This is a guest post by Rhys McKay.
From the outside looking in, meditation doesn’t look like much.
However, meditation is so much more than just sitting quietly for a few minutes at a time. It’s about focusing your energies, breathing more mindfully, and clearing your thoughts.
The practice dates back thousands of years, but modern medicine has done hundreds of studies to back up meditation’s vast array of health benefits. Here are 8 of the best health benefits you can enjoy with regular meditation - backed by scientific evidence.
#1 Meditation Increases Your Life Expectancy
A study by the American Heart Association discovered that people who meditated could live longer than those who didn’t. Those who practiced meditation were less likely to suffer from fatal diseases or heart conditions, extending their lifespan beyond what was expected.
A separate study conducted at the University of California-Davis also concluded that meditation practitioners also had higher levels of telomerase which repairs the end structures (telomeres) of our chromosomes. As we age, the telomeres become shorter and less effective, which scientists believe causes aging.
#2 Meditation Gives You Better Sleep
While technological innovations like cable TV, mobile phones, and the internet have bettered our lives in so many ways, they’ve also added to the number of things that can distract us and keep us up at night.
Statistics show that about 30% of adults in the U.S. suffer from short term insomnia. 10% of us experience long term difficulty falling or staying asleep. We can trace a lot of physical and mental health problems to a lack of sleep, such as weight gain, heart disease, and depression, so it’s important to get enough sleep every night.
Meditation has been shown to help people fall asleep faster and get higher-quality sleep. Doing this daily helps you practice clearing your thoughts and going into a relaxed, peaceful state of mind before bed.
#3 Meditation Boosts Your Immune System & Keeps You Healthy
There’s more to modern medicine than hospitals, pills, and other medical procedures. Scientists have recently confirmed what meditation practitioners have known for years: meditating regularly can protect you against diseases and strengthen your immune system.
This study found that the participants who meditated produced more antibodies than those who didn’t. Another study also determined that mindful meditation and breathing could reduce stress-related immune responses.
Meditation has been proven to be an effective preventive and treatment practice to fight against a multitude of brain and heart diseases. It can even help slow down the progression of HIV.
#4 Meditation Reduces Stress, Anxiety, And Depression
Stress affects all of us in many different, negative ways. We spend a lot of time combatting and preventing the effects of stress from overwhelming us. Stress relief is actually the most commonly cited reason for people trying out meditation in the first place.
Research has proven that meditation reduces stress-related inflammation and promotes a more positive mood. This was found to be the case whether the participant was neurotypical or non-neurotypical. This means that it doesn’t matter if you have diagnosed anxiety/depression or not, you can still benefit from incorporating meditation into your daily routine.
#5 Meditation Helps With Memory Loss
Do you have problems with remembering things, whether its due to age, disease, or just simple forgetfulness? Regular sessions of meditation can help sharpen your mind.
Over a dozen studies confirmed that different kinds of meditation can boost attention span, improve mental clarity, and enhance mental quickness in older patients. Another set of researchers agreed that it helps fight age and disease-related memory loss, such as with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Even if you are young and healthy, taking some time to meditate throughout the day can still improve your mental acuity and prevent memory loss further down the line.
#6 Meditation Lowers Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the culprit behind a myriad of health problems. It’s been linked to strokes, heart attacks, and generally poor heart function.
Thankfully, meditation benefits you and your heart. Even just by repeating a word in your mind and focusing on it, you can your reduce blood pressure by an average of five points, according to this study. Researchers believe this is because meditating can relax the heart and reduce tension in the blood vessels, allowing for better blood circulation. Effects are immediate but can also build up over time to prevent heart disease in the long run.
#7 Meditation Combats Addiction
Addiction is both a physical and mental affliction. When someone is addicted—whether it’s to cigarettes, alcohol, video games, or anything else—they find it harder to control their cravings and avoid making impulsive decisions.
One study found that smokers who practiced mindful meditation were 36% more likely to quit smoking after a weeks-long program compared to only 15% of those who didn’t. Out of those who did quit, 31% of the meditation group remained smoke-free after 17 weeks, compared to 5% of the control group.
Meditation can help with all kinds of addiction because it allows people to take control over their thoughts and emotions. This gives them the self-awareness and willpower to avoid indulging in addictive behavior.
#8 Meditation Helps to Regulate Pain
Many people think pain happens in your body, but actually, pain happens in the mind! When you stub your toe or accidentally close the door on your hand, your nerve endings send a signal to your brain. Your brain interprets the signal as pain and causes that part to hurt.
The next time you’re in pain, try meditating. Science says that not only will you redirect your attention away from the pain you’re feeling, but you’ll also feel less pain overall. Researchers monitored participants under an MRI and discovered that those who meditated had increased activity in the parts of their brain that are known for pain control.
Meditate Your Way To A Healthier You!
If you want to take care of your body, mind, soul, and spirit, meditation is a great way to do so. There are so many benefits to meditation that are backed up by research. The best part? You can do it anywhere, it’s free, and there are absolutely no negative side effects.
Rhys McKay is an SEO Copywriter & Content Strategist from North Perth, Western Australia. He understands the subtle nuances and tone that can make or break great copy. And Rhys is able to integrate keywords naturally, so your content doesn’t end up sounding like some barely comprehensible Google Translation. Contact him on FaceBook.
Rhys started an SEO Copywriting Facebook Group. Join here!
He's also a photographer. See his work on Unsplash.
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