The Many Benefits of Meditation
It can reduce stress, improve your health, and bring you more
peace of mind. That's just a short list of the many benefits
of meditation. A more detailed explanation of what meditating
can do for you can be found just below. It is noted when the
benefit claimed is based on scientific research and when it is
(so far) just the experience of those who meditate regularly.
Less Stress - This, of course was noted by regular
meditators for thousands of years. What the science shows is
that there is an actual lowering of the stress hormone cortisol
and also a lowering of lactate levels in the body. The amount
of adrenaline released into your blood also goes down when you
meditate. These effects are all indirect indicators of reduced
stress, but there are more direct benefits from reducing these
substances if the levels are too high in the body.
Slower Aging - Some research has shown that aging is
slowed when people meditate regularly. It is not certain why
meditation has this effect, but it's speculated that it's due
to higher levels of DHEA in meditators. Since low levels of DHEA
(dehydroepiandrosterone) are associated with a higher risk for
many diseases, including heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and
osteoporosis, there are potential benefits to high DHEA levels
beyond the anti-aging ones.
Reduced Irritability - Many people who have taken up
meditation report that they are not as irritable, and the effect
is not limited to the time spent meditating. The sense of calmness
cultivated apparently carries over to some extent into daily
Better Sleep - Many meditators report that they sleep
better when they are keeping up on their practice. Since meditating
regularly can lower ones metabolic and heart rate, it is thought
that these effects might contribute to more restful sleep. Both
effects could also be part of the explanation for slower aging
among meditators. A study at the University of Kentucky in Lexington
showed that meditation reduced the need for sleep, probably due
to the higher quality of sleep.
More Energy - It makes sense that if you sleep better
you will have more energy, and many who meditate report exactly
that effect. It also seems likely that the calming of the mind
reduces the fatigue that can come from too much anxiety.
Better Memory - Some have noted improved memory when
meditation regularly. This may be due to the reduction in cortisol
in one's body. Research done at the University of Edinburgh found
that even though cortisol is used in the formation of memories,
high levels can cause memory loss.
More Brainpower - A study done at the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte found a boost in cognitive abilities
in participants after just four days of meditation training and
Better Concentration - An Australian study found that
monks who had years of experience meditating could focus and
concentrate much better than the average person.
Control of Emotions - Research done at UCLA found that
naming emotional states during mindfulness meditations reduced
the strength of the emotions.
Higher Blood Oxygen Levels - Meditators have been found
to have higher levels of blood oxygen, which is thought to be
good for the health of the body and especially the brain.
Pain Relief - Several studies have found that 20 minutes
of meditation daily can relieve back pain and headaches.
Other Health Benefits From Meditation - Other effects
noted in various studies include lower blood pressure, lower
cholesterol levels, and a lessening of symptoms in those suffering
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