Meditation has long been recommended to help with various issues that are just a part of life—or so you thought. Now is the time to listen to this advice and start practicing your meditation. It is just one simple task that can take as little as 30 minutes a day and can have lasting benefits when done regularly. It is about more than just clearing your mind—when the mind is cleared, it affects other physiological aspects of the body, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle along with lower health risks.
Meditation is best used when supplemented with medical intervention for more serious health problems. That being said, it will never hurt your health to practice meditation to cleanse your mind.
Reduce Stress Levels
Chronic stress raises the blood pressure and leads to the constriction of blood vessels, depression, and even addiction. When the mind becomes calm during meditation, you become focused on your breathing and relaxation—which leads to a reduced feeling of stress. Controlled, deep breathing allows the body to produce higher levels of nitric oxide. This compound helps to open constricted blood vessels and will reduce blood pressure.
Decrease Muscle Tension
When you draw attention to varied areas of the body through controlled breathing, the mind will aid the muscles in relaxing. The technique known as Progressive Muscle Relaxation can be used at the start of a meditation session to tense and relax muscles throughout the body with mindfulness and purpose.
Improve Heart Health
Individuals who meditate throughout the day will experience a reduction in the thickness of their artery walls—those who do not meditate do not experience this reduced thickness. This reduction of thickness translates to a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.
Up Your Emotional Wellbeing
Meditation can reduce the gray matter density in some areas of the brain that are related to stress and anxiety. Those who practice a specific type of meditation are less likely to get stuck on any one negative stimulus. Meditation will also decrease your levels of worry and improve three areas of compassion—compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and compassion for one’s self.
Individuals that practice yoga and meditation experience an improvement in their mitochondrial energy production, resilience, and consumption. This process leads to a boost in the immune system as well as an overall resilience to stress. The health benefits of meditation include much more than just a clear mind.
“Open monitoring” meditation has positive effects for creativity and diverging thinking. This specific type of meditation consists of monitoring, but not reacting to, the content of the experience through each moment. Those who did this type of meditation seemed to perform better at tasks in which they were asked to come up with new ideas in a creative manner.
Improve Positive Relationships and Empathy
Loving-kindness meditation helps the individual focus on developing a sense of love and care toward every being. One study has shown that practicing this type of meditation allows for the individual to better empathize with others through reading their facial expressions. Building up these positive emotions through compassion will help to increase personal resources, like a loving attitude toward one’s own self, a loving attitude toward others, social support, and self-acceptance.
Reduce Social Isolation
Loving-kindness meditation will increase the feelings of social connectedness as well as a positive attitude toward new people—both explicitly and implicitly. This type of meditation is easily implemented and can help to reduce social isolation and increase a variety of positive social emotions.
Reduce Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease
Meditation has the ability to significantly reduce the risk of mortality, stroke, and myocardial infarction in those with heart disease. This is because meditation lowers the blood pressure and changes other psychosocial stress factors. Along with this, it will reduce the risk of depression, premature death, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com