Meditation is the practice of relaxation, concentration and invaluable conscious observation, which develops the ability to soberly and impartially look at yourself and the world around you. Why is it so important to turn off the autopilot and start to enjoy the moment, but at the same time, how to do it right, if you haven’t done anything like this before?
Benefits for physical and mental health
Meditation can reduce the cost of medical services. Studies by the Center for Health System Analysis have shown that people who practice meditation for more than a year spend 11% less on medical services. Those who have practiced mind awareness for over 5 years have 28% lower medical bills.
According to a study published in The Annals of Family Medicine, the people who practice regular meditation have a 40% -50% lower risk of ARVI. As the blood analysis of the study participants showed, daily meditation helps to reduce the level of inflammatory processes in the body and, accordingly, the risk of serious diseases.
In addition, regular meditation practices normalize blood pressure and help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Effective stress reliever
Scientists from the University of California found that meditative zen helps lower the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Participants of this study were asked to fill out special questionnaires. Having analyzed them, scientists were able to assess the level of awareness of the respondents “before and after” an intensive 3-month retreat. The results of the study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, showed that the participants returning from a retreat with a higher level of awareness had significantly lower levels of cortisol.
Despite the fact that the study lasted for long 3 months, the scientists claimed that relieving stress through meditation would take much less time. So, the people who attended 25-minute meditation trainings for 3 days and were trained to focus on breathing and presence in the moment, felt more calm and balanced when they were set stressful tasks.
Help to fight depression and anxiety
Meditation effectively fights the feelings of increased anxiety and depression. This is the conclusion made by scientists from Johns Hopkins University, who published the results of their research in the journal Social Cognitive and Emotional Neurobiology. Scientists have analyzed about 20 thousand studies on the benefits of meditation.
It turned out that meditation affects the activity in two specific parts of the brain: the anterior cingulate cortex, which is responsible for thinking and emotions, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which controls the state of anxiety. After a 20-minute meditation, the level of anxiety of the participants decreased by almost 40%.
Help to reduce overweight
Maintaining a stable weight is an unexpected advantage of meditation, especially if you are frivolous about eating and tend to “eat” more when fighting stress.
A study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that curvaceous women who were trained in sensory eating and meditated 30 minutes a day were more likely to lose weight. Awareness makes us more conscious about our choice of food, paying attention to its composition, appearance, aroma, texture and taste. This helps us to abandon useless snacks and empty calories, maintaining weight in a healthy state.
An interesting study was published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. It turns out that meditation makes it much easier to quit smoking. The smokers who meditated for only half an hour a day for 10 days in a row had 60% less craving for cigarettes than those who were just taught to relax. Moreover, the smokers did not take part in the experiment to get rid of the addiction, so they did not even try to intentionally reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Quitting smoking occurred on its own, without much effort.
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the use of meditation techniques was more effective than such traditional methods, allowing a person to fall asleep, as limiting exposure to light at night and giving up alcohol before bedtime. Moreover, meditation was no less effective than sleeping pills. In addition to a full night’s sleep, regular meditation exercises help you avoid fatigue during the day.
Regular practice of meditation can improve almost all aspects of your professional life. The research conducted by the University of Washington showed that after an 8-week course of meditation, office workers were more energetic, perceived work routine less negatively, and focused more effectively both on one thing and on performing several tasks simultaneously.
We all have the so-called “blind spot” when it comes to our own emotions, behavior and thoughts. Awareness and presence help expand the boundaries of our internal vision.