11 Surprising Benefits of Meditation
Health benefits of meditation include relief from stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome and acute respiratory infection. It increases IQ, pain tolerance and helps in weight loss. It is also beneficial in maintaining blood pressure.
Meditation is a mind-body practice in CAM or complementary and alternative medicine. It can be of many types, most of which have originated from traditions, religion etc. There are certain techniques used by those who practice mediation. These techniques include focused attention, a specific body posture and no attention or openness to distractions without much of a response or reaction.
People all over the world practice meditation for variety of reasons. Some meditate as a part of culture or traditions that may have been followed in the families or society since many years. Some meditate to increase focus, improve health etc. Meditation has been beneficial in maintaining good health and also reducing risk of many health ailments.
Types of meditation
When taken from the religion concept it may involve the use of prayer beads or any other item that is considered sacred to a particular religion. Meditation can be practiced when standing, sitting or in the active way that is common among the Buddhists. Physical fitness incorporates its use alongside other exercises such as Yoga. This process is considered to be able to generate various forms of emotional state or alternatively encourage development of a given mental reflex to various occurrences in the surrounding environment such as compassion, anger and hatred. Meditation has a calming and relieving result that helps to direct self awareness inwardly until pure and controlled awareness is realized.
One major advantage of practicing meditation is that it is safe and so far there are no injuries that are associated with it. A person does not require any kind of equipment to meditate; all that is needed is enough space. This is why physicians recommend this practice to patients suffering from stress related conditions.
It can be practiced under supervision of doctors, health specialists, and yoga and meditation teachers. One can also self-direct and practice it however it is suggested to first learn the technique under the guidance of teachers or doctors and then practice it all by own self. There are various schools of meditation or arts such as Zen meditation, Tibetan meditation, Transcendental Meditation, tai chi and martial arts who teach the correct techniques of meditation.
Fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation every day is good and helps to relax body, mind and soul. Studies have been carried out to ascertain the various health benefits of meditation and its impact on day to day life.
Few things common across types of meditation include
Location: A quiet location is always preferred for meditating as that helps in minimizing the distractions.
Body posture: Depending on the type of meditation the position is decided. It could be sitting at one place, standing or lying down.
Focus: Different types of meditations use different things to focus. One may focus on a mantra or object or breathe sensation while meditating.
Open attitude: Distracting thoughts may keep coming while practicing meditation. It is important for the meditator to try and not lose focus. One may just observe the thoughts and slowly bring back the attention to focus. This may take some time but with regular practice it is possible to not get affected by distracting thoughts.
Health Benefits of Meditation
Stress: Beginning with ten minutes meditation session daily may help to lower stress levels. Many people suffer from this condition especially due to the lifestyle and challenges that exist in the modern society. It may not be easy to notice the level of stress that one is wallowing in and without precautionary measures it is possible for one to slip into advance stages that could lead to serious health issues. A good remedy to this condition is relaxation which is easily achieved through meditation. Finding of researchers suggests that transcendental meditation may reduce risk of psychological distress and hypertension amongst young adults.
Blood pressure: Meditation is also beneficial for managing blood pressure levels. Research study suggests that practicing transcendental meditation may be beneficial in decreasing blood pressure of those who face high risk of hypertension or psychological stress.
Insomnia: Lack of sleep can lead to serious health implications including fatigue and lack of appetite. Persons suffering from insomnia rely on sleeping pills to assist them in sleeping. Some have even tried sticking to a regular sleeping pattern but still the condition persists. Studies have been conducted to test the effect of meditation on sleep patterns and the results suggest that regular practice of mindfulness meditation may help in developing ways to work with nocturnal symptoms and waking consequences of chronic insomnia.
Acute respiratory infection (ARI): Health benefits of meditation include reduced risk of acute respiratory infections. ARI caused by viruses and influenza is one of the common illnesses that affect many. Good health and immunity system may protect the body from ARI. Exercise and meditation are some of the activities that have proven to be useful. Research study suggests that regular meditation may help in reducing ARI illness.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Mindfulness meditation training helps in maintaining good health and providing relief from irritable bowel syndrome. A study conducted on women with IBS suggests that it is effective in reducing severity of IBS.
Anxiety: Meditation helps in reducing anxiety. Findings of a study suggest that meditation reduces anxiety, blood pressure and helps in improving quality of life.
Pain tolerance: Meditation has been used as a therapy to increase pain tolerance. A research study suggests that there was an increase in pain tolerance of people post meditation and the pain ratings provided by the subjects also decreased significantly.
Sex arousal disorder: Inclusion of meditation is effective in sex therapy for treating women with sexual arousal disorder. Results of a study conducted in 2008 showed that there was a significant improvement in sexual distress and sexual desire. It also showed a trend of improvement in depression scores of women who had a sexual abuse history.
Weight loss: So far emotional eating is one of the factors that contribute largely to the increase of obesity cases both in adults and teenagers as well. This kind of eating disorder pushes a person into consuming large quantities of food even when not hungry. It is mainly caused by unmanageable stress, anxiety, boredom and sadness. Inclusion of meditation helps in controlling weight loss and the conditions associated with poor eating habit. Control of the portions eaten directly translates to reduction in the overall body weight.
Increase intelligence: Meditation cultivates and promotes the alertness of the mind and this matters a lot when it comes to the intelligence level that is considered high or of the appropriate percentage. There are different ways of improving a person’s IQ such as regular meditation. Meditation helps in improving cognitive functions and reducing psychological stress responses. It also helps in reducing rate of forgetfulness.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): CFS refers to severe tiredness that may be caused due to inflammation of nervous system or human herpes virus. Meditation may also be useful in reducing pain and treating anxiety and depression.
The process of meditation involves some level of training that acts as guidance. All the above results can only be achieved by learning from an expert how to perform this practice in the right manner. Finding those who have mastered different variations of meditation is no longer a difficult task especially with the existence of internet. There are various information sources that offer free/paid lessons on how to commence the meditation process. Alternatively one can source for information from those who have been into meditation practice for a long time in order to obtain information on where to find a trainer. Staying healthy is very important and this is made possible through meditation.