Mindfulness meditation is known to help the mind, but it is also scientifically proven to aid the body in a wide range of ways when practiced daily. Meditation is a practice that focuses the mind on observation and physical perception of the present moment. The act of placing attention on your body, mind, surroundings, and specific intentions has a profoundly healing effect on not only the mind but also the body. Thus daily meditation has many health benefits. To help comprehensively understand the restorative depths of this mindful tool, we’ve compiled a list of some of these physical benefits.
A study in 2013 from the Clinical Psychology Review indicates that meditation is an effective way to diminish stress. Another study from Carnegie Mellon University’s J. David Creswel shows that many of the physical benefits of daily meditation stem from stress reduction. Meditation relaxes the mind and body by lowering the stress hormone – cortisol. Ultimately, cortisol produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. Therefore, reduction of cortisol results in not only a reduction of mental stress but also a reduction of many physical ailments.
Managing anxiety or depression
Meditation’s focus on the present can help reduce rumination on the future and the past which can reduce the negative thought patterns that can fuel anxiety and depression. In 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine published a research analysis that indicated meditation can be part of a comprehensive mental health treatment plan to ease anxiety and depression. Additionally, an eight week study of mindfulness meditation showed meditation reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks.
Focus and concentration
Meditation, when practiced daily, is a strengthening exercise for your attention span. The act of focussing on intentions and the present moment helps increase the endurance and quality of your concentration. A 2007 study by University of Pennsylvania psychologists suggests that participants who consistently practiced meditation for eight weeks saw improvement in their ability to reorient and maintain their attention.
A study in 2018 says meditation can alter the brain receptors associated with drug and alcohol addiction, which may reduce cravings for substances. The mental discipline you can acquire from daily meditation makes it easier to identify and control addictive behaviors. Therefore, meditation makes individuals more empowered to choose a path diverging from their addictive thoughts.
Our reception of pain is linked to our emotional state of mind which means regularly practiced meditation, a habit that can change the mind’s relationship to its emotions, can help diminish our emotional reaction to pain. A study 2011 observed that participants who practiced meditation had increased activity in the centers of the brain that control pain when subjected to a pain stimulus. Meditation draws attention to physical sensations while intentionally detaching one’s identification from the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing.
In 2015, a study on meditation and improvement of sleep habits, posted in the JAMA International Medicine Network, showed that participants that practiced mindful meditation had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of six research sessions. Daily meditation trains your mind and body to tune into a stable, relaxed state, making bed time an excellent time of day to utilize mindful thinking skills.
Decreases blood pressure
Overtime, daily meditation can reduce strain on the heart by controlling blood pressure and relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels, and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations. A study from Harvard indicated that regular meditation showed a significant change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism.
Research shows that stress increases susceptibility to infections and diseases. When your body experiences inflammation from the fight or flight response that stress triggers, your immune system becomes weakened. Therefore, sustained meditation practice over time has proven to help increase the body’s immune system. Meditation helps to fortify the brain’s ability to relax and, ultimately, stress reduction is extremely beneficial to the immune system.
Daily meditation can provide an impressive list of health benefits and continues to be researched all over the world. Scientists, doctors, and psychologists are well aware of the many positive effects of meditation which means it is becoming far more common for a healthcare professional to prescribe mindfulness meditation to those suffering many different ailments. It is important to note that meditation is much more effective when practiced daily or regularly. So the next time you find yourself feeling under the weather, stressed, depressed or anxious, consider working meditation into your daily routine.
The Humandalas Technique
Meditation takes many forms which means it can look like different things. If you find yourself most engaged with group activity, you may consider Humandalas. Humandalas is a guided movement group meditation that uses intentional connection, toning, and visualization to get more in sync with others and nature.
In these meditations, individuals form a human mandala by getting into a circular pattern and physically connecting with one another. For people with anxiety, this exercise may help relieve the feeling of isolation that commonly accompanies anxiety. Humandalas are particularly powerful in channeling external energy and helping break through the confines of ego.
Caitlin is a writer from Burbank, CA. She uses writing as a medium to examine how far words can truly capture an authentic experience of life. Beyond writing, Caitlin is an artist. She’s currently exploring ceramics, illustration, fashion, production design and plans to work creatively in many more mediums.