Is meditation really good for you, or does it just give you a few minutes to sit in silence without anyone bothering you? The truth is, it’s both! Due to the fact that meditation has been studied so much more in recent years, it’s something that gives you that special time for yourself while benefiting your health in numerous ways.
If this is something you’re interested in practicing for the first time or on a more regular basis, then it’s important to become familiar with the heath benefits that you can anticipate.
Some of the top benefits of doing meditation include:
1. Reduces Addictive Behavior
Many studies have shown that meditating on a regular basis can help reduce addictive behavior, like drinking alcohol or doing drugs. This doesn’t mean that it’s a cure for either of these things, but it can help keep addictive tendencies behind because of the mental clarity provides.
2. Reduce Depression
Depression is more common today than ever before and meditation is something that may help with it. This is due to the fact that it encourages mindfulness while reducing stress and anxiety. Overall this can contribute to fewer symptoms of depression, which anyone can appreciate if they want to kick sadness or feeling down.
3. Improved Anxiety
Everyone experiences anxiety but some have it worse than others. This is why so many doctors recommend meditation, as it helps to clear the mind and strengthen emotional intelligence. In addition to this, it can help improve cognitive skills so small things don’t cause as much anxiety as they normally would.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
When you meditate you give the entire body a chance to decompress and relax. This releases a compound in your body called nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure. This has actually contributed to many meditators being able to stop taking blood pressure medications, although it’s important to speak with your doctor before doing this.
5. Better Cognitive Functions
Many people notice that as they get older their mental functions start to slow down. Meditation may be able to help offset this, as studies of people who do it on a regular basis have shown that they have thicker prefrontal cortexes. This is the part of the brain that’s responsible for cognitive ability, so it being stronger can mean preventing mental slow down.
6. Increases Well-Being
One of the most recent studies on meditation has found that it can enhance signalling on the left side of the brain, which contributes to more positive emotions. This can give you a better sense of self and more positivity on a daily basis, which is crucial for good health.
7. Pain Relief
The Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre experimented with 15 volunteers to see if meditation helped them experience less pain. It found that those who had only an hour of meditation training showed a 40% reduction in the intensity of pain. This is especially astounding when you consider the fact that this is as powerful as drugs, making it something that can help individuals who suffer from chronic pain.
8. Encourages Healthier Habits
The majority of people who meditate say that they feel healthier when they do it, which encourages them to eat healthier on a daily basis. This has resulted in many meditators quitting smoking, but it also helps with weight loss because of making better food choices. This is not a benefit that is guaranteed, but it is something that the majority of people notice once they start doing meditation on a regular basis.
9. ADHD Management
ADHD sufferers looking for an alternative to medications may find that meditation helps considerably. This is because it helps reduce hyperactivity in the brain and improves focus even when distractions are present.
10. Reduced Risk of Stroke
A 5-year study released in 2012 found that participants who meditated in a class on a regular basis saw a 48% reduction in risk of stroke and heart disease. This is mainly due to the fact that meditating helps to lower blood pressure and minimize the effects of stress, which both can contribute to these health problems.
Meditation isn’t something you have to do for an hour a day to enjoy the benefits listed above. In fact, studies have found that just 20 minutes per day can make a huge impact with your well-being and your health. If you’re open-minded and willing to see what practicing this can do for you, then go for it! However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not always easy, but the commitment to staying with it can pay off in many different ways in all aspects of your life.
To get started, it’s really helpful to start with guided meditation, where you are walked through step by step on what to do – such as focusing on your breath. Once you get the hang of it, you can meditate on your own.
Youtube is a great place to get free guided meditations. Here’s an example: