Meditation is gaining mainstream acceptance as a beneficial preventative health program. It is one of the better-studied alternative therapies and has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits.More and more doctors are recommending meditation as an effective stress buster and useful support for patients with many types of chronic and acute conditions.The effectiveness of meditation comes from the fact that you can achieve a state of deep relaxation in just a few minutes. When you settle down into a state of deep relaxation, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This gives you many good effects that are both immediate and long lasting.Meditations and stress
Researchers have shown that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones. In particular, while meditating, your cortisol level drops ad stays low for hours afterward. Cortisol is one of the most important stress hormones. It is present in your blood in small amounts all the time, but when you experience stress, your body produces much more of it. A high quantity of cortisol can produce unhealthy and unpleasant side effects. Getting it out of your blood stream, in contract, has beneficial and positive effect.
Electroencephalograph (EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves associated with quite, receptive states and even further to levels not seen even during sleep.
This relaxed state combats anxiety and this is confirmed by research, which has found lowered levels of lactic acid in the blood. Another effect of meditation is that breathing slows, so the body uses less oxygen.
Another interesting, but well-known side affect of stress is weight gain. A high level of cortisol makes your body store extra fat in your abdomen and makes you crave fattening foods with extra intensity. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that stress in general is a “primary predicator of relapse and over eating”. They concluded that meditation is an effective method for managing the kind of stress that causes weight gain.
Meditation and Psychological benefits
When you meditate, you allow mental activity to slow down in a natural way while your alertness is maintained and indeed enhanced. After meditating, you will feel mentally refreshed. You will feel calmer; more relaxed and will have a greater sense of well-being. Benefits increase with regular practice.
Meditation leads to a feeling of being at ease with the world. Like many people who meditate you may find that you have a greater self-esteem, self-confidence and inner peace. You’re able to concentrate more easily and your ability to learn and remember will improve.
Meditation helps you to feel less anxious about issues that previously caused you stress, and many benefits arise out of a calm state of mind. You become a better listener and exhibit greater empathy, which in turn leads to closer and more fulfilling relationships.
Calmness brings with it the capacity for more accurate judgment and enhances problem-solving skills. Being calm results in having greater patience and tolerance and gives you the composure to act in a more considered and constructive way.
Studies on Meditation
A large body of research has demonstrated that meditation produces comprehensive improvements in mental health, enhancing positive features and reducing various forms of psychological distress.
A review of over 100 studies found that meditation was markedly more effective in reducing anxiety than other techniques. Meditation has also consistently been found to reduce depression, hostility and emotional instability, indicating the growth of a more stable, balanced and resilient personality.
In a review of over 40 independent research results, meditation was found to be effective in increasing self-actualization, an overall measure of positive mental health and personal development.
Further analysis revealed that the technique is exceptionally effective in developing three independent components of this dimension; emotional maturity, a resilient sense of self and a positive integrated perspective on the world and ourselves.
An exhaustive survey conducted by the Swedish National Health Board found evidence that psychiatric hospital admissions may be much less common among people practicing meditation than in the general population.
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