Everyone seems to know that meditation is a good thing but they don’t really seem to know why. Most conclusions fall on that it’s good for being present, de-stressing, relaxing the mind and even finding happiness. But, meditation is actually much more than that and can improve your health in ways you wouldn’t even imagine! Here are few of the many ways in which meditation can improve your mind and body.
As well as helping control stress and anxiety, meditation can also help treat depression and other mood disorders by decreasing negative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs. It also helps to reduce panic disorder symptoms as well as increasing grey matter in the brain which is responsible for regulating emotions and creating the sense of self.
Meditation is also great for improving focus and the ability to work under high pressures of stress. Some evidence even shows that people who meditate have a thicker prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula which helps in retaining cognitive ability with old age. Along with this there is an improvement in information processing, mental strength and resilience against negative or painful emotions/memories. Some studies show that meditation can even be stronger than morphine.
Meditation also helps manage ADHD, improves learning, memory, memory recall, creativity, awareness and use of typically stagnant brain resources. They say that we only use about 10% of our brain. Well, meditation might be the key to unlocking the full 100%.
For more bodily issues, meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure and other psychosocial stress factors that can contribute. In a study done with 200 high-risk heart disease individuals, after 5 years of taking meditation classes, 48% had a reduction in their risk factor.
Meditation and mindfulness has also been found to decrease inflammatory disorders as wall as decrease inflammation in the cells. There have also been studies that show meditation as a benefit to helping prevent asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. For women specifically, it has been found to help treat premenstrual syndrome and symptoms of menopause.
Other disease that meditation training has been shown to reduce are Fibromyalgia, psoriasis and even possibly HIV. A study conducted at UCLA showed that meditation stopped the declining of CD4 T cells which are what control the immune system. HIV eats away at these cells leading to a weakened immune system and eventually death. But, after 8-weeks of meditation training participants were found to have a slower decline in CD4 T cells than participants who did not do meditation.
Meditation has been shown to help break addictive patterns and dependencies through self-control and awareness of what triggers them. By being present in every situation, you can learn to notice where your impulses stem from and then redirect them to healthier behaviors. This goes for any addictive substance like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and even food.
Through prolonged practices of meditation, it has been shown to change brain physiology to actually slow aging! This has to do with an increase in grey matter, as we’ve mentioned before. It also leads to slower degradation of bodily functions, such as the production of collagen which is important in maintaining skin elasticity and smoothness.
Along with all the benefits mentioned above, meditation has also been shown to increase healthier habits. You start to eat healthier and even exercise more. This has to do with the belief that you want to give your body good things that keep it happy and whole. The best part is, it isn’t even a struggle! Many people have a hard time cutting out sweets and junk food but through meditation you learn notice what your body likes and doesn’t like. And then it just becomes a simple matter of replacing candy with fruit and chips with vegetables!