Lifestyle

Benefits of Meditation

While we all know that meditation has several health benefits, few are aware that it can also boost your productivity. Meditation relaxes your mind and helps you to improve your focus – two of the most essential requirements for better productivity.

Derek Jeter, Misty-May Trainor, Michael Jordan, Russel Simmons, Rupert Murdoch and several other well-known figures rely on meditation to get into the zone and perform better.

The health benefits of meditation are so many that you cannot afford to miss out on this free health practice. You don’t need to be a zen master to experience its benefits; even a few minutes of mindfulness can leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.

You also don’t need to adopt a lotus pose and worry that everyone will notice your posture. You can do meditation discreetly without anyone even knowing about it.

The following incredible health benefits of meditation will surely convince you and motivate you to start doing it today.

1.   Reduces Stress

Due to our hectic lifestyles, there may be times when we get overwhelmed with stress and find ourselves unable to continue. You can do something about it by meditating.

Meditation is a very effective way of reducing stress and bringing down anxiety that prevents you from realizing your full potential.

According to one study, practicing meditation over a long period of time can induce several permanent changes in your brain. Researchers from the University of Madison Wisconsin used brain scanning to find out that practitioners of meditation had favorable permanent changes in the brain structure. In other words, the evidence suggests that meditation can produce real physical changes in your brain. Expert practitioners were found to have increased activity in parts of the brain associated with executive function, emotion and reasoning ability. (1)

A major finding of this study was that experienced meditation practitioners had significantly reduced activity in the amygdala – the part of the brain associated with emotional reactivity. Thus it appears from the evidence that meditation may help to reduce stressful responses in the brain thus possibly lessening anxiety.

2.   Improves Well-Being and Quality of Life

One study suggests that regular meditation practice can improve your quality of life, sense of well being, sleep patterns, respiratory function and cardiac function. In addition it can reduce depression, anxiety and stress and even help with recovery against addiction. (2)

It appears that meditation can bring in many desirable changes in our health and keep us safe or at least reduce the severity of debilitating mental conditions like anxiety and depression.

3.   Enhances Focus

Almost everyone would like to have sharp focus for better performance and productivity.

The results of studies show that meditation can produce noticeable changes in short term working memory and cognitive function. Even 10 minutes a day of meditation can induce these changes. According to researchers, meditation helps the brain to increase its efficiency – that is, it helps you to perform the same tasks with less mental strain. Participants showed improved performance in tasks that require cognitive abilities. They displayed better focus and a longer attention span. (3) (4)

There are several more studies which show that mindfulness meditation training can help to improve executive function and working memory in adults and children alike. One study even showed that both 5th graders and college students display similarly improved cognitive function and enhanced working memory after undergoing a few weeks of mindfulness meditation training. Researchers found that meditation could improve the brain’s response to stressful stimuli and alter mood. This was made possible with just a few days of transcendental meditation that lasted for 15 to 20 minutes each day. Other positive health changes include reduced pain sensitivity, less anxiety, lower heart rate, better performance in tasks requiring sustained focus and higher verbal fluency. (5)

4.   Boosts the Immune System

Meditation techniques of all kinds ranging from mindfulness to yoga may result in a healthier immune system. A stronger immune system improves your ability to resist infections, bacteria and viruses.

In one study, 25 office workers underwent 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training. Researchers also performed tests on a control group at the same time intervals to ascertain improved responses if any, in the meditation group.

Both groups then received influenza vaccines at the end of the 8 week program to study the response of the immune system. The meditation group showed a significantly better immune response to the vaccine and produced more antibodies than the control group. There was also an improvement in the left-sided anterior activation which can produce positive effects on mental health. The researchers concluded that meditation may improve both mental and immune function in those who meditate daily. (6)

5.   Better Cardiovascular Function

one study sought to investigate the effects of transcendental meditation on the incidence of coronary heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Both conditions are strongly related and metabolic syndrome can lead to heart disease.

One group of 103 participants with stable coronary heart disease underwent 16 weeks of transcendental meditation training. There was also a control group that received education on heart health. Researchers followed various health parameters of both groups over the course of the study.

The TM group recorded significantly better changes in blood pressure, insulin resistance and heart rate variability as compared to the control group thereby indicating improved cardiovascular health. As a result of these findings, researchers recommended further study into the efficacy of transcendental meditation as an adjunct to conventional heart treatment. (7)

The Journal of the American Heart Association published a review study in 2017 that investigated the effects of mind-calming meditation on heart health. The review study scrutinized dozens of research papers published over the past 2 decades on this subject. Researchers concluded that meditation practices can indeed improve factors related to heart health.

The lead researcher stated that meditation can enhance heart function and also improve the quality of life. Practitioners of meditation have an improved outlook on life and are also involved in other heart-healthy practices like taking regular exercise, adequate sleep and a healthy diet. (8)

You should make it a point to include this practice into your daily routine as it is free and has tremendous benefits.

References

(1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944261/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/

(3) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-32046-5

(4)http://theconversation.com/mindfulness-meditation-ten-minutes-a-day-improves-cognitive-function-103386

(5)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/42975499_Mindfulness_meditation_improves_cognition_evidence_of_brief_mental_training_Consciousness_and_Cognition_An_International_Journal_19_597-605

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106

(7) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/410453

(8) https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/mindfulness-can-improve-heart-health

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