7 Natural Health Benefits of Making Time To Meditate Everyday
What if I told you that you have access to a tool that could essentially give you superpowers?
A few of these superpowers include better concentration, lower stress levels, and an overall clearer mindset.
The best part is that this tool is immediately accessible at any time at any place. You’ve likely heard meditation being touted as a magic fix-all tool in the health and spirituality communities, and for good reason.
We often put ourselves in a wonderful dystopia of scattered thoughts, latent stresses, and otherwise poorly channeled energies. Few recommendations are better than meditation for these woes purely because meditation is able to tackle all of them at once, and is so simple to get started.
Significantly Decrease Stress Levels
Have you ever heard of Boiling Frog Syndrome?
The premise is that if a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling water, it will instinctively jump out. If a frog is dropped into a pot of cool water that gradually increases in temperature, it will stay in until it is boiled alive. Since the change in temperature is so gradual and nearly imperceptible, the frog doesn’t immediately perceive the danger ahead.
Humans are very subject to Boiling Frog Syndrome. Humans have a natural propensity to get stressed, and much of this stress is hard to recognize at first. A sudden stressful event like a car accident or loss of a loved one is clear to pinpoint for a sudden increase in stress levels. A more subtle factor, such as a career that is no longer fulfilling, is very hard to pinpoint.
These minor stressors add up, and without proper self-care, can have a lasting effect on the human brain. Meditation offers us a perfect solace to check in and distance ourselves from the daily storm of things that may or may not be stressing us out. By bringing down stress levels, we are able to gain more perspective on what is causing us stress, and make less erratic decisions that will ultimately benefit us in the long run.
2. Supercharge Your Brain
A 2011 Harvard study published in the Psychiatry Research journal found that participants who had no previous experience with mindfulness training showed a significant increase in gray matter. This study found that in just 8 weeks, brain size increased in the left hippocampus (responsible for learning ability and information retention), the posterior cingulate cortex (responsible control of how your mind wanders), and the temporo parietal junction (responsible for empathy)
The growth of gray matter in different brain regions helps to give your brain a boost in everything from emotional regulation, learning capacity, and memory. The key to seeing these benefits is to commit to and extended meditation practice that spans multiple weeks. The time you take to meditate every day adds up and allows your brain to build this helpful gray matter.
3. Slow Down Aging
A study by Sara Lazar, a researcher at Harvard University, found that meditation can change brain physiology to slow aging. Since meditation can add gray matter and more brain cells, meditators are able to preserve cognition at a much better rate than non-meditators.
Reference Source [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361002/]
Meditators also have longer telomeres (the caps on chromosomes that show the biological age). To say that meditation can lengthen life may not have sufficient evidence (yet), but the stress reducing and cognitive benefits of meditation allow meditators to live more fulfilled lives.
4. Improve Your Overall Health
Meditation can naturally reduce the stress chemical cortisol. This chemical is released during the “fight or flight” response, that is often triggered by daily stressors. Unnatural levels of cortisol can interfere with memory and learning, immune function, blood pressure, bone density, and can even cause heart disease.
Along with exercise, meditation is one of the only other ways to naturally reduce cortisol. This reduction in cortisol not only allows us to live happier lives, it also prevents us from exacerbating or influencing negative health conditions.
Reference Source [https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1]
5. May Decrease Need for Sleep
Sometimes getting a full 8 hours of sleep is tough for some people. Strenuous careers can ask a lot from us while we are working, as well as when we’re at home. Meditation isn’t exactly a sleep replacement, but studies have found that it helps to people get more out of the sleep they do get.
Reference Source [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2919439/]
Research at University of Kentucky found that meditation provides a short-term performance improvement, even in beginners. In the long-term meditators, multiple hours spent in a meditative state were associated with a significant decrease in their total time spent sleeping.
6. Reduce Blood Pressure
Clinical studies have found that regular meditation among ⅔ of high blood pressure patients helped to drop their blood pressure significantly after three months of meditation. With lower blood pressure comes less of a need for medication. The relaxation from the meditation helps your body form nitric oxide, which in turn opens up your blood vessels.
A reduction in blood pressure also helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy, putting less of a strain on your heart and keeping you at a lesser risk for heart disease.
Reference Source [http://www.npr.org/2008/08/21/93796200/to-lower-blood-pressure-open-up-and-say-om]
7. Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s
A study published in the brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal found that only 30 minutes of daily meditation reduced a sense of loneliness, as well as the risk of a myriad of different woes including heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s.
Reference Source [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249181.php]
Many meditators recommend starting off with an intense focus on your breathing. There are also several other ways that can help get you in a calm and more tranquil state. Essential oils, for example, can help your body to naturally calm down and relax your brain, thus making it easier to succumb to a meditative state. Essential oils can be used in an incredibly wide variety of ways, start here with this Guide to Using Essential Oils for some ideas of how to begin – from aromatherapy for meditation, to calm topical applications for muscle tension relief, these are just some of the potential benefits.
The above benefits are only a handful of what meditation could possibly do for you. While it is very easy to get started, it is just like any other habit and takes some consistent practice in order to see improvements in your ability as well as these natural health benefits.