Getting to Know the Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice that has been proven to reduce stress and improve physical and mental well-being. The long list of benefits can be attributed to the increase in activity within the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). I’ve been meditating for about 15 years and have experienced many of the benefits listed below. I’m sure you can too.

by David Stone

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

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When you meditate, your body begins to relax as your heart rate slows down and blood pressure decreases. People who meditate may experience better sleep, less anxiety, higher levels of creativity, improved memory and concentration.

The benefits of meditation have been researched for over 3,000 years. The practice has gone from being thought of as a spiritual practice to mainstream medicine. Meditation is now an accepted way to reduce stress and cure ailments like high blood pressure, depression, and even cancer.

Recognized benefits of meditation

While meditation’s benefits have been accepted by many fields of medicine, many are still skeptical due to its subjective nature of it. However, there are thousands of studies that prove meditation can help treat both mental and physical ailments. The following are some of the effects of mediation on our body:

1. Reduces stress

2. Improves physical and mental well-being

3. Increases immune function

4. Lowers blood pressure

5. Decreases heart rate

6. Reduces anxiety and depression

7. Improves sleep quality

8. Increases memory, creativity, attention span, and problem solving skills

9. Allows for better coping with pain and illness

10. Helps to manage addictions

11. Decreases symptoms of menopause, menstrual cramps, and hot flashes

12. Treats chronic pain, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other digestive problems

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13. Can make childbirth easier by improving mood and attitude during pregnancy and decreasing fear and anxiety during labor

14. Can be used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis pain, lower back pain, asthma, headaches/migraines, nausea from chemotherapy, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa

15. Decreases heart disease risk factors by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure and heart rate

16. Slows down the degeneration of neurons that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease

17. Can delay the onset of gray hair and minimize age spots on the skin by increasing production of melanin, which is responsible for skin pigmentation

18. Improves sex drive, fertility, and reproductive health

19. Decreases cancer risk by reducing stress hormones

20. Boosts the immune system

21. Increases concentration, productivity, and motivation at work or school

22. Lowers blood sugar levels

23. Improves brain function including memory recall, processing speed, judgement, reaction time, attention span

24. Relieves chronic pain

25. Reduces menopause symptoms

26. Increases happiness and well-being

27. Increases emotional intelligence

28. Improves relationships with others by enhancing self-awareness, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness

29. Decreases feelings of loneliness, alienation, isolation, and boredom

30. Helps to achieve goals that are good for you (such as eating a more healthy diet, exercising, practicing yoga) and goals that make you feel good (such as going out with friends or connecting with loved ones)

But there is even more

Meditation also changes your brain physically. There is more activity in the right prefrontal cortex of the brain during meditation than there was before a person started meditating. This area of the brain is linked with happiness, positivity, and attention.

Meditation also leads to the release of neurotransmitters that are responsible for good feelings. The left prefrontal cortex releases dopamine after meditation, which improves concentration and learning skills. It also increases serotonin production which can regulate appetite and moods therefore decreasing anxiety. Other areas of the brain are activated during meditation, which causes the meditator to experience a sense of well-being and happiness.

Conclusion:

The benefits of mediation not only make you healthier but also better able to handle stress. It encourages a positive outlook on life. Studies have shown that those who practice meditation regularly will see long-term health and psychological benefits. Meditation is an effective technique for improving mental and physical health. It can be used as a complementary therapy for those who suffer from chronic pain and illness. In summary…

Short-term benefits of meditation:

1. Restful alertness

2. Seeing stress as a challenge rather than a threat

3. Handling stressful events with greater ease

4. Feeling more optimistic about your abilities to cope with challenges such as relationship conflicts, work demands, and daily hassles

5. Appreciating life more

Long-term benefits of meditation:

1. Increased mindfulness, self-awareness, and compassion

2. Decreased stress levels

3. Higher level of happiness than non-meditators four months to one year after the initiation of the practice

4. Greater ability to handle stressful events with a deeper sense of calmness

5. More positive and compassionate response to others’ suffering

6. Increased resistance to disease

7. Lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses associated with stress

8. Improved cognitive function such as memory recall, processing speed, judgement, reaction time, and attention span

9. Decreased feelings of loneliness, alienation, isolation, and boredom

10. Greater access to personal resources that promote self-actualization such as increased confidence.

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