Do you hear people say; ‘There just isn’t enough time in a day!’ But think back to when you were a child, and the days lasted forever. We still have the same 24 hours a day of course, but our busy minds process the time much differently.
What if you could actually do something that would give you a little more time in your day? If it provided health benefits too? If you did this one thing that only took about ten to fifteen minutes, and was free, would you do it?
Calm And Focused
It has been proven that a calm and focused mind brings many benefits. Having a more focused mind frees up time that our minds use worrying and allows us to focus on the task at hand, to not only become more efficient but to have more peace and joy doing the task.
Calming our minds brings us a peace and a different perspective, affecting all facets of our lives. Something so many of us desperately needs within our hectic busy lives. Benefits that will be long-term on our health and in our relationships.
Meditation Is Not Just For Sitting Anymore
There are many ways to meditate, the goal is to become calm, focused and have a happier and more peaceful mind after the meditation. You don’t have to sit cross-legged with incense at a Buddhist temple to meditate, although that is an excellent way to learn that type of meditation.
Meditation in our modern world is much more accessible and can become an easy fit within our everyday schedules. Did you know you can even learn to meditate while walking? The origin of meditation goes back thousands of years and has its roots in many cultures and practiced in hundreds of ways. The many benefits can be experienced with any type of mindfulness meditation.
The practice of mindfulness or the modern term ‘being in the moment‘, is also possible while performing just about any task. It brings the benefits that living in a mindless reactive mode will not.
What Are The Benefits?
The results are self-evident by observing those that practice mindfulness or meditation. For thousands of years, meditation has provided marvelous benefits. Now, recent scientific discoveries and modern technology are revealing how the body responds and greatly benefits from this practice.
There are more benefits to meditation than just seven, but we will list them here in broad categories just to give you an idea of the many benefits.
1. Strengthens The Brain
Research completed in 2012 at UCLA shows that meditation strengthens the brain. With an epidemic of Alzheimer’s today, these finding could save and improve lives. Meditation is found to improve the thickness of the brain and improve the connections in the brain cells themselves.
It is also showing promising results with depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Three other independent studies show meditation can reduce substance and alcohol dependency. Another study at this University shows mindful meditation or keeping your mind ‘in the moment,’ revealed results that are as effective as anti-depression drugs.
This type of mindfulness limits the dysfunctional thinking and interrupts the cycle of depressed thoughts.
2. Decreases Pain
Results from MRI scans revealed patients that practiced meditation, in this study for only four sessions of 20 minutes, experienced a 57% reduction in pain levels. Morphine and other pain relieving drugs will afford only about a 25% reduction in pain.
This study group performed less than an hour of meditation, yet the benefits were at a reduced pain level of induced morphine.
The study noted that even though the brain registered the pain they actually experienced less pain. It is also a huge breakthrough finding for those with Fibromyalgia since victims of this painful syndrome experience heightened levels of pain, documented by MRI scans.
3. Improves Immunities
Research findings from Harvard Medical School show that meditation gives the body more immunity resistance. At a higher level than just relieving a stress cold, this has shown an effect down to the mitochondrial level.
This means that meditation has positive effects on our genes, the genes that control our immune system. Our immune system is our line of defense against diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
4. Heart Health
Once again, at UCLA a study was completed with 40 men and women, from ages 55 to 85 who participated in an eight-week course of meditation training. Blood samples were taken before and after the eight weeks.
The results showed genes and proteins, targeted to be causes of inflammation that greatly increase the risk for stroke and heart attacks, were significantly lower.
As an added bonus, after the study, the group reported feelings of loneliness had greatly decreased. Loneliness is one of the major causes of a higher mortality rate in seniors. So meditation is great for the heart.
5. Improves Relationships
The use of Metta meditation, otherwise known as the loving kindness meditation, rooted in Buddhist culture has effects on many types of relationships. With the focus on caring for all living things, a benevolence and appreciation are said to take place and can change one’s life.
By exhibiting this type of appreciation, social isolation is less of an issue, loneliness and worry are replaced with compassion and people are more open to positive changes and happy relationships.
6. Weight Gain
Many people find weight gain a result of stress and emotional eating. Meditation to reduce stress can play an important part in helping to stop the hormone cortisone. Cortisol a metabolite of cortisone makes insulin resistant, and insulin is the hormone that leads to weight gain. Studies show baseline levels of cortisone drop after decreasing stress by use of meditation.
7. Live Longer
Cellular aging has been a hot topic seen in news and medical journals recently. Information is certain that the life and health of our organisms are in direct correlation to the length of our lives. A protective coating at the ends of our chromosomal organisms is called the Telomeres.
Chronic stress and depression will lead to damage of Telomeres. So basically, scientists are saying reduce the stress, live longer. Although final conclusions are still being deliberated, there is a definitive connection between mindful meditation techniques and longer life spans of the Telomeres.
Types Of Meditation
There are many types of meditation. Christian Meditation, includes contemplative prayer and reading. Transcendental Meditation became popular around the 1960s and 1970s when rock stars and hippies joined the movement. Vedic and Yogic meditation has its roots in Hindu culture and is more commonly recognized as the OM meditation.
Metta Meditation from Buddhist tradition is known as the kindness meditation. Taoist Meditation has origins back to Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and an ancient teacher of Taoism. Qigong (Chi Kung) is a moving meditation that incorporates some martial arts moves while moving slowly to gain inner focus, it is much like Tai Chi.
Guided Meditation, is a more modern approach to meditation and a popular choice for those new to meditation. More accessible with busy lifestyles, it can be done with headphones and at home in a quiet area, or in bed while falling asleep.
The list of different teachings, practices, and methods is long. The one thing in common is attaining a peaceful and focused mind. Finding the type that fits your lifestyle and your goals may take some investigating and some practice, but the journey and the health benefits will be well worth it.
Images – deosum/bimdeedee © 123RF