Everyone today knows at least one person who is experiencing the benefits of meditation. Long considered as a “For Monks only” occupation, the health benefits got more and more experienced around the world, and today, many studies actually suggest that the benefits are real, measurable, physically and mentally.
The first impact of meditation is to lower the overall stress. And this means a lot: it explains why studies show that it has an anti-inflammatory effect, relieves pain better than morphine and even helps offset the loss of ability with old age. That’s also why it helps heal all sorts of stress-related diseases.
Meditating for 20 minutes is equivalent to having a good 1.5 hour sleep, without the annoying “sleep hangover” that usually follows. It is time that gives you more time in the day, as it increases your productivity and efficiency.
More than 3000 scientific studies have been done on meditation, and these are the main health benefits that have been acknowledged:
The physical benefits:
- Decreases high blood pressure
- Relieves all stress components: tension in muscles and joints, muscles and joints pain, headaches, ulcers
- Helps for skin disorders
- Improves quality of sleep: you can sleep less and feel more refreshed
- Increases natural serotonin levels, having a direct impact on mood and behaviour
- Helps decrease and manage anxiety attacks
- Boosts immunity and helps fight diseases
- Improves gastro-intestinal distress, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Helps relieve arthritis, and can help prevent/heal fibromyalgia, infectious diseases
- Helps improve PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) and menopausal syndrome
The main mental health benefits:
- Increases compassion and social bonding
- Improves self-esteem and self-acceptance
- Improves emotional stability, decreases anxiety
- Develops intuition
- Improves Creativity and Focus
- Improves clarity and peace of mind
- Makes you happy
So what becomes clear with all of that?
Meditation does effectively change your physiology. It decreases your stress hormones level, and gives you this feeling of joy, peace and enthusiasm. You become more confident with yourself, and you just feel better and more alive. You discover that happiness comes from within.
To effectively experience all those benefits, meditation has to be a regular practice. The more you do it, the better you become at it, and the more benefits you experience. A study shows that after 20 minutes of practice, your cognitive skills increase significantly. People who did meditate became 10 times better at cognitive tests than the ones who didn’t. Scientifically, it has been proven that meditation thickens the cortex. We can see more gray matter widespread throughout the brain. Brain regions of attention and sensory processing get thicker. This is also why it decreases age-related brain atrophy.
Meditation has also been found to have a quite similar effect to caffeine. It gives you energy and boosts your productivity. But caffeine keeps you on a constant state of “fight or flight” response. This means that it puts you in a state of constant stress, that can be very harmful, especially in the long run. Therefore, whenever you feel down and you are losing your ability to focus, take 5-10mn to breathe deeply and meditate. The more you do it, the more you will really see the benefits.
Now that we understand all the benefits that can be expected from meditating, why not just do it,right? At the beginning, 3-5 minutes can already make the difference. Meditate in the morning, before checking your phone, your emails. This is time that you will gain back, and more, throughout the day. And do it again at night before sleeping. The more consistent you are at it, the more you will want to do it. I personally think that 20 minutes are a good minimum to really feel the difference. But if you are a complete beginner, you will feel it with less time. Just build it up slowly.
Some people like the silence, some others react well to deep relaxation music, or shamanic drums, or alpha, beta, theta sounds that help awaken your own consciousness. Just try them and see what works best for you. Have fun with it and let the magic happen.
In Love and Health,