Benefits of Meditation

Many thinkers and scientists have been captivated by the health benefits of
meditation. As a result, a number of studies and tests have been conducted
to measure the impact of meditation on a person. These studies have
found that meditation causes a number of benefits for both your body and
mind.

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Reduces Stress

Today, many people experience chronic or severe stress, which is very negative to our overall well-being and health. Stress is our body’s natural
response to tense or dangerous situations. When you find yourself in these situations, your body releases hormones that prepare your natural flight or fight mentality. Stress can be a good or bad thing, depending on the length of time that stress is experienced. Stress is good in short bursts because it can motivate us to accomplish our goals or finish tasks by their assigned deadlines. Long-term stress, though, is bad for our health because it can
cause physical damage to our bodies and mind.

According to a number of studies, meditation is a great way to manage stress because it activates our body’s relaxation response. This means that
meditation restores the body to a calm state and undoes the effects of stress. As a result, meditation will allow you to manage your stress levels
effectively and healthily.

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Decreases Symptoms of Illness

According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation can be helpful if you are living with
a medical condition. Anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression,
heart disease, high blood pressure, IBS, sleep problems, and tension
headaches are just a few of the illnesses that benefit from meditation.
Some researchers believe that meditation helps illnesses because they are
exacerbated by stress. If stress is reduced, the symptoms of the illness can
be reduced too. Since meditation increases relaxation, it reduces the
symptoms of the illness.


Improves Heart Health

One of the best impacts of meditation on the body is that it improves heart
health. According to the American Heart Association, patients who
meditated saw a decrease in the thickness of their arterial walls. In
contrast, patients who did not meditate experienced no change to their
arterial walls.
The thickness of your arterial walls is very important. Thick arterial walls
can cause a number of negative health issues such as high blood pressure,
obesity, and other heart-related illnesses. If your arterial walls get too thick,
they can impact the amount of blood that pumps from the heart, causing a
heart attack or stroke.
With meditation, the thickness of the arterial wall decreases, which will
allow your heart to pump blood more fluidly and decrease the chances of
having a stroke or heart attack.


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Decreases Muscle Tension

Another one of the benefits of meditation on the body is decreasing muscle tension. Muscle tension is when the muscles are not relaxed properly,
which often causes sharp pain and difficulty in moving. You may
experience muscle tension if you work out intensely, experience severe
stress, or take certain medications.
Since meditation often includes controlled breathing and calming the mind,
it helps your muscles to relax as well. There is even a meditative technique,
called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, that is targeted towards muscle
relaxation.
More so, meditation reduces stress, which is a leading cause of muscle
tension. If you reduce stress levels, you will also reduce its side effect of
severe muscle tension.

Increases Metabolism

Meditation also increases metabolism. Although meditation will not cause
you to lose a ton of weight, it will help your body to burn off more calories
while resting.
The reason for this is that meditation causes an increase of activity in the
hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling your
metabolism. If this area is more active, then your body will naturally have a
higher metabolism.


Slows the Brain Aging Process

Brain
Old Women

Another one of the benefits of meditation is the impact on the mind and how it better preserves the brain aging process. The brain aging process is measured by the amount of grey matter volume in the brain. The more grey matter, the better shape your brain is in in terms of aging. A study conducted by UCLA found that long-term meditators had more grey matter volume than those who do not meditate. Younger meditators had more grey matter than older meditators, but older meditators had more grey matter than non-meditators of the same age. This study suggests that meditating slows the brain aging process. Slowing the brain aging process is a great benefit of meditation. The longer the grey matter is preserved, the better your brain functions for muscle control, sensory perception, emotions, and self-control. So, meditation will allow us to use a well-functioning brain and mind for a longer part of our
life.


Improves Psychological Well-Being

Another way that meditation impacts the mind is that it changes the
structure of the brain so that you experience an improvement in your
psychological well-being. Brain structure is measured by the thickness of
the cortical or the brain cell volume. In a study conducted by Harvard University, researchers found that eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction increases cortical thickness in the hippocampus and in areas that control emotion regulation and self referential processing. At the same time, it decreases thickness in the
amygdala, which controls fear, anxiety, and stress. As a result, patients of the experiment reported an improvement in the psychological well-being and happiness. In fact, patients reported that they felt less stressed and generally felt better about themselves and their lives.

In other words, the benefits of meditation on the mind can result in increased
happiness and contentment. Additionally, meditation improves self-image and outlook. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation decreased depression in over 4,600 adults. One possible reason for this is that stress releases inflammatory
chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines can affect mood and lead to
depression. Since meditation manages stress, fewer cytokines are
released, leading to a decrease in depression. Some studies have even measured electrical activity in the brains of meditators. The study found that those who meditate have more activity in the regions of the brain that are associated with positive thinking and optimism, further showing how meditation improves one’s psychological well-being.


Improves Concentration

Meditation also improves one’s concentration and ability to focus. In fact,
some studies suggest that even a couple of weeks of meditation increases
focus and memory. In a study that measured the concentration benefits of meditation, those who meditated for a few weeks before the GRE experienced a 16-point increase in the overall score. This point increase is attributed to the increased ability to focus on the questions and test. So, meditation increases one’s ability to concentrate and focus. This increase affects the mind greatly because it increases its performance when tested and put under pressure.

Reading

Assists Addicts in Recovering

Addiction is a brutal disease that is difficult to regulate, control, and
maintain. One way that some addicts have learned to control their addiction
is through meditation. It is believed that meditation’s effect on the self control
regions of the brain allows people to better control their addictions
and impulses. In one study, it was found that smokers who meditate were many times more likely to quit smoking than those who did not meditate. This study
suggests that meditation helps addicts because it allows them to ride out
the craving until it passes. Other studies have looked at Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention and found that meditation is
effective at treating other forms of addiction as well.

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