How Does Meditation Help?
Meditation is the practice of concentrating your focus on something to help you become more aware of yourself in the present moment.
It's used to help with stress relief, relaxation, and to help you grow spiritually or personally.
People with or without tremendous stress or documented illness can benefit from the practice of meditation. Meditation can benefit the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of your life.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
Most of the time, meditation is associated with spirituality or mental focus, but mediation can also have significant physical benefits as well.
Meditation has been shown to help with pain management. Research suggests that practicing meditation reduces pain but does not work on the opioid receptors in the brain which could have far-reaching implications for non-addictive pain management techniques.
In 2013, a study was published indicating meditation and mindfulness practices can help to reduce blood pressure and may be effective as a supplement to medicine or as a treatment for high blood pressure.
Heart and respiratory rates have been shown to be lower and remain lower in people who practice meditation. Surgical patients sometimes find that meditation helps them to heal faster after surgery because when anxiety is lessened, the body has less stress response to the healing process.
If inflammation is an issue, meditation could help as well. A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicated that meditation can change genes at a cellular level causing inflammation to be reduced. Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome have been alleviated somewhat by the practice of meditation.
The controlled breathing associated with meditation can help to relieve symptoms associated with asthma which helps to increase the quality of life of people with the disease.
Some research has indicated that people who meditate have increased immune function and stronger immune systems. Ladies who suffer from premenstrual or menopausal symptoms could find that participating in meditation practices helps to relieve their symptoms.
Mental Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can increase focus, the capacity for learning, and the ability to remember. Increased focus means that your mind stays on task and thoughts of non-related things stay off your mind.
With increased focus comes less stress and the ability to complete mundane tasks with more efficiency. Problem solving and decision making skills can be improved through practicing meditation.
Meditation causes activity in the brain to increase in areas that relate to problem-solving, memory, and learning. This activity increase can lead to an increased ability to learn new things.
A study by a researcher from the Wake Forest School of Medicine found that mindful meditation increased what is known as visuospatial memory. Visuospatial memory and processing is what helps us recognize things by sight, process visual information, and visually remember things.
Emotional and Psychological Benefits of Meditation
Most of us think of stress relief and reduced anxiety when we think of meditation. There are other psychological and emotional benefits of meditation as well.
Insomniacs could find that meditating before bedtime results in falling asleep easier and experiencing more sound sleep. In fact, meditation at any time of the day can result in improved sleep habits.
Meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression even when the person had no previous diagnosis of a disorder. Those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can benefit from adding meditation to their treatment plan. Meditation in combination with other treatments has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms associated with PTSD.
Self-awareness, self-esteem, and creativity are all boosted by the practice of meditation. Addiction treatment programs have begun to recognize the benefits of mindful meditation and have started to use the practice as a portion of their treatment plans.
Continued anger can have an adverse effect on other body systems, so using meditation and mindfulness techniques to help reduce the anger response can potentially help more than psychological well-being.
Social and Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
Sometimes feelings of loneliness can hit even when we're surrounded by other people. Studies indicate that regular meditation, whether done alone or with a group, can help to alleviate that feeling of loneliness.
When positive social emotions increase, the result can be decreased social isolation. A study done on the practice of metta meditation found that participants experienced exactly that - a decrease in social isolation along with an increase in their positive social emotions. Metta practice has also been linked to increased empathy which allows for a deeper connection with other people and more positive personal relationships. Those who practice compassion meditation tend to be more generous and compassionate when dealing with other people.
Some scientists believe that practicing Transcendental Meditation can help people who struggle with emotional eating resist the urge to eat mindlessly which has both social and physical benefits.
As mediation increases self-awareness and inner peace, it benefits us on a spiritual level regardless of our personal belief system.
Meditation is more than sitting still and staring into the void of space. It’s learning to focus attention in an effort to be more aware of yourself in the present moment.
Practicing meditation has the potential to lead to a more calm, relaxed, and healthy life. The advantages extend beyond stress relief to physical, emotional, psychological, and mental benefits.