Tag: meditation

The Potential Medical Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has long been part of Eastern practices and recommended by alternative health practitioners. With the widespread adoption of yoga, breathing exercises and general mindfulness, meditation has become much more mainstream and something many traditional physicians now recommend to their patients.

According to the yoga equipment supply company Gaiam, meditation is an approach to training the mind that is similar to the way athletes train their bodies. Many meditation techniques exist, and the term meditation refers to an overall discipline rather than one specific activity. People who have been meditating for some time may be able to rest their brains for extended periods of time. Some may need to work up to it. Others practice focus-specific meditation, which makes them focus on a sensation or a particular object to tune out other distractions. Another option is open-monitoring meditation, which involves paying attention to all of one’s surroundings. Instead of reacting, you just notice things as they are.

The brand-building company Buffer says that meditation produces measurable changes in the brain. Modern technology like MRI scans show a decrease in beta waves during meditation. Those waves normally indicate that the brain is processing information. Meditation helps to slow or stop that processing. Meditation has been long studied as a way to induce relaxation and help alleviate stress. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response.” In Benson’s words, this is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” Meditation helps achieve that.

Meditation may produce many different health results. Some are immediate, and others are cumulative. Here are some changes a person may see:

• better focus while not meditating

• reduced anxiety

• lower blood pressure

• lower blood cortisol levels

• greater feelings of well-being

• reduced feelings of stress

• ability to cope better with challenging situations

• potential benefits on immune system function

Meditation is a skill someone learns with practice. It’s never too early or too late to learn how to meditate. Online courses and neighborhood studios can help people get on the road to wellness through meditation.

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is often trumped as a means to reducing stress and restoring healthy function in the body. While meditation might once have been considered a New Age treatment, in recent years it has developed into a mainstream practice supported by both traditional and alternative medical providers.

The Mayo Clinic says that anyone can practice meditation. A cost-effective treatment that does not require any special equipment or location, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and originally was developed to help people understand the mystical or spiritual forces of life. Although meditation for some may still have religious or spiritual connotations, in a medical sense it is typically used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Various studies show that meditation can be associated with improvement of a variety of issues. Researchers describe meditation-based changes as ones that actually change the brain. Changes in the circuitry of the brain may affect the way a person responds to specific situations. The following are a few ways to put mindful meditation to use.

· Strengthen cognitive function: Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, says meditation can help thicken the prefrontal cortex of the brain, helping to reverse the pattern of cognitive function decline as one ages.

· Protect against heart disease: There is some indication that meditation can reduce concentrations of the marker C-reactive protein, which is associated with the development of heart disease.

· Stimulate the immune system: A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that mindfulness meditation increases electrical activity in the areas of the prefrontal cortex getprev-2.editthat serve a
s the command center for the immune system. When these areas are stimulated, the immune system works more effectively.

· Reduce blood pressure: The stress-boosting properties of meditation can help reduce hypertension. Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine attribute this to the increase of nitric oxide during meditation. Nitric oxide gas can expand blood vessels and open up blood channels.

Some experts also say that meditation can decrease metabolism and improve breathing. Meditation may be a mind-body way to beat some of the conditions that affect people during daily life. Meditation is not difficult to learn, but it something that requires practice to master.