Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years–originating in India and quickly spreading throughout Asia and beyond. The first anthropological evidence of meditation suggests that the practice arose in the vedantist sect of Hinduism–but it has since been adopting into virtually every major system of religion and spirituality. In recent years, a plethora of scientific studies have offered substantial evidence that meditation can greatly improve both physical and emotional well-being.
Here are just a few of the ways that meditation can naturally improve your health and your life:
The Emotional Benefits of Meditation
Although scientists have yet to discover the exact neurological cause, meditation has been shown to transform electrical patterns in the brain in an encouraging way: after several weeks of regular meditation, subjects tend to show increased activity in the frontal lobe, which is a telltale trait of optimistic people. Psychological studies anecdotal evidence–which can be found in abundance both online and in the real world–corroborate this notion: people who meditate tend to see a reduction in stress, anxiety, depression and mood swings. It enables people to see themselves more clearly, and it encourages people to “live in the moment.” Problem solving, empathy, self-acceptance, and confidence all tend to rise when individuals begin meditating regularly. Moreover, these positive emotional effects are often compounded by the positive physical effects.
The Physical Benefits of Meditation
The stress of daily life is more than just a psychological obstacle–it also causes our bodies to release adrenaline, frequently known as the “fight or flight” chemical. This response, although useful when staying focused on a difficult project, surviving rush hour traffic, or (as might be a more evolutionarily insightful example) hunting. The problem is that, when life becomes too busy or overwhelming, the amount of adrenaline released into our bodies can harm the organs that carry out vital functions by forcing them to work too hard. Most notably, our heart rate rises, our blood pressure spikes, and our breathing quickens. Meditation is an easy and all-natural way of managing this stress; and, according to the American Heart Association, it can significantly reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. In addition to heart health, meditation can be helpful in the treatment or management of many other conditions: it has been shown to help correct hormonal imbalances, manage pain, and even boost the immune system. In short: though meditation is not a replacement for medical care, it can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
Beginning a Meditation Routine
Meditation is an easy skill to learn–and, contrary to perception, it does not necessarily need to involve sitting in the lotus position and chanting a mantra. There are many distinct types of meditation that can fit with all types of personalities and lifestyles–from active meditation to quiet reflection and more. The most important thing is not even how you meditate–it is simply taking the decision to set a small amount of time aside each day (as little as 5 minutes, if you would like) and using that time to get in touch with your inner self.
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