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What are the Benefits of Meditation?
Enjoy the effects and know the benefits of meditation
Meditation practice regulates blood pressure and helps to alleviate chronic pain. What about reserve twenty minutes of your day to turn all the other hours in lighter and relaxing moments? According to the latest research, this is the time you’ll need to take daily meditation to balance the body and prevent the risks of stress.
Techniques of meditation are used as complementary treatment for a variety of health problems, especially those with emotional connection. Stress, chronic pain, headache, anxiety, depression, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and gastrointestinal problems are among the maladies relieved by a few minutes of rest for the mind.
Understand the effects
The first studies that analyze the benefits of meditation are of the 1970s, from Professor Herbert Benson of Harvard. He found that the body has the ability to reach a state of physiological relaxation (physical, mental, emotional, metabolic), opposite the state of stress.
This state of relaxation represents a large reduction in the consumption of oxygen by our cells. It’s like your brain to enter a state with maximum reduction of energy consumption, keeping only the minimum functions to continue on.
What would be the advantage of resting state? According to the Harvard study, the change causes a slow heart rate, tension, levels of blood pressure, anxiety and metabolism as a whole.
Relieve of chronic pain
Researchers at the University of North Carolina analyzed 500 students who had never meditated. The participants took a training of 20 minutes of practice, for three consecutive days and then were tested with electric shocks.
The results, published in “The Journal of Pain”, showed that meditation helped relieve pain, even though the students were beginners. According to the author of the study, Fadel Zeidan, meditation may be able to reduce the emotional responses of the body, especially those related to pain. When someone is expecting a painful stimulus, the pain becomes more pronounced. But if you focus on breathing in a relaxed way, you will have less expectation of pain.
More attention and controlling emotions
At the University of Wisconsin, researchers followed eight Buddhist meditators, on average, 49 years old, who practiced meditation for over 15 to 40 years. They were compared to a control group of 10 students, with an average of 21 years old.
It was found that Buddhist meditation for long periods induces changes in brain function, which produces a lasting effect on cognition and emotion. The practice improves alertness and perception. In addition, meditation allows a greater release of serotonin, a hormone related to happiness, which helps prevent depression and helps balance the emotions.
Sharp brain and more neurons
The change in the brain caused by meditation is so obvious that a Harvard study, published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, was able to determine the affected area, there is an increase in concentration of gray matter in the left hippocampus of people who meditate. There is also an increase of the mass in the posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction and the cerebellum.
What does this mean? An improvement in regions involved in learning, memory, emotions and stress. The brain may has more concentration of neurons that are lost with age.
The National Institutes of Health funded more than USD$24 million over 20 years to study the effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and other techniques related to cardiovascular disease. The studies, in general, showed that this technique can help in the treatment of hypertension (by relaxing the blood vessels), reducing the metabolic syndrome, combat atherosclerosis and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Prevention of Alzheimer and hyperactivity control
Scientists at Emory University in Atlanta, found that months of intense meditation can sharpen the brain enough to help treat disorders related to the disorder of thought, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease. Meditation helps to regulate the mind, increasing the ability to limit distractions and confusion of thought.
Improvement in patients with cancer or AIDS
Diseases that require stressful treatments can be improved with meditation. A recent survey showed that the practice reduced the side effects of chemotherapy – vomiting, nausea and insomnia – in women who had breast cancer.
Another study at the University of California, found that patients with HIV accustomed to meditate experienced less stress and therefore had a stronger immune system to prevent infections and the spread of HIV.
The chances of living longer with meditation are also pointed out scientifically. A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, funded by the National Institutes of Health, evaluated the mortality rates of 202 men and women, with an average of 71 years old. All had high blood pressure. After 18 years of follow-up, mortality rates were reduced by 23% with regular practice of meditation exercises.
Benefits of meditation are endless so start now
You can train the body to reach the state of relaxation medication practicing 20 minutes a day with diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and eyes closed, relax gradually the muscles throughout the body, breathe through your nose; become aware in the flow of air that enters and leaves the body and mentally repeat a single word of your choice, with each breath.
The technique described above is called passive concentrative, a simplest form of meditation suitable for beginners. Your focus can be directed either to a word as a sound, an object, a body part or even just to breath.