Meditation is about training the mind to become calmer, more focused and at peace. Many more people are actively engaging in meditation techniques than ever before and they are certainly reaping the rewards. Interestingly, meditation has been shown to actually cause changes to the structure of the brain, when practised regularly. The worrisome ‘fight or flight’ area of the brain, the amygdala, shrinks and the area responsible for awareness and concentration gets thicker. These changes allow the brain to focus and not get distracted by anxious thoughts and worries. It is fascinating that something so easy to incorporate into your daily life can have such a profound impact.
Meditation has many scientifically proven benefits to both your physical and emotional wellbeing.
How can meditation improve my physical wellbeing?
- Increase your attention span and ability to process information
- Improve your decision making ability, critical thinking and reduce age-related memory loss
- Slow the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, which will increase your immunity, making you better able to fight illnesses
- Enable you to clear your mind, which will improve the quality and quantity of your sleep
- Improve your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
- Reduce your metabolic rate, allowing the body to spend more time in a restful, restorative state, similar to when we are sleeping
- By decreasing the levels of cortisol, it can help to balance other hormones in the body
- May help to improve certain health conditions, for example, asthma and heart problems. This is especially true in the case of health conditions linked to stress
- May help to reduce the effects of aging. By reducing stress and thus cortisol levels, meditation will also reduce oxidative stress on our cells. Oxidative stress is responsible for the ageing of cells in our body
- May help to control pain levels in chronic pain sufferers. By changing the way our brain processes pain over time, clinical trials suggest we may be able to reduce chronic pain by up to 57%
How can meditation improve my emotional wellbeing?
- Reduce levels of anxiety and/or depression by helping to break negative thought patterns and obsessive thinking. As mentioned previously, meditation can change the structure of your brain to change the way that you respond to stress in the future. Our thoughts are all controlled by neural pathways in the brain, so by changing these pathways we can learn to better control our thoughts
- Help you to connect more with people and nature, by encouraging you to focus more on the present moment and the people around you
- Reduce stress and tension
- Improve confidence and self-esteem
- Increase compassion and empathy
Given that you are able to meditate anywhere and at any time, meditation is something that you can keep in your toolbox to help you to deal with the stresses and strains of daily life. In order to gain the most from meditation, it is important for you to practise regularly, until it becomes part of your daily routine, your time to relax!