Health benefits of meditation
“For a long time, meditation was considered a spiritual or religious practice, but we’ve found it extends far beyond that. It can elicit a physiological response in people who meditate regularly,” says Jacob Manjooran, MD, a board-certfied psychiatrist at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center.
Meditation can create neurological changes in the brain, leading to increased self-awareness, compassion, and response control. The researchers reported these findings in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal. In short, long-term meditation can actually change your brain structure and the way you think.
The benefits of meditation are far reaching, and the research is ongoing. But here are some notable ways meditation can improve your health:
• Anxiety and depression: Meditation reduces anxiety and boosts emotional regulation, awareness, happiness and social bonds.
“It’s the best relaxation technique that can be learned and mastered. For people dealing with anxiety and depression, meditation can be so beneficial that it feels like a spiritual experience,”. Manjooran said.
• Memory, cognition and attention: The study suggests that meditation can enhance cognitive function. Regular practice of meditation may also improve mental well-being.
• Pain management and cancer treatment: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, found that meditation can help control pain without using the brain’s naturally occurring opiates to do so.
The Society for Integrative Oncology also recommends meditation in part of a multidisciplinary approach for cancer patients to help reduce their symptoms, including pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
• High blood pressure and heart health: Research has proven that meditation lowers blood pressure for patients with high blood pressure, and it reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure, especially for teens.
It suggests helping to lower resting heart rate, reducing the thickening of coronary arteries in hypertensive adults and even reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)and ulcerative colitis: Some studies have suggested that meditation can reduce the severity of symptoms for IBS and ulcerative colitis patients.
• Immune system: Meditation can help strengthen and regulate the immune system by reducing the chemical identifiers of inflammation. It can also reduce stress-induced inflammation and other types of chronic inflammation that contribute to disease.