In today’s fast-paced, rapidly advancing world, we’re all on the hunt for a miracle drug. We try essential oils, chakra healing, and many more pseudoscientific methods of improving our lives. Most of these practices are little more than ways to steal your money – all except one.
Meditation is the miracle cure that really does work. It can do everything from improve your mood and mental status to lower your blood pressure and help with pain control. Read on to learn more about the benefits of meditation and get some meditation tips.
What Is Meditation?
You’ve probably heard of meditation before, but it’s not always easy to understand what it is. In essence, meditation is mind-body practice that focuses on interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. Meditation can look like many different things, including walking, praying, knitting, or sitting quietly and focusing on the breath.
In general, most meditation practices have a few core elements. Meditation usually takes place in a quiet space with few outside distractions, with the meditator sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Most meditation sessions also include an open attitude, allowing thoughts and emotions to come and go, and a specific focus such as a mantra or the sensation of the breath.
Reduces Blood Pressure
One of the big benefits of meditation is that it can help decrease your blood pressure. When you stop to think about it, the idea makes sense; stress is a major risk factor for high blood pressure. Meditation helps you to better process your thoughts and emotions, thus lowering your stress.
In 2009, the National Institutes of Health funded a study looking at blood pressure among about 300 university students. The students, who were considered a group at risk for high blood pressure, practiced transcendental meditation. The study found that this meditation practice was effective in reducing their blood pressure, a finding that the American Heart Association corroborated.
Reduces Menopausal Symptoms
Because of the hormonal changes that happen during menopause, this period can come with a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Hot flashes, stress, insomnia, and muscle and joint pain are all common. Meditation and yoga can help mitigate some of these symptoms.
For many people, meditation and yoga are tied because of the focus on the connection between the brain and body in each. The calming effects of both of these can help deal with some of the stress and sleep issues. And the endorphins produced by yoga, as well as the gentle stretching and strengthening, can help deal with the emotional and physical challenges.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting nearly twenty percent of the population. One of the hallmarks of anxiety is overthinking or ruminating about problems. This sort of circular thinking ramps up anxiety levels, which in turn raises heart rates, causes nausea, and can trigger anxiety attacks.
Meditation is a great technique for managing both the general risk factors for anxiety and the more immediate effects. In daily life, having a meditation practice can help reduce stress, which can improve anxiety problems. In the midst of an anxiety attack, knowing how to practice mindful breathing can be helpful in calming the attack.
Helps with Pain Control
Pain control, especially for chronic pain, can be a major issue for sufferers. People with chronic pain can lose a lot of quality of life since they can’t participate in activities with their families or sometimes perform their jobs. Meditation can help alleviate some of those symptoms and make pain more manageable.
In effect, pain is a series of signals in the brain. Meditation can help activate certain areas of the brain that work to manage those pain signals. And because meditation does not rely on the opioids that occur naturally in the brain, some research suggests that combining methods that do make use of these opioids with meditation can be particularly effective for pain control.
Effects of Meditation on the Brain
The effects of meditation aren’t just some hippie, transcendentalist nonsense; there are actual, measurable effects on the brain. In 2012, one study looked at the brains of 50 adults who do not meditate and 50 adults who do. They found that the adults who meditated had more folds on the outside of the brain that allow you to process more information.
A 2013 study suggested that meditation can slow or even reverse some of the effects of aging on the brain. And another 2012 study showed that the amygdala (the part of the brain that processes emotions) is different in adults who meditate, even when they aren’t meditating at the time. It’s scientific fact; meditation changes the topography of your brain for the better.
How to Get Started Meditating
Meditation can seem intimidating to get started with; after all, how do you get into that magic zen state that has all these benefits? But as Eckhart Tolle said, “One conscious breath – in and out – is a meditation. All meditation is is taking time to sit down and focus on breathing and being present for a moment.
Find someplace comfortable and quiet, and get seated or lay down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes if you wish, and focus on your breathing – the sensations of air flowing in and out of your body and the rise and fall of your chest. Try to let any thoughts which enter your mind drift away again without judgement, like they’re floating away down a stream.
Find More Meditation Tips
Meditation is one of the few new-age healing techniques that really is all it’s cracked up to be. It can offer benefits for your physical, mental, and emotional health, and it’s easier than you think. Try to set aside just ten minutes a day to meditate, and you’ll be amazed at the results.
If you’d like to learn more about meditation tips and other forms of subconscious healing, check out the rest of our site at Motor City Hypnotist. David Wright has been practicing hypnotism in a clinical setting for more than two decades. Contact us today to set up a personal session.
Also, please check out this fantastic article about proper breathing from our friends at groomandstyle.com!