Modern lives can be incredibly stressful. You have to deal with many different kinds of stress in your work environment, the daily commute, keeping fit and healthy, earning enough, looking after your family, maintaining healthy relationships, and more. These stress factors can make you tense, anxious, and worried, which is not a great way to be because, along with your inner peace, prolonged stress can also result in a negative impact on your physical health. Meditation is a very effective way of countering stress and worry. It is simple, and anyone can do it without any special equipment, and best of all, there is no expense says Jonah Engler. Moreover, you can meditate wherever you are. For example, you can meditate while waiting to see the doctor, waiting at the bus stop, traveling on a bus, or even on a walk.
Get a Grip on What Meditation Is
The art of meditation is not new. It has been around for hundreds of centuries, and its original intent was to understand the meaning of life. However, it is more used for stress reduction and relaxation in the modern context. Since meditation produces a tranquil mind, it is considered mind-body complementary medicine. The state of calmness that meditation creates feels good and is beneficial for health. As the body of evidence on the health benefits of meditation mounts, mainstream medicine is also beginning to acknowledge its effects. The biggest advantage of meditation that works even for skeptics is that it does not have any side effects and does not cost any money. Some of the top benefits of meditation for your health include:
Improves Mental Health
According to one expert in medicine and psychiatry, a significant benefit of meditation is that it helps people get out of their way. According to Jonah Engler, meditation reduces stress, which is proven a trigger for numerous serious ailments, including obesity, anxiety disorders, and heart disease. Meditation is an effective mood booster. An analysis of as many as 47 trials involving more than 3,500 people by the researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed meditation programs focused on mindfulness helped improve anxiety.
According to an expert, the long-term practice of meditation can significantly reduce the risk of depression or treat it if you are already afflicted by it. The reason for the effect is that meditation is supposed to affect the chemistry of your brain positively. According to research, meditation checks the release of cytokines or mood-altering inflammatory chemicals leading to depression over time. There is adequate evidence to recommend the use of meditation to treat people suffering from depression, anxiety, or chronic pain.
Reduces Damaging Inflammation
If the body thinks that there is something foreign in it, it starts to produce infection-fighting chemicals and compounds. It is why your finger swells if a thorn gets embedded in it. However, if you suffer from chronic inflammation, it can cause changes in your system. These have been positively correlate with several major diseases like diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. Research suggests that you can help mitigate the damage by practicing meditation. In an experiment report in the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal, two sets of participants were given training in meditation or enroll in a general program for health improvement. After eight weeks had elapsed, all participants used a capsaicin cream on their skin to induce an inflammatory response. Participants of the meditation program showed a significantly less inflammatory response than the others. It suggests meditation can reduce bodily inflammation.
Help Control Craving for Food
One of the main reasons for obesity is mindless eating, particularly junk food, observes Jonah Engler. A study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine has reported how a group of people with obesity and weight problems participated in 10-minute meditation sessions daily for 28 days. The trial results revealed that the participants could reduce their craving for food by as much as 40%. According to the head researcher, meditation helps to focus the mind and make it more aware of the experience of craving so that people do not get trap by it. He says that meditation helps break the connection between desire and action.
Boosts the Brain
Research is also pointing to the positive impact of meditation on brain processes. A study published in Psychological Science suggested that participants who undertook two-week training in mindfulness improved their GRE reading comprehension performance better than a control group that had not undergone the training. The research revealed that meditation decreased the extent of the wandering of the mind and significantly boosted cognitive performance. Even though it is still not quite clear how and why it happens. Other studies suggest that certain parts of the brain, including those that deal with attention, become thicker. And a larger brain has more processing power. A follow-up study concluded that meditating for 40 minutes daily for two months. It was adequate to boost the volume of the brain. And improved areas like learning, memory, perspective, empathy, compassion, and stress. The net result is the subjects became better at some cognitive tasks.
Slows Premature Ageing
It is already prove that one of the biggest causes of aging is uncontrol stress. It also increases the chances of people suffering from chronic diseases like cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Researchers invited 102 women to spend six days relaxing or undergoing a meditation program says Jonah Engler. The comparison of blood samples taken at the start. And finish of the exercise revealed an improvement in aging-related biomarkers of the group that had meditated. While the reason is not clear, it is increasingly becoming evident that meditation seems to reduce the speed of aging. Possibly due to stress reduction, says a study published in Translational Psychiatry in 2016.
There are clear indications that meditation may help treat a whole host of diseases. Especially those trigger or worse by stress. Accordingly, if you suffer from issues like anxiety, chronic pain, asthma, depression, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches due to tension, or face difficulty in sleeping, you can consider practicing meditation.