Meditation is far more than just a religious practice; it is actually incredibly good for your mental, physical and emotional health. It is great for relieving stress, and has no negative side effects. Below are ten things meditation does to improve your health.
10. Both Mood And Stress Levels Are Greatly Improved
A recent study found that those who meditate, even as little as eleven hours a month, can see both increased cognitive performance, and greatly increased mood. Researchers studied 68 university students over the course of a month, and found that they had an increase in white matter around the anterior cingulate cortex. This is part of your body’s self-regulation system, and is used to control mood, among other things. Those who took part in the study had lower levels of anxiety, anger, fatigue, and depression, than those in the control group. If you are ever in a situation where life is getting you down; don’t get mad, get to meditating.
9. It Can Help Facilitate Psoriasis Treatments
Psoriasis is an immune disorder that causes your body to think that healthy skin cells are diseased, and sends out a signal to create new ones, which leads to far too many new skin cells. This causes scaly, itchy patches on people’s skin, and is believed to lead to an increased risk of stroke. Scientists conducted a study with groups of people about to undergo phototherapy for their psoriasis. One group was given regular guided mindfulness meditation sessions along with the phototherapy, and the control group simply had the phototherapy and nothing else.
After going over the results, the scientists concluded that those who had gone through the guided mindfulness meditation sessions had decreased stress, as well as quicker resolution of their psoriatic lesions. Basically, those who had meditated healed both faster and better.
8. It Can Reduce Your Risk Of Schizophrenia And Other Psychotic Disorders
Scientists at Yale learned that experienced mediators tend to turn off the part of the brain with “me” thoughts, as well as mind-wandering. The researchers believe that these states, in their pathological form, are associated with schizophrenia, autism and anxiety disorders. Meditation allows for people to be more present-centered, instead of self-centered, according to the scientists. It is believed that schizophrenia has a strong genetic factor, but certain circumstances come into play as to whether someone at risk for the disease actually develops it. Meditation could help someone, who might otherwise be at risk, avoid contracting the disease, or at least control their symptoms better.
7. It Can Reduce Cholesterol And Help Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Scientists discovered, after multiple tests and controls, that a seven-step program in transcendental meditation (which doesn’t require any change in religious or philosophical belief) for just twenty minutes twice a day, can have incredible health benefits. They discovered that this form of meditation can reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It was also found to decrease the effects of problems like angina pectoris and carotid atherosclerosis. The former involves chest pains due to obstruction or spam of the coronary arteries, and the latter is a constriction of the carotid artery. None of those problems sound very good, but transcendental meditation is a great, cost-effective way to help improve symptoms, though treatment should still involve professional medical care.
6. It Can Help Control And Reduce Asthma Symptoms
Scientists studied a group of 70 asthma patients who used inhalers regularly, and had them perform yoga meditation over a three-month period. The members of the case group showed improvement in their pulmonary functions, decreased respiratory rate, less need to use their inhalers, fewer asthma attacks, and a decreased pulse rate. The researchers are not entirely sure what caused these incredible effects on the patients, but they believe it may have something to do with an increased amount of endorphin activity, airway muscle dynamics, and better balance in the autonomic nervous system. We could also go with the fact that those with asthma have trouble breathing properly, and meditation is very focused on improving breathing.
5. It Can Help You Beat Addiction
In a recent study, scientists had 19 adults, who were recovering from alcoholism, take part in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program, as well as having them meditate at home. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that the participants were likely to find the techniques very beneficial for beating addiction. The participants themselves rated the meditation as being very helpful, and many desired to keep doing it regularly at home. The reason for its effectiveness is believed to be that the meditation reduced their stress levels and helped them cope with the cravings, as well as giving them increased mindfulness. This can work for any addiction, be it alcohol or cigarettes.
4. It Can Help Improve Your Immune System
Scientists wanted to learn if mindfulness meditation could improve people’s immune systems. The researchers did a study, where a group of healthy people were given an eight-week clinical training program on mindfulness meditation. The control group did not meditate at all. At the end of eight weeks, scientists gave both groups a flu vaccine. The scientists found that those who had meditated for eight weeks prior had a significantly larger antibody-to-influenza ratio, than those who had not mediated. They believe that this demonstrably proves that meditating, for even as short a period as eight weeks, can significantly improve your immune system. If you tend to get sick a lot, this may be a great way to improve your life.
3. It May Help You Lose Weight
In a recent study, researchers wanted to find out if mindfulness meditation could prevent stress-eating among obese women, and help them lose weight over time. 47 women were assigned to one of two groups. The control group was given basic information about diet and exercise but that was it, while the other group was given daily mindfulness meditation exercises, to help them reduce stress and fight the urge to overeat. Scientists tested for how they ate, their Cortisol Awakening Response (a stress hormone), abdominal fat, weight, anxiety, and mindfulness. They found that those who meditated regularly had less anxiety, more mindfulness, and were less likely to over eat. They also found a reduction in CAR and, while the effects were not very noticeable over a short period of time, scientists associated these responses with a reduction in abdominal fat.
On the other hand, the control group did not receive the sort of benefits those who meditated got, and some even gained weight. The main takeaway is that meditation helps you control your cravings, stops you from stress-eating, and can lead to significant weight loss over time.
2. It Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
The same Yale researchers from before also did functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on experienced mediators, who were using three different techniques. The researchers found that those who were experienced at meditation tended to have decreased activity in the default mod network. This network is known for causing the buildup of the beta amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. It might not necessarily cure you if you already have Alzheimer’s, although researchers believe meditation would be helpful even if you already have the disease. However, it definitely will help prevent it from happening in the first place, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you are getting older, and are worried about Alzheimer’s, daily meditation could save your brain.
1. It Improves Cognitive Function
Researchers have known for awhile that those who have meditated regularly for a long time have increased cognitive ability, including increased brain connectivity and better fluid intelligence. Scientists wanted to find out, however, if someone could get similar effects after only a few days with no previous experience meditating. At the end of a four-day study, scientists discovered that even those who had never meditated before had improvements in visuo-spatial processing, working memory, attention, and executive processing. The meditation training also improved their minds, even though they had never tried it before, leading to decreased anxiety, reduced fatigue and increased mindfulness. What we are saying is that, in just a few days, meditation will make you much smarter, and it won’t even take much time out of your day.