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Benefits of Meditation

Benefits of Meditation

Do you meditate? According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being”. Meditation, yoga and mindfulness have been the topic of discussion for some time now and the practice of meditation has increased in popularity within the mainstream health world over the last few decades. The 2017 National Health Interview Survey found the number of U.S adults that have practiced meditation in the past 12 months tripled from 2012 to 2017 (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2020).

Some popular types of meditation include mindfulness meditation, guided meditation, walking meditation, mantra meditation, spiritual meditation and movement meditation. Although there are many different types of meditation, they all have the common goal of calming the mind and bringing awareness to your breath and body. If you’ve never meditated before or are interested in starting a meditation practice, here are a few tips for getting started. 

You want to begin by finding a quiet location where you feel safe and comfortable, with as few distractions as possible. You may want to sit on a cushion on the floor, a chair or even on your bed. Make sure you’re comfortable sitting where you are for a few moments. Next, you want to choose a focus or intention- a chosen word, a set of words, an object, sensations of breath or your guided meditation recording. Start slowly, with just a few minutes a day and gradually you can increase your time. Set a timer, close your eyes and bring your focus to your chosen intention or method of meditation. 

 

Here are some more benefits of meditating regularly: 

  • Reduces pain, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, ulcerative colitis, inflammation and insomnia
  • Can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression 
  • Increases gray matter in the frontal cortex which is associated with working memory and executive function
  • Improves the function of the left hippocampus which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation

For more benefits of meditation and scientific research, and how meditation can benefit specific chronic conditions, check out this article. 

 

SOURCES:

Goleman, D., & Davidson, R.J (2018) Altered traits: Science reveals how meditation changes your mind, brain, and body

 

Hӧlzel, B.K. Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S.M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S.W. (January 1, 2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 191, 1, 36-43 

 

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2020). Meditation: In Depth, Retrieved May 29th, 2020 from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth

 

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