We have all heard about meditation and what it is all about.
It is about monks and Buddhism and all of that stuff, right? Well yes and no. It is actually a fantastic way to get yourself focused and calm.
It is a way of training your mind to block out unnecessary fluff and to let in all the information that you need. This also has a knock on effect to really improving your physical well-being.
OK, there is much more to it than that especially from a religious and spiritual point of view, but we will save that for later posts!
Below are the 10 reasons to start meditating.
If you are not convinced about the benefits of meditation before reading this, hopefully this list will help you to change your mind and to begin a routine for yourself. (However I think if you are reading this you will probably already be somewhat interested in its results!)
Lowers blood pressure
The Telegraph has an article about a study in the journal: Perspectives on Psychological Science. The research conducted at Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School, includes findings about the impact of meditation on all aspects of health
…new research suggests that mindfulness meditation can have benefits for health and performance, including improved immune function, reduced blood pressure and enhanced cognitive function.
Relaxes the mind
A study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, MIT, and Massachusetts General Hospital, suggests that meditation can help to reduce the distractions and annoyances that cloud our everyday existence. This means a happier life and a more productive outlook on the real things that matter to you.
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the modulation of the alpha rhythm in response to attention-directing cues was faster and significantly more enhanced among those who completed an eight-week mindfulness meditation program compared with the control group.
Induces physical relaxation
Physical relaxation and sex usually go hand in hand. When done in complete intimacy. However, many women (and men I hasten to add) are constantly trying to be great in bed or trying to please their partners. This creates a lot of stress and anxiety.
A study completed by Brown University indicates that mediation is a legitimately, and now scientific, way to reduce this worry.
…anxious, self-judgmental thoughts often run through some women’s minds as they have sex, experts say. But a new study says “mindfulness meditation” training — which teaches how to bring one’s thoughts into the present moment — can quiet the mental chatter…
Improves brain strength and concentration
Research conducted at the UCLA, shows how meditation are like “push-ups for the mind”!
Meditation, however, might not only cause changes in brain anatomy by inducing growth but also by preventing reduction….That is, if practiced regularly and over years, meditation may slow down aging-related brain atrophy, perhaps by positively affecting the immune system.
Meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large. Collecting evidence that active, frequent and regular meditation practices cause alterations of white-matter fiber tracts that are profound and sustainable may become relevant for patient populations suffering from axonal demyelination and white-matter atrophy.
Reduces emotional explosions
The same study that The Telegraph reported on also includes information about how meditating can help to regulate ones emotions, thereby lowering stress hormones and small issues that might otherwise affect us.
The authors specifically identify four key components of “mindfulness” — the state of meditation — that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. Together, these help us deal with the effects of stress.
Improves breathing efficiency
Breathing is one of those things that many of us take for granted. However you may be surprised that breathing is a huge factor in our mental happiness and reducing stress. Of course many of you already know this I don not doubt, but did you know the reasons behind it?
When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system.
It is all to do with your bodies flight or fight response. An ancient part of our development that lingers on today and helps to either face threats down or to run away if the treat is too big. It is of course very useful, but in our increasingly protected lives, even small problems can trigger this response which results in a surge of cortisol through the bloodstream, This is not good.
The parasympathetics, on the other hand, control your rest, relax, and digest response. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax, and your body is put into a state of calm and healing.
So meditation can improve your parasympathetic system.
Helps to reduce stress and tension
Psych Central has a article indicating that meditation quantitatively reduced stress in school students by up to 36% (measured as a reduction in overall psychological distress)
Researchers followed 106 secondary school students, consisting of 87 percent racial and ethnic minorities over a four-month period. Results showed that students practicing Transcendental Meditation as part of their schools’ Quiet Time program exhibited significant reductions in psychological distress factors compared to controls.
Increases ones pain threshold
I know this one sounds a bit odd, but it is less to do with some kind of sadomasochism, and more to do with pain associated with ill health.
A report by The Telegraph (they love meditation I guess!) includes a study by a Dr Fadel Zeidan, lead author at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina. It concludes that “Meditation can have pain relieving effects greater than morphine”
Researchers have found that just one hour of meditation training can reduce immediate pain by nearly half and have a long lasting effect.
The technique appears to work as it calms down pain experiencing areas of the brain while at the same time boosting coping areas.
This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation
So if you are suffering some kind of medical discomfort, perhaps meditation could improve how you feel. This is not to say that you shouldn’t go to doctors and take any medication they may provide, but it could help to be a supplemental way to reduce discomfort.
Helps you to connect with other human beings
By gaining the benefits of meditation and the improved focus and relaxation that it can bring, you also gain a social win by looking at others in a more positive light. You may be less inclined to see the bad in people and really make an effort to connect with everyone you come into contact with.
There are always going to be arseholes in the world, but perhaps by meditating everyday, you will be less likely to care about them. If you are calm and in control of yourselves, perhaps you are more likely to see points of views from other perspectives. This is great for seeing many sides of a story and really being able to speak with anyone that you find in life.
This makes you a more pleasant person to be around, (unless you already are 😉 ) and gives you a really positive feeling about yourself.
Meditation and sex have the same affect on your brain
enough said really!
So there you have it, a (not really) complete list of the benefits that can be had from creating a mediation routine everyday. In other posts I will talk about how to meditate and other things connected to it, but for now I hope that this list whets your appetites and will encourage you start.