People have been meditating for thousands of years to seek enlightenment, mindfulness, relaxation and inner peace. Many researchers speculate that the primitive hunting and gathering communities were the first to discover meditation and the many levels of consciousness while staring into their fires.
This ancient practice has a multitude of benefits that help the mind, body and soul. Though science cannot completely explain how and why meditation works, countless studies support its therapeutic benefits. Below are five benefits meditation can offer you.
1. Meditation improves your cardiovascular health.
Numerous studies have concluded that regardless of age, meditation improves circulation with its steady breathing, lowers blood pressure and heart rate and, with regular practice, decreases the risks for heart attack and stroke.
2. It strengthens the immune system.
When the body is experiencing stress it produces a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol slow the healing process and debilitate the immune system, leaving it sluggish and susceptible to infection and disease. Meditation decreases the body’s hormone response to stress and provides a healthy coping strategy you can use anywhere at any time.
3. Makes you happier.
Serotonin is a chemical your body produces naturally to keep your moods positive. Serotonin reduces episodes of insomnia, fatigue, fear, anxiety and depression. Meditation increases the level of serotonin in the body and makes you happier. It increases self-esteem, self confidence and improves ones self-image and the ability to sleep.
4. Gives one a better understanding of the self and others.
Meditation can help improve the relationship with the self and with others. When we reconnect with ourselves we become more aware, grounded, relaxed and self-accepting. It is through our own self-acceptance that we develop empathy, compassion, forgiveness and understanding for others short-comings.
5. Boosts the ability to concentrate.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and a University of Wisconsin study have proven that meditation increases focus and concentration, heightening attention to detail, moral reasoning and memory. Meditation alters and restructures the brain region associated with sensory processing, thus increasing the brains ability to focus for longer periods of time.
Meditation has several forms or types. This allows options for the plentitude of personalities and learning styles. It may be necessary to experiment with several before you settle on the type that works best for you. Remember, meditation is a skill that is perfected with time and commitment.
One of the best known meditation forms is mindfulness meditation. With this meditation style the participant is aware of his or her surroundings and the sounds present within that environment, but the goal is to not focus on any of it; just observe it and move from one thought to the next.
Focus meditation clears the mind of thoughts and has the participant focus on an object, sound, mantra or thought. This form of meditation is extremely useful in enhancing creativity. Below are a few tools that can be used to practice this style of meditation. Most metaphysical and New Age stores carry a variety of items that can be used in this type of meditation.
A mala is a string of beads used for chanting a mantra in sets of 108 repetitions to train the spiritual self. This tool allows the participant to let go of all thought and focus on the mantra to produce a specific result.
In candle meditation the participants focus their attention on the flame of the candle. The eyes must remain open and blinking should be avoided. This meditation tool is an excellent choice for those wanting to improve concentration skills.
Singing bowls have a pure and resonating sound that promotes a deep state of relaxation, which is necessary for one to meditate effectively. The meditative tones produced by a singing bowl’s vibrations are known to have a balancing effect on the chakras. These tones also bring a balance known as synchronization to the brain.
In movement meditation participants focus on slow, flowing, repetitive-motions such as swaying. This type of meditation is a wonderful option for energetic souls. It releases physical tension and increase circulation.
The best way to fully experience all that meditation has to offer is to practice it on a regular basis. Frequency is far more important than the amount of time spent on each session. Five minutes each day is more effective than two fifteen minute session a week.
The benefits meditation offers are numerous and free. This ancient technique for calming the mind, body and spirit is available 24/7. Just knowing some basic techniques can help anyone improve their life and health.
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” ~ Buddha