Using Meditation To Improve Overall Health

The popularity of meditation has dramatically increased over the past decade as more people have become aware of the health benefits it provides.

Regularly meditating can improve your mood, help you relax, decrease stress levels, help you avoid many chronic illnesses, and much more.

In this article, we will share details of the many ways that meditation can improve your overall health and offer some tips for getting started.

Health benefits of meditation

Meditation can reduce your stress levels

Stress is a very common condition amongst people living in the UK.

It occurs whenever you encounter a perceived threat that you believe you cannot easily overcome.

The body will enter into flight-or-fight mode, releasing hormones that increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.

While in this stressed state, the way your brain works will change.

It will become more difficult to make fully informed, rational decisions and you will be more emotionally reactive.

The body also pushes more glucose into the bloodstream for energy.

Unfortunately, suffering from stress for an extended period can contribute to a range of chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and obesity.

Meditation helps by eliciting the opposite reaction to the flight or fight response.

It helps you to enter into a deeply relaxed state where your breathing and pulse become slower.

While in this relaxed state, your blood pressure will drop and your mood will become very calm.

Researchers have found that entering into a meditative state can reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol.

Meditation also helps you escape any repetitive thoughts that may be triggering your stress response in the first place.

Meditation slows age-related brain loss

A study by US and Australian researchers found that practitioners of mindfulness meditation had less age-related loss of brain tissue compared to people who didn’t meditate.

The study used magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 100 participants between the ages of 24 and 77.

The researchers suggest that more study is required to determine how effective meditation is at staving off age-related cognitive decline.

Meditation can help you sleep well

A recent randomised clinical trial performed in the United States found that meditation helped people suffering from sleep disturbances get a good night’s sleep.

The study looked at the sleep patterns of participants over 55 who were suffering from poor sleep quality.

Meditation can decrease pain levels

One of the unique benefits of meditation is that it can reduce perceived pain levels.

A study published in 2012 found that people who meditated regularly experienced less pain compared to those who did not.

This can be a very useful function of meditation if you are dealing with a chronic illness or injury that causes pain.

Meditation can decrease blood pressure

High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can contribute to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), increasing the risk of both heart attacks and stroke.

Fortunately, regular meditation has been shown to help address this dangerous condition.

A clinical trial involving almost 1,000 subjects found that the simple act of repeating a mantra reduced blood pressure by 5%.

Other studies have backed up these results, showing minor reductions in blood pressure after meditating regularly.

Researchers think that meditation can reduce blood pressure by relaxing the heart, slowing the breathing and making the subject less stressed.

Meditation can calm your mind and reduce the risk of mental illness

Having repetitive negative thoughts can contribute to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Meditation helps by calming your mind and helping you focus more effectively.

You will be able to shut down unwanted thoughts more easily and avoid the problems associated with negative self talk.

Meditation will also help you process traumatic emotional experiences and enjoy a happier life.

Meditation makes it easier to kick bad habits

If you suffer from a drug, alcohol, tobacco, or food addiction, meditation may be able to help.

It helps by making you resilient to the craving sensations that cause your addiction.

Other research has found that meditation can improve a person’s willpower, emotional reactivity, and impulse control, which makes it easier to tame an addiction.

The stress-busting characteristics of meditation also make it easier to avoid addictions that are related to stress.

How to use meditation to improve your health

Here is a simple meditation routine that will improve our overall health:

Step 1: Get comfortable

Sit in a chair or cross legged on a cushion.

Keep your back as straight as possible while remaining comfortable.

Step 2: Set a timer

Set a timer for your meditation session on your phone or on a clock.

This will prevent you from wondering “how long have I been meditating” as you attempt to meditate.

Having a timer will allow you to clear your mind and forget about the time.

If you are new to meditation, start with sessions of between 5 to 10 minutes.

As you become more used to the process, increase that to 10 to 20 minutes.

If you really develop a passion for meditation, you might have sessions that last for an hour or more.

Step 3: Focus on your breathing

Settle into your body and think about how it feels.

How much pressure is on various parts of your body?

Are you cool or warm?

What sensations are you experiencing in your muscles and on your skin?

After a couple of minutes, start to focus on your breathing.

Notice everything about the breath.

Think about how the air feels as it enters the nose and goes down the airway.

Think about your lungs rising and falling.

Think about the tiny pause between breaths.

Breathe naturally and in a relaxed way.

Step 4: Process thoughts as they appear

As you meditate, you will have unexpected thoughts pop into your head.

These thoughts can range from the banal (what do I need to buy at the shops today), to the unusual (what colour should I paint my house next year?).

Having thoughts pop into your head during meditation is inevitable.

Don’t judge yourself for having these random thoughts.

When they occur, simply label them and get back to focusing on your breathing.

So, if your thought is a concern about something you forgot to do, label it by saying to yourself “that’s just an anxious thought”, then focus on your breathing again.

Your ability to process the thoughts that pop into your head will quickly improve.

This will help you develop the ability to be less emotionally reactive and more conscious of your thoughts.

By gaining control over your mind in this way, you will see many positive changes in your life, ranging from more productivity to stronger relationships.

Once the meditation session is complete, have a quick stretch and get on with your day.

You will feel much more relaxed, happy, and healthy after your session.

Thanks for reading Using Meditation To Improve Overall Health.

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author: Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international and domestic tax consultant who specialises in solving complex problems. As well as advising on tax matters, Stephen also enjoys exploring topics relating to physical and mental wellbeing. You can follow him on Twitter at SColeclough.


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