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Health Benefits of Meditation

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Health Benefits of Meditation

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Practicing meditation every day can bring inner peace and slough away stress. Read this article to know more about the health benefits of meditation.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At April 29, 2019
Reviewed AtSeptember 6, 2022

Introduction:

Anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression are the major problem these days. Meditation can be a solution to all these problems. It is essential to be calm and relaxed and then decide, not directly jump to a conclusion. Decisions are taken when angry can make a person repent later. This article deals with the types, elements, and health benefits of practicing meditation.

What Are the Types of Meditation?

Meditation is the best way to gain a relaxed mind and well-being. There are many meditation techniques with a primary focus on bringing inner peace. They are:

  • Guided Meditation: This technique is also called guided imagery or visualization technique, wherein the individual forms images of situations or locations in their mind that they find relaxing. The individual can also use senses such as sights, smells, sounds, and textures for meditation. A teacher or a guide can lead this type of meditation.

  • Mantra Meditation: This type of meditation involves the silent repetition of a phrase, word, or thought to prevent distracting thoughts.

  • Mindfulness Meditation: This type of meditation deals with living at the present moment with conscious awareness. It involves focusing on the experience during meditation, such as the flow of thoughts, emotions, breathing, etc., without judging them.

  • Transcendental Meditation: It is a natural meditation technique wherein you must repeat a mantra, word, or phrase in a specific way taught. This meditation does not require effort or concentration to achieve a state of relaxation and inner peace.

  • Yoga: In this type of meditation, postures and breathing exercises are performed to develop a flexible body and a peaceful mind. This meditation helps you focus on poses and breathing and distracts you from the busy day.

What Are the Most Common Features in Meditation?

There are some common features in all types of meditation. They are:

  • Focussing your attention on some image, mantra, or breathing helps to distract yourself from things that cause stress.

  • Deep and relaxed breathing exercises help increase oxygen consumption, breathe efficiently, and reduce the effort of shoulder, neck, and chest muscles while breathing.

  • Sitting in a quiet spot at the beginning of practicing meditation would help you feel calm. Then, as you get skilled in meditation, you can concentrate and meditate anywhere with few or many distractions.

  • Meditation has to be practiced in your comfortable position.

  • Focus on thoughts during meditation without being judgemental.

What Are the Ways to Practice Meditation Daily?

Do not stress yourself about meditating the right way. There are specific ways you can practice it on your own. And you can make meditation a part of your day. The ways you can choose to meditate are:

  • Breathe deeply.

  • Focus on breathing.

  • Scan your body while breathing.

  • Repeat a mantra.

  • Walk and meditate.

  • Engage in a prayer session.

  • Read sacred texts and reflect their meaning in your mind.

  • Be kind to others and feel connected.

What Are the Health Benefits of Meditation?

The health benefits of meditation are as follows:

  1. Promotes Sound Sleep: Everyone is so stressed with something or the other, from a nursery kid to a senior citizen. For example, a teenager might stress over a breakup, whereas a senior citizen might face stress due to severe loneliness because of their kids not visiting them. Stress is common in every age group, and it disrupts the sleep cycle of an individual. Practicing at least 10 minutes of meditation before bedtime might give you a nice and sound sleep if you have sleep problems. You can even practice meditation early in the morning after you wake up while concentrating on the sweet sound of chirping birds and filling your mind with positive thoughts.

  2. Makes You More Attentive and Improves Concentration Level: It is common for individuals to get distracted due to petty thoughts. Meditation helps an individual to focus better on things and builds concentration levels. We keep wandering over silly things, but by meditating, we learn to develop self-control and focus on the positive aspects of life. This helps in eradicating negativity from a person's life.

  3. Makes You Happier and Boosts Self-Esteem: According to many studies, it is seen that when a person practices meditation, the stress hormone cortisol levels go down, and the levels of endorphins increases, thus making an individual cheerful and happy. Always remember that we all have one life, so live your life to the fullest and do not let negative energy dominate you. You are in control of your mind, so do not let your mind control you. While meditating, tell yourself that you are beautiful, disease-free, fit, and healthy. See how smoothly your day progresses when you begin your day on a positive note.

  4. Impact on Diseases: According to many studies, meditation impacts disorders such as migraine headaches, hypertension, anxiety, depression, stress-related disorders, pain, and psoriasis. It improves the overall quality of ill individuals by making them physically and emotionally stable. Certain studies show they are as effective as medications in treating the above conditions.

  5. Breaks Bad Habits: Meditation is good at keeping you aware of your actions, which helps you break the bad habit.

  6. Reduces Inflammation: Chronic stress often creates inflammation in the body leading to disease of the heart, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. But meditation helps relieve stress, thereby reducing inflammation in the body. For example, meditation helps in relieving pain in individuals with arthritis.

  7. Promotes Mindful Eating: As we know, mindfulness is one feature we gain through meditation. This mindfulness helps in a conscious way of enjoying food when hungry and eating healthy, which maintains a healthy body.

Conclusion:

Do not compel yourself to sit for meditation. Instead, do it when you feel to, which eventually will start as a practice in your daily routine. And no matter your mind wanders during meditation, continue to focus and stay calm. There are no tricks to becoming expert in meditation. It all depends on your state of mind on that particular day. So keep practicing every day and reap its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Are Meditation and Mindfulness the Same Thing?

Meditation and mindfulness do not mean the same thing. Mindfulness is one aspect of meditation. Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique (such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity) to train the brain to become attentive and aware and achieve an emotionally clear and stable state of mind. Mindfulness is the quality, and mediation is the path to achieving mindfulness.

2.

Are Meditation and Yoga the Same?

Though yoga and meditation are both methods of exercise that can improve physical and mental health, they are not the same. Yoga is a form of exercise that includes performing various body postures to improve flexibility and holding poses to improve body strength. Meditation includes breathing and mind concentration exercises to help focus and calm the mind.

3.

Can Meditation Be Done After Eating Food?

It is advisable to practice meditation before having food as there are more chances of falling asleep while meditating. Also, empty stomach meditation should be avoided as the person may not be able to concentrate on meditation due to hunger pangs, irritability, and mood swings. Meditation can be performed one or two hours after meals.

4.

Can One Do Meditation During Periods?

Yes, meditation can be performed when a woman is menstruating. As meditation does not involve physical exertion but rather an exercise of the mind, it will not worsen period symptoms. Instead, it can help improve symptoms like irritability and mood swings and help regulate the body. There are no side effects or harmful effects of meditation during periods, and it is safe and can be done by pregnant women as well.

5.

Can Meditation Help With Anxiety?

Yes, meditation can help reduce anxiety symptoms and, with practice, help people overcome anxiety completely. Mindfulness meditation is the best meditation to help cure anxiety symptoms. Meditation can induce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. The process of meditation involves focusing your attention and eliminating the stream of jumbled thoughts that may crowd your mind and cause stress and anxiety. Meditation offers a therapeutic and often spiritual approach that avoids the side effects of anti-anxiety drugs, dependency on medications, and the complications of psychiatric treatments.

6.

Can Meditation Lower Blood Pressure?

Studies have proven meditation techniques could lower blood pressure levels to some extent. Doctors recommend practicing meditation twice daily for 15 to 20 minutes to keep blood pressure under control. Meditation can help calm the mind, reduce palpitations and undue stress on the heart, reduce heart rate and help prevent heart attacks in the future.

7.

Can Meditation Be Dangerous?

Though intense meditation may have negative effects on the person, the health benefits of meditation always outweigh the negative effects. People with underlying medical conditions and mental health issues should meditate under the supervision of a therapist or a yoga specialist.
People may experience
- Complete disassociation from their friends and family
- Complete disassociation from the world.
- Lack of motivation.
- Being lethargic.
- Enthusiastic meditators may experience involuntary movements, headaches, fatigue, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, and dizziness.

8.

Can Meditation Help You Lose Weight?

No meditation cannot help you lose weight as only meditation does not include any physical exertion, exercise, or any other form of cardio activity. Meditation is a mental exercise that helps to calm the body and focus the mind. To lose weight, aerobic and cardio activities should be performed.

9.

Should One Meditate Before Bed?

Meditating before bed is a good practice. Meditation can help improve your quality of sleep by enhancing the quality of your rest. Like exercise is equally important for our physical health, calming the mind is equally important for mental health. Some guided meditation techniques, listening to calm music, soothing your thoughts, and listening to meditation lectures can be beneficial to improve mental health conditions like anxiety, stress, and depression.

10.

Should People Meditate With or Without Music?

Meditation can be done with any type of music you want. It is a personal choice; however, meditating with music has benefited most people. Meditation with music has the following benefits.
- Music can help you to be more mindful and present.
- Music can help you to reduce anxiety and stress with ease.
- Music can help a person be calmer and happier.
- Music can also help one focus and improve concentration.
- Music is a form of relaxation therapy.
- Music can also help you have a peaceful time.

11.

How does Meditation Helps Mental Health?

Meditation has a lot of mental health benefits -
- Makes one more attentive and improves concentration.
- Releases happy hormones and boosts your self-esteem.
- Promotes sound sleep.
- Natural stress stabilizer and symptoms of anxiety.
- Calms the mind and relaxes the body.
- Gives a sense of healing and reduces depression.
- Helps deal with emotional turbulence and impulsive behaviors.
- Reduces symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Helps to overcome stress-related insomnia.
- Help control phobias, fears, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

12.

How does Meditation Improves Sleep?

Stress is common in every age group, and it disrupts the sleep cycle of an individual. Practicing at least 10 to 20 minutes of meditation before bedtime might give you a nice and sound sleep if you have sleep problems like insomnia, interrupted sleep patterns, and short sleep cycles. Meditation improves the quality of your sleep by reducing measures of arousal in the brain. It helps keep the mind calm and reduces hyperactivity of the brain.

13.

What Does Meditation Do to the Brain?

During meditation,
- The frontal cortex (part of the brain responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions, and self-conscious awareness) tends to go offline.
- The Activity in the parietal lobe (the part of the brain that keeps you associated with time and space) slows down.
- The Activity in the thalamus (part of the brain) is reduced,, which reduces the flow of incoming information in the brain. 
- The signals that tell the brain to be alert stop, thus reducing brain activity and calming the mind.

14.

Why Is Meditation Important?

Meditation is a great way to improve your mental health. In today’s world, increasing stress levels are causing early-age heart attacks too. It can help you feel more relaxed and relieve stress
- It can also cause insomnia when stressed, making one less productive at work. 
- Meditation practices, like yoga or mindfulness exercises like yoga breathing, can help alleviate stress and its effects on your body. 
- Prevents future diseases and mental health issues (depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder).
- Prevents cancer and cardiovascular diseases like stroke (heart attacks).
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Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina
Quadros Krystel Godfrey Lavina

Dietician

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