Rediscovering the Benefits of Meditation

 

In today’s fast-paced world, individuals are increasingly turning towards ancient practices as a means of relieving stress. Of all the methods available for relaxation, the benefits of meditation are becoming more and more appealing to people.

Meditation, known for its ability to calm the mind and enhance intuition, is not only used for reflection and clearing the mind but also as a means of healing various mental, emotional, and physical illnesses.

Benefits of Meditation for Physical and Mental Health

One of the most celebrated benefits of meditation is its ability to improve one’s physical health. Meditation reduces the metabolic and heart rates, leading to a deep rest for the heart. Additionally, it is known to decrease cortisol levels and eliminate chemicals associated with everyday stress. Meditation also reduces the amount of free radicals in the body, lowers blood pressure, increases skin resistance, lowers cholesterol levels, improves lung airflow, delays biological aging, and raises DHEAS levels in older individuals.

Meditation also has significant psychological benefits. It increases brain wave coherence, decreases anxiety, irritability, depression, and mood swings, improves memory and learning ability, promotes self-actualization, increases feelings of youthfulness and vitality, promotes positivity and joyfulness, and improves emotional stability.

Additional benefits of meditation for individuals and communities include:

  1. Relaxation of the body, mind, and soul.
  2. Rejuvenation of energy for facing challenges and stress.
  3. Healing of illnesses associated with the mind and body.
  4. Increased emotional stability.
  5. Development of relaxed family life and positive outlooks in younger individuals.
  6. Improved ability for mental function.
  7. Discovery of inner creativity.
  8. Freedom from vices and addictions such as alcohol and drugs.
  9. Increased self-confidence and willpower.
  10. A safe and effective way to discover oneself.
  11. Enhancement of mental power.

While the benefits of meditation are numerous, individuals should be aware of potential side effects if not used properly. Those serious about practicing meditation should consult a professional before attempting any techniques.

Effects Of Meditation

The practice of meditation has been studied by Western scientists since the 1970s, and it has been observed that signs of stress such as heart rate and perspiration decrease as the meditator relaxes. Over time, researchers such as Richard Davidson, PhD of the University of Wisconsin, have also investigated the long-term effects of meditation.

Davidson was invited by the 14th Dalai Lama to study the brains of Buddhist monks, who are considered to be the foremost meditators in the world. He traveled to India with advanced equipment and initiated an ongoing project in which monks meditate while their brain activity is recorded to understand how they regulate emotional reactions.

Engaging in any activity, including meditation, can create new neural pathways and strengthen certain areas of the brain. Harvard neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn has noted that this phenomenon is consistent with the neuroscience literature of expertise.

Monks practice three forms of meditation: focused attention on a single object for extended periods, cultivating compassion by transforming negative emotions into positive ones, and “open presence,” which involves being aware of present thoughts, emotions, and sensations without reacting to them.

Davidson wanted to investigate the effects of meditation on novices, so he conducted a study with 41 employees at a biotech company in Wisconsin.

Twenty-five participants learned “mindfulness meditation,” a stress-reducing technique that promotes nonjudgmental awareness of the present, and were asked to meditate for 60 minutes a day, six days a week.

Brain measurements were taken before and after the eight-week period of instruction, as well as four months later. Results showed increased activity in the left frontal region of the brain, which is linked to reduced anxiety and positive emotions.

In addition, the meditators had more antibodies against the flu virus than non-meditators when tested after receiving flu shots, indicating an enhanced immune response.