Meditation has been around for many years and individuals practice for a variety of reasons. The benefits have been recognized by individuals who routinely meditate, but how about a little supportive science as well?
You got it! Read on for details.
How’s this for starters – UCLA completed a study that shows meditation preserves an aging brain. People who meditated for 20 years were found to have less loss of grey matter in the brain than those who never meditated. Grey matter is responsible for learning, memory, cognitive processes, attention, motor control, balance, precision, and coordination. Well that’s a pretty epic benefit!
Yale University found that meditation is very helpful in quieting a busy mind- I call this the hamster wheel brain- no fun for those who deal with this. Overactive minds can cause individuals to be less happy and struggle with constantly worrying about the past and future. Meditation allows one to utilize techniques to turn off the worry and find peace.
How about meditation reducing pain, anxiety and depression?
Johns Hopkins found that meditation can rival medications when it comes to managing these symptoms. In fact, it was point for point AS EFFECTIVE as medications for depression. Harvard’s recent study found this happens because meditation shrinks the cells in the amygdala- the part of the brain responsible for feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress. This in turn changes one’s subjective perception and feelings when in stressful or fearful situations and allows for less triggering.
How about struggles with addiction in your life?
The National Institute of Health found that those in a smoking cessation program who practiced meditation had significantly higher rates of success- both short and long term. It helped people manage cravings by retraining their brain to have a craving without giving in to it.
Finally, a study was conducted in Thailand on second year medical students (can we say stress?). Their cortisol levels (stress hormone) were measured at baseline and 4 days after completing a mindfulness/meditation program. After just 4 days, cortisol was notably lower leading the study to conclude meditation not only lowers stress but counteracts chronic diseases associated with stress.
Well I’m convinced on meditation and health, are you? I hope so. Let’s get started!
Here’s a few types of meditation to consider:
- Loving kindness meditation: This is helpful for those who struggle with anger, frustration, resentment and interpersonal conflict. This practice promotes compassion and love, for yourself as well as others.
- While breathing deeply, eyes closed, open your mind to receiving loving kindness. Then begin sending messages of loving kindness to the world, to specific people, or to your loved ones. It is important to repeat the message many times, until you feel an attitude of loving kindness.
- Body scan or progressive relaxation: Progressive relaxation, sometimes called body scan meditation, moves people through alternating tension and relaxation of body parts.
- It’s best to start at one end of your body and work your way up. The goal is to squeeze each section tightly for a few seconds then release fully. For example: forehead/face, neck/shoulders, arms/hands, abdomen, upper legs, lower legs/feet.This practice can promote calmness and relaxation, help with chronic pain and assist in drifting off to sleep.
- If you are an app person and want guidance, consider either Insight Timer or CALM – each of these are great options with a variety of options to choose from.
I will leave you with this:
This is Sanskrit for “a connection with the highest truth” and “vow”. In other words, it is a deep desire, an intention or a resolution. May you find connection with your highest truth through the practice of meditation.
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 “Seven ways meditation can actually change the brain.” 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#1525b4d31465
 “Gray and white matter: Structures and functions.” 2019, https://human-memory.net/gray-white-matter/
 “Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: results from a randomized controlled trial.” 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21723049
 “Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students.” 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724462
 “What is the best type of meditation.” 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320392.php#types-of-meditation
 “Insight Timer.”2019, https://insighttimer.com/
 “CALM.” 2019, https://www.calm.com/
 “What is sankalpa.” 2018, https://blog.ana-heart.com/what-is-sankalpa/