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The Benefits of Meditation

by Michael Teh

Daily meditation brings many benefits, and there are studies and research being conducted to prove the power of meditation. That said, let us understand better how meditation can help us in our daily lives.

“In addition, meditation may also help improve symptoms of stress-related
conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder,
and fibromyalgia.”

Today, more people are turning to meditation as it helps them to train their minds to focus and redirect their thoughts.

That said, let us look at 8 health benefits of meditation:

1. Reduces Stress.
In the world we are living today, stress is not something uncommon and because of stress, more and more people are turning to meditation as reliever.
When we are stressed up, both mentally and physically, it will increase the levels of the stress hormone cortisol which then produces many harmful effects of stress which include the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.
These effects may then disrupt your sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloud thinking. That said, according to a report by JAMA Internal Medicine, it stated that meditation does live up to its reputation as a stress reliever. In addition, meditation may also help improve symptoms of stress-related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

There are many styles of meditation that may help reduce stress, one style would be “mindfulness meditation”, In an 8-week study, mindfulness meditation helped to reduce the inflammation caused by stress.

2. Controls Anxiety
When meditation can reduce our stress levels, it will help to control our anxiety. As meditation helps calm the mind, it will also relax our thoughts and worries. In a meta-analysis that included nearly 1,300 adults found that meditation helped decreased anxiety and it was notably more evident to those with the highest levels of anxiety.

And if you do feel anxious constantly, I’d also recommend incorporating yoga and qigong in addition to your daily meditation practice.

3. Enhances Self-Awareness
Meditation may help us to develop a strong understanding of ourselves – to help you grow into your best self and achieve your self-realization. Through self-inquiry and self-contemplation meditation, it explicitly helps you to develop a greater sense of understanding of yourself and how you relate to the people around you. It also teaches you to recognize thoughts that are harmful and self-defeating
and to gain better awareness of your thought habits and the power to steer them towards more constructive patterns.

4. Lengthens Attention Span
Are you having difficulties staying focus especially at work? Do you know that when you meditate daily, you are actually working out and strengthening your attention span? In a study, it found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved attention and accuracy while completing a task, compared with those in a control group.

Meanwhile, meditation may even help reverse the patterns in our brains that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying and poor attention.
Having that said, I’d encourage you to meditate, even just for a short period each day as it will truly benefit you. Just commit 15 minutes daily to meditate and you’d experience its benefits.

5. Promotes Emotional Health
Imparting daily meditation to your lifestyle may also lead to an improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life. In one review, 3,500 adults who are undergoing treatment for depression, practiced mindfulness meditation, found that their symptoms of depression had improved.

6. Generates Kindness
In the world we are living in today, certainly there is a need for more kindness and compassion. However, many of us are bogged down and unhappy with life. So, how do we become kind and show compassion to others? Through meditation, of course. I’d would recommend Metta, the meditation that is known as loving-kindness meditation as it promotes kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself. We need to learn how to be kind to ourselves first before showing kindness to others. At the same time, it also increases positivity, empathy, and compassionate
behaviour towards others.

7. Improves Sleep
At some point in our lives, we would have struggled falling asleep/with insomnia. I’d contribute stress as one of the leading factors that keeps us awake all night and interrupts our sleep. In a study, it compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found people who meditated slept longer and had improved insomnia severity, compared with those without unmedicated control condition.

Additionally, meditation may help control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that could cause insomnia as well as help relax your body, releasing tension and placing yourself in a peaceful state in which will enable you to fall asleep.

8. Helps Control Pain
Do you know that pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can also be elevated in stressful conditions? There are studies that suggests that incorporating meditation in your lifestyle could be beneficial to control pain. In one review of 38 studies, it concluded that mindfulness meditation could reduce pain, improve quality of life and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain. That said, both meditators and non-meditators may experience the same causes of pain. However, meditators may have a greater ability to cope with the pain and even experienced a reduced sensation of pain. At the same time, meditation may help diminish the perception of pain in brain and it may help treat chronic pain when used to supplement medical care or physical therapy.

Source: Healthline.com

Michael Teh, 11th December 2020.