Meditation Benefits Overview:
Meditation is good for you! Scientists say so, psychologists and doctors say so, your neighbor says so and media agrees. Very well, but why is meditation good for you? How does it help? First of all, there are many kinds of meditation and they may potentially have different benefits.
Many people focus on the physical benefits—improved sleep patterns, a better immune system, more ability to focus, less stress, higher pain tolerance, for example—while others may be more interested in psychological benefits, such as increased empathy, patience, focus, and so on.
Another benefit that inspires people to meditate can be spiritual: the space to go deeper into their faith, a greater sense of connection and an opportunity to explore the non-material are just a few facets of the spiritual dimension.
The reason why you should meditate is very much connected to what you’re interested in developing. Once you’ve established a regular meditation practice, you may discover that meditation is benefiting you in ways that you hadn’t even imagined.
Top 7 benefits of meditation:
- Improves your immune system: A lot of (most) illness is born in the mind. This is not to say that most illness is not real, but it is just preventable. Stress, lack of sleep and bad emotional regulation all affect your body on not only a psychological level, but also on a physical level. A study from Harvard Medical School showed that practitioners of yoga and meditation had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption and resiliency which improve your immune system and resilience to stress.
- Improved breathing pattern: For some this may seem obvious, but a lot of people do not understand the significance of improving your quality of breath. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs you have the very fundamentals of life that need to be fulfilled in order to progress. These start with your physiological needs: food, water, sex, sleep, going to the toilet and of course breathing. In most types of meditation you are very consciously focused on your breathing, filling your lungs up with air. The more you practice this the more it becomes a part of your unconscious, which leads to better, deeper breathing patterns.
- Higher pain threshold and resilience to illness: Meditation does take you away to another place, but while the practice alone is good. It is only practice, when you can take the conscious effort that you show during your sessions into your life it will have a big impact on its quality.What this means in relation to pain is that when you have strong spiritual health you are able to shift your conscious focus towards other things when experiencing pain. A study from the University of Montreal exposed 13 experienced meditators and 13 non-meditators to equal degrees of pain using heat while measuring their brain waves. What they found is the experienced practitioners showed less pain. The experienced meditators actually reported less pain than was shown on their scans, so even though their brains had been receiving the same level of pain, in their minds they felt it less.
- Helps you to avoid overwhelm: There is a story that lots of people tell themselves and that is “I am a great multi-tasker” generally this is not true. It is actually very hard to multitask unless you have a brain that is either unusually constructed or damaged! The goal of meditation is to focus; you do this by concentrating on your breathing or counting or whatever you are doing. This translates into a more single minded approach to day to day tasks, which raises productivity and also avoids overwhelm.
- Lowered blood pressure: Another benefit for people who practice meditation for health reasons is that mindfulness meditation has been shown to help control blood pressure. According to a study reported in the British Medical Journal, patients who practiced meditation-based exercises had considerably lower blood pressure than those in the control group. Experts believe that meditation reduces the body’s responsiveness to cortisol and other stress hormones, which is similar to how blood pressure reducing medications work. It’s one of meditation’s great health blessings.
- Reduction in depression and anxiety: Doing meditation leads to significant reductions in depressive symptoms (an average of 48% lower than the non-meditating control group). And that’s apparently true for everyone, including even those who have indications of clinically significant depression.
- Increased work efficiency: Research has shown reduction in the stress levels and better decision making. This, in turn, leads to higher efficiency at work place in both small and big organizations.
How often one should meditate to get the best of meditation benefits?
Meditation is your practice, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. To decide how much we need to invest in meditating, we need to immerse ourselves into the practice, and there are two things we have to be sure about:
- At what level are we practicing?
- What are our expectations from meditation?
For example, if you are a beginner, meditating every day for half an hour would be practically impossible for you. The amount of sustained attention we need to develop for longer meditation sessions comes with time and practice. On the other hand, if you aim to eliminate stress by meditating, a weekend retreat might not be as helpful for you as daily practices.The frequency of meditation is mostly dependent on the level we are practicing (beginner, intermediate, or proficient), and the result of the meditation practice as we see it. But as most agree, daily practice is most helpful holistically; however, the duration of training may vary from person to person.
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