders
- improve concentration and focus
- relieve stress, anxiety and depression
Meditation teaches focused awareness
Meditation is a practice that teaches you to bring your mind’s attention to focus on the present moment. The basic premise of meditation is that by paying attention to what’s going on in your head, you can learn how to stop overthinking and worrying about things that are out of your control, like what could have happened or what will happen next. By focusing on the here and now, you can become more aware of every moment as it happens, which fosters a sense of calmness and serenity.
So when your life feels chaotic, meditation helps put things into perspective by focusing on the task at hand rather than being distracted by everything else going on around you. One study has even suggested that mindfulness meditation helps reduce anxiety and depression because it trains you to stay in the present moment instead of letting your thoughts run wild with worry over past events or future possibilities.
Meditation encourages controlled breathing
Controlled breathing is an integral part of meditation. By practicing proper breathing exercises, you can enhance your meditation sessions and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Some basic breathing techniques include the following:
- inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth;
- inhaling to a count of three, holding the breath for two seconds, then exhaling for a count of five;
- alternating between regular and deep breaths; or
- doing four slow breaths followed by eight quicker ones.
It’s best to practice these breathing exercises during meditation sessions that last at least 15 minutes in order to feel their full benefits.
Meditation lowers blood pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure, meditation can help you bring it down to a healthier level. It works by helping you relax and reducing the body’s production of stress hormones—and that helps lower your blood pressure. A study from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital showed that people who practiced daily meditation saw a significant drop in their blood pressure after just eight weeks.
And that’s not all meditation can do for your health. Let’s look at some other key benefits below:
Meditation fights pain and inflammation
Feelings of discontent can be closely linked to feelings of physical distress. Meditation encourages the body to accept a greater sense of peace, which in turn helps the mind deal with discomfort more effectively. Research shows that mindfulness meditation techniques are effective at reducing pain caused by chronic conditions, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, by decreasing inflammatory cytokines (inflammatory proteins) in the body. When we’re stressed out, our bodies produce more cytokines, which causes inflammation and exacerbates aches and pains. Mindfulness meditation is also proven to help decrease lower back pain and headaches when practiced regularly.
Meditation has been proven to combat stress in many different ways: through relaxation techniques that calm blood pressure, through mood-lifting endorphin production from deep breathing exercises, and even through cognitive restructuring practices that increase self-awareness. Research shows over and over again that this deceptively simple practice can have beneficial effects on your physical health for years to come when you commit yourself to it—and those benefits are far too valuable not to try it out!
Meditation helps you sleep better
A 2010 study found that simply meditating for 12 minutes daily contributed to a significant reduction in both anxiety levels and insomnia. When you meditate, you increase your level of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which regulates your nervous system and makes your mind feel more at ease. In fact, one of the benefits of meditation is that it helps you relax and sleep better. Meditation can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night, and wake up feeling more refreshed.
So if you’re looking down at your watch every hour while trying to fall asleep or constantly waking up during the night, try meditating for 15 minutes before bedtime to allow yourself to relax into sleep mode.
Conclusion: Mindfulness practices like meditation can help you manage stress and improve your health
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you reduce stress, gain control of your emotions, and create more peace in your life—all of which are essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, meditation may even be the antidote to chronic stress and disease. As medical science advances and we learn more about how the brain works, it becomes clearer that the choices we make about our health can have a huge impact on our inner landscape.
Meditation allows you to transcend your daily problems and stay focused on what’s important in life. When you meditate, you slow down or even stop completely the stream of thoughts running through your mind. This opens up a new way of being for many people, one where they feel more relaxed and at peace with themselves. There’s also evidence that meditation can lead to better physical health by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.