Let’s face it….even though meditation is becoming more socially acceptable, it still seems a little “woo woo” to some. But meditation is really a chance for use to slow down and be quiet for awhile. And considering the amount of noise we are immersed in every day, that is really rare. The amazing benefits you can experience are great reasons to learn more about meditating!
April is stress awareness month, and so it’s a good time to shine a spotlight on something that is affecting so many people on such a profound level. The truth is, we are all pretty darned stressed out. And being chronically stressed has become so common that most people just accept that they should feel that way, that it’s the status quo. But it’s not. Our bodies were not designed to live in the midst of a constant stress response and because of that, stress related illnesses are skyrocketing. But you do have the power to take control of your life and to reduce your stress in order to protect your health. And there are some simple solutions that you can use every day to manage your stress more effectively.
When it comes to living your life intentionally, one of the best practices you can do daily is to meditate. Most people are unaware of how powerful the benefits of meditation are, not only for their health, but for their sense of well being as well. Meditating for 15-20 minutes twice daily can create profound change in a person’s life, and they can begin to experience the benefits from the very first day that they meditate.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you should meditate daily.
- It is one of the easiest and best ways to reduce stress. Stress has a huge impact on our health. In fact, stress contributes to more than 50% of all illness, and between 70-80% of all doctor visits are directly related to stress. And yet, few people actively participate in a regular stress management program of any kind. Regular meditation can reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline by as much as 50% in only a few weeks.
- It boosts your immune system. When you meditate regularly, it increases activity in the regions of the brain that help to control your immune system. This allows your immune system to function more efficiently, helping you to ward of viruses and bacteria more easily.
- It will increase your productivity. A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Washington found that workers who were given a meditation training course, performed better while doing basic office tasks like checking email, word processing and messaging. They also showed reduced stress levels and had better memory and increased focus.
- It boosts mood. Multiple studies have been done on the benefits of meditation on mood, and it has shown that meditating regularly can benefit those who struggle with anxiety and depression, and is as effective as many medications used regularly for people struggling with both mood disorders.
- It reduces stress. Stress is a problem for most people in modern society because of increased time demands of busy schedules. If stress becomes chronic however, it can lead to illness, so managing stress regularly is vital to maintain a healthy body. Meditating for as little as 10-15 minutes a day can significantly reduce stress levels, which ultimately can help to prevent stress related illness from occurring.
- It reduces pain. In clinical trials, mindfulness meditation has show to reduce chronic pain by as much as 57 percent. Those who are accomplished at meditating can experience a reduction of pain by as much as 90 percent. Studies where they have done scans of the brain have shown that meditation soothes the pain centers of the brain, and more doctors are prescribing meditation to patients with chronic pain. In fact, meditation may be more powerful than common pain relieving drugs like morphine.
- It boosts creativity. Meditating regularly stimulates the neocortex of the brain, which is where creativity comes from, so stimulating it can promote more creativity and innovation. In fact, Walt Disney understood this and was one of the first proponents of meditation in the workplace.
- It reduces risk of heart attack and stroke. A 2012 study of African Americans with heart disease found that those who practiced Transcendental meditation regularly were 48% less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or to die from all causes. This was compared to another like group that regularly attended a health education class. The reduction of stress and stress related chemicals seems to help the heart.
- It reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. A recent study of adults with mild cognitive impairment showed that those who meditated daily for 15 to 30 minutes showed a showing of the progression of the decline. Eight weeks later, there was marked improvement in cognition and a greater sense of well being among participants in the study. Typically, up to 20% of those with mild cognitive impairment wind up with full blown dementia, but meditation can improve this. Also, Alzheimer’s disease affects the same areas of the brain that were helped by meditation, so there is hope that meditation can improve cognitive function for Alzheimer’s patients as well.
- It can help you live longer. Meditating regularly can help to increase your lifespan. It does this first by significantly reducing chronic stress, which can help you to avoid stress related chronic illness. Experiments have also shown that regular meditation may also protect our DNA which can also increase longevity.
I’ve worked with various forms of stress management with clients over the years, and by far, the most effective overall is meditation. While other forms of stress management are good to be used along with regular meditation, if you only have time for one type of stress management, then learning to meditate is going to give you the greatest benefit. Meditation will reduce stress for a longer period of time after practicing it as well.