7 Amazing Health Benefits of Meditation
Health professionals today recommend meditation for everyone because of its proven health benefits. Numerous scientific researches conducted to monitor the benefits of meditation have shown the spiritual, emotional, social and physical benefits of meditation. In today’s fast-paced life, meditation is the key to achieve mental peace and happiness.
What are 7 amazing health benefits of meditation?
Listed below are 7 major health benefits of meditation.
1. Meditation to manage stress, anxiety and depression
Meditation is found to be very useful in decreasing stress, anxiety and depression. It calms the mind and prevents the mind from getting caught up with unwanted thoughts.
Studies suggest that with regular practice of meditation, the cortisone level (also referred as stress hormone) tends to decrease and you feel less stressed.
A study conducted by Johns Hopkins revealed that meditation provided equal relief from depression as much as the antidepressants.
Another study conducted by Ohio State University suggests that meditation is helpful in memory processes and emotional regulation by increasing grey matter concentration in brain regions.
Meditation helps us to become less reactive and more responsive to events in our life.
2. Meditation to lower blood pressure
Meditation is considered to be the best alternative method for patients with hypertension. According to health experts, meditation works the same way as the anti-hypertensive medications work in the human body, i.e., it reduces the responsiveness to stress hormones.
The study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that relaxation response techniques such as yoga or meditation may help lower the blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart attacks.
Besides having such a great health benefit, meditation is cost effective, easily available, and free of any side effects unlike antihypertensive medications. With regular practice, one can feel overall health improvement.
3. Meditation for better sleep quality
Meditation improves sleep by reducing the severity of stress, anxiety and depression which are major causes of sleep interruption. A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine about the effects of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality revealed improved sleep quality with meditation.
Meditation is considered to be the best practice because it is harmless, cost effective and easily available.
However, one may have to shell out some money on meditation classes and books, but that could be a one-time investment, if at all.
There are also many free mobile apps and YouTube videos available if someone would like to try it before spending money on it.
Regular practice of meditation can be helpful in not just getting faster sleep, but also in getting more relaxed and sound sleep.
4. Meditation for happiness
There is a strong connection between meditation and happiness. Meditation brings happiness by working on our thoughts, actions and desires.
All human beings have desires, most of which are unnecessary or unwanted. In order to accomplish these desires, they become anxious, hyperactive, and overambitious which result in mental as well as physical breakdown.
The path of fulfilling these desires sometimes brings a lot of sadness, grief and sorrow. With meditation we can learn how to create a balance between mind and body which in the long run helps to regulate emotions.
“Human desire tends to be insatiable. We are so anxious for pleasure that we can never get enough of it. We stimulate our sense organs until they become insensitive, so that if pleasure is to continue they must have stronger and stronger stimulants.” ~Alan W. Watts
While completing his Ph.D. research at Harvard University, Matt Killingsworth wanted to know the answer for one question “what makes us happy?
As a part of his research, he created an app named Track Your Happiness (available only on Apple app store) where he collected a large sample of 15,000 individuals from 80 countries.
These individuals belonged to different levels of income group, age, gender, education, marital status and occupation.
The results were astounding. Individuals who were focused on their present moment/experience were notably happier than those who were preoccupied with racing thoughts in their minds.
5. Meditation to cure cravings and addiction
Meditation has proven to be of great help for those who are dealing with addiction. We develop cravings towards certain things when our brain begins anticipating rewards for a specific habitual action. Although it is a part of human nature, it can convert into an addiction in extreme cases.
American psychiatrist, neuroscientist and author, Dr. Judson Alyn Brewer, wrote in his book The Craving Mind that we all are vulnerable to addiction. He explains how the feeling of satisfying a craving creates a new memory in our brain.
The repetitive actions to satisfy these cravings give birth to an addictive pattern in our brain. Severe addiction can lead to hopelessness and make us feel like we are out of control.
A study conducted on smokers revealed that they willingly quit smoking after participating in meditation training sessions.
With regular practice of meditation, we can become aware and witness these cravings instead of impulsively responding and becoming a victim to them.
6. Meditation to improve creativity
Meditation helps in breaking our mental blocks created by habitual thinking patterns and paves way for new and innovative ideas in our mind.
Regular practice improves our brain functioning including working memory that is essential to keep information active in our minds.
The Neuropsychological Connection Between Creativity and Meditation is a research based on electrophysiological studies conducted by Ast. Prof. at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Roy Horan III, who is also the founder of Innova Ltd. (a company that deals with training creative and mindful approaches for enhancing performance and well-being) supports the hypothesis that meditation training enhances creativity.
Another study conducted by Italian cognitive psychologist, Dr. Lorenza Colzato, highlights the effects of meditation on creative thinking.
One of the greatest innovators and thinkers of the modern era, Steve Jobs, also referred to meditation as the main source of his creativity.
It is worthwhile to note what science has to say about the correlation between meditation and creativity!
7. Meditation for irritable bowel syndrome
Medical research conducted on a small group of people having IBS symptoms. They were further divided into 2 groups, one group was involved in support group therapy and other in mindful meditation.
After a 3 month follow up, the study revealed that the physical and psychological symptoms of IBS were managed more effectively by those who were practicing mindfulness meditation than those who were being treated in support group therapy.
Mindfulness meditation techniques have been found to have better results in patients with IBS because it has been found to improve chronic symptoms of depression and fibromyalgia.
Studies clearly indicate that mindfulness meditation is a practical and inexpensive method to improve IBS says a licensed clinical psychologist who was one of the researchers involved in the study.
According to a research published by National Library of Medicine – National Center for Biotechnology Information, 10 out of 13 original participants with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) participated in a one year follow-up study to determine whether the effects of meditation on IBS symptom reduction were maintained over the long-term.
From pre-treatment to one-year follow-up, significant reductions were noted in the symptoms.
It is quite evident that meditation is not just a spiritual practice, in fact it has an abundance of health benefits proven by science over and over again.