Over the last few decades, people, those in the Western world in particular, have become more interested in ancient knowledge and practices. They feel that modern times has created too much stress on the individual. As a result a desire to find some relief from the stresses of our modern, high-speed, multi-tasking existence, more and more of us are looking into the benefits of meditation.
While I do know quite a bit on the subject, I cannot say that I am an "expert" on meditation in the sense of having studied it intensely or participated in structured research. However, since I first began learning about it and practicing it on my own as a teenager in the early 1960's, I have continued to practice meditation regularly, in various manners, and continue to study it even today.
Like me, because of its effectiveness in calming the mind and body, while developing a person's level of intuition, many people now perform meditation. Most find it is not simply a means of clearing the mind and providing a chance for inner reflection. However, many also find it an effective aid in healing various illnesses of the mind, emotions, and the body.
The Benefits of Meditation
Among the most commonly discussed benefits of meditation is that of the soothing affect that it can have on a person's physical and mental state.
The physical benefits of meditation include those which involve the heart.
One of the really important health benefits of meditation is that it decreases the heart rate, which leads to the reduction of workload for the heart and relieves the person from the stress which has accumulated. It has also been shown to lower levels of cortisol as well as dissolving and/or dissipating the chemicals that are closely associated with everyday stress.
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Other physical benefits of meditation also include the reduction of free radicals in the body by eliminating unstable oxygen molecules. It helps lower high blood pressure, maintains the skin, lowering of the person's level of cholesterol, improve breathing, delays biological aging and increases the levels of DHEA in older people. Higher DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which is naturally produced in the adrenal gland, is believed to have anti-aging properties and aid in maintaining bone density in old age, although the evidence for this last is more anecdotal than from strong research.
Among psychological factors affected by meditation, it aids in improving overall brain wave coherence, while decreasing anxiety, irritability, some depression, and mood swings. It appears to improve memory as well as learning ability, while increasing the ability for self-actualization, increasing the feelings of youthfulness and rejuvenation as well as vitality. Altogether, it seems to lead to a much more positive outlook on life, more joyfulness, and increases or enhances emotional status and stability.
Other benefits of meditation which have been noted include:
Meditation also has been shown in many cases to be an effective, and safer, method of discovering one's self instead of through unhealthy practices such as drug usage.
- Relaxation of the body, mind, and soul.
- Rejuvenation of energy needed to face challenges and stress.
- Healing of various illnesses that are closely associated with the mind and the body.
- Making a more emotionally stable person.
- Development of a more relaxed family and community life.
- Instilling positive outlook in younger people.
- Enhancing overall mind function.
- Discovery of inner self, which, in turn releases creativity.
- Freedom from various stress medications such as tranquilizers and narcotics.
- More success with quitting smoking and escaping alcoholism.
- Helping with increasing self-confidence and stronger will.
- It aids in the development of the power of the mind.
The list of the potential benefits of meditation for an individual and to his or her family goes on and on. While there are so many possible positive benefits of meditation when practiced regularly and properly, putting one's faith in the ability of meditation to cure all ills is a bit of a stretch. For example, despite all the specific benefits of meditation having to do with physical health, meditation will not necessarily improve the overall performance of the cardiovascular system like a good walking program...which is also a good way to meditatate!
Last thoughts: Despite the many known benefits of meditation, not everyone will experience all, nor will they all achieve the same level of relief or improvement. Some cases which may or may not be improved by meditation, particularly depression, may require professional medical intervention.
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