Meditation started being applied to western medicine in the 1970’s. Since then, a lot of research has been done about its benefits. The results have been published in medical journals in the past several years.
So, what are the health benefits of meditation?
The following are the most common ones.
Meditation Helps Reduce Levels of Stress and Anxiety
A lot of people start meditating because they want to handle stress better. The good news is that when they start meditating regularly their stress levels tend to go down.
People who practice meditation regularly tend to have lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is an indicator of stress. The lesser you have it, the less stressed you are.
Studies also show that meditation can lessen symptoms of anxiety. As a side effect of decreased stress and anxiety, people tend to experience better sleep and clearer thinking.
People usually notice slight improvements in their stress and anxiety levels in as little as 2 weeks of meditation done once a day.
Meditation Helps With Pain Management
Certain meditation techniques allow people to tolerate and even accept physical pain. In fact, an 8-week program called the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction or MBSR helps with this.
MBSR has been helping people with pain management since the 70’s. This program includes different types of meditation and other practices that people can use to relate differently to their physical pain.
People who are in these programs are not instructed to try to get rid of their pain but to see them as mere sensations and let them be as they are.
Those who experience chronic pain usually benefit from these kinds of programs.
Meditation Helps Improve Brain Function
Studies have shown that long-term meditators tend to have healthier brains. Older people who have meditated for years to tend to have better mental faculties and better focus. Some studies even show meditation can reduce risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
Meditation tends to increase the thickness of the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for our logical thinking.
It also helps with neuroplasticity which is the ability of our brains to change and be flexible.
Meditation is Used in Depression Treatment
Meditation along with related methods have been used in treating depression for years now.
Various kinds of psychotherapy like Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy and Mindful Self-Compassion use meditation in alleviating depression.
In popular forms of meditation thoughts are observed without reacting to them. In treating depression meditation is used to get some distance from depressive thoughts so as not to automatically believe them when they come up in awareness.
Therapists instruct their clients to not try to get rid of the thoughts and just allow them to be. This then frees the client to engage with the present and function better.
Another type of meditation used in therapy is called Loving Kindness Meditation. It’s a form of meditation where you send well wishes and goodwill to yourself and others. It tends to increase self-compassion and compassion for others.
Meditation: It’s Healthy For You
Other benefits of meditation are:
1. Lowered Blood Pressure
2. Improved Response to Cravings and Addiction
3. Increased Immunity to Diseases
4. Reduced Risk for Heart Diseases and Stroke
5. Management of Fibromyalgia
6. Decreased ADHD symptoms
A lot of people of are meditating now and getting these benefits. Why not start meditating now? Try meditating for at least once a day for 2 weeks and see the results.