Meditation is an art that has been around for thousands of years. The ancients knew what the benefits were, and it was not a practice that only the “initiated” or the elite carried out. Common people meditated every day, along with holy men, and the result was not only greater productivity, but also a happier and more centered population. Modern day science has finally caught up with analyzing the health benefits of meditation, and the results of its investigations are very interesting.
Studies have shown that there are both physical and psychological advantages to practicing meditation regularly. Mentally, you can achieve greater focus and an ability to more effectively organize your thoughts. Quieting the mind allows for a greater connection to a higher consciousness, which can lead to enhanced self-awareness, and a feeling of connectedness to the whole. But you don’t need to have these lofty goals in order to benefit from meditation. Deep relaxation benefits the body whether you achieve spiritual enlightenment or not.
Both physical and emotional stressors take a toll on the mind and body. Prolonged states of stress can lead to inflammation which can, in turn lead to such things as heart disease and even asthma and skin conditions. Emotional stress can bring on agitation, anxiety, and exhaustion. Meditation can alleviate stress on both ends of the spectrum and eliminate systemic inflammation. It can also bring your mind into a state of emotional balance, where you feel centered and at peace.
Studies have shown that achieving a deep state of relaxation with meditation can actually lower your blood pressure, and slow your heart rate. This can decrease your risk of stroke, help with pressure headaches and even migraines, and keep your resting heart rate at a healthy level. Harvard University conducted a study that showed that meditation makes the body less responsive to stress produced hormones, in the same way that blood pressure medication does.
Boosted Immune System
A study at Ohio State University showed that progressive relaxation achieved through meditation actually aided the immune system and decreased the potential for a recurrence of breast cancer in women. This boosted immunity helps recovering cancer patients as well as activating “killer cells” that prevent viruses and tumors.
Feelings of Calm
When an unwanted thought arises in the consciousness and gets into the driver’s seat, it could make you distracted, unable to focus, and emotionally imbalanced. Meditation teaches the student how to be aware of thoughts, while allowing them to pass through the conscious mind without being emotionally disruptive. When you meditate it is common for negative thoughts to come up, but the practiced student knows how to acknowledge them and let them go without losing the state of relaxation.