This is a guest post written by Lily Harvey, a writer who is helping to promote responsible, ethical healthcare business leading towards a healthier lifestyle.
Despite a history that dates back to prehistoric times, meditation is still often regarded as rather whimsy ‘hippy’ practice. Certainly not something that can stack up against science, drugs and medication. However the art of meditation, a mode of brain training which is defined by Meditation Station as ‘a process that leads to a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity and bliss, has been proven to naturally benefit both mental and physical health.
Whilst nobody should consider replacing their medication with meditation (unless advised to do so by a health care professional) they should be aware that meditating is a more natural, cheaper way to alleviate and improve certain health conditions from the comfort of the home. Here are five conditions that may benefit from meditation.
In a recent trial carried out by Segal et al, research indicated that an 8 week period of regular ‘mindfulness meditation’ is as successful at alleviating the symptoms of depression as an 18 month medication/antidepressant treatment. Using meditation in order to combat depression is very simple – it is all about training the mind to become detached from your own thoughts and feelings. It is about being a state of alertness; present but not lost in a stream of harmful thoughts.
Of course, a person cannot be completely detached from their feelings all of the time. But eventually mindfulness meditation can help you notice negative feelings but not be directly affected by them. Someone who is constantly focused upon their negative thoughts will find that their whole energy field becomes depleted and so they become very de-motivated, unfulfilled and consequently unhappy. Mindfulness meditation works by focusing on an object, a sound or even silence (which according to Out of Stress, silence has a very nourishing effect on the body’s cells). This, in turn, allows the body to find inner peace, repair itself and rectify any chemical imbalances. The attention is also freed from any negative thoughts/feelings.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious ailment which can often be a major contributor to potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease, stroke and organ failure. Meditation is thought to help actively prevent and lower high blood pressure naturally, although not usually to the extent where all medication can be completely eradicated. Because the body is in such a calm, relaxed state during meditation processes, it means that the body needs less oxygen and therefore the heart beats far less – usually around 3-10% less according to Secrets of Meditation. This lowered rate of heartbeats allows the blood pressure to reduce significantly.
In a 5 year study conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin, 201 heart disease patients were split into two focus groups – one who practiced meditation daily and one that did not. In the following years, the meditating group suffered 47% less heart attacks and deaths. This goes some way to proving that meditation must support blood pressure.
Sleep is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle so being persistently deprived of it can become a debilitating problem. For those suffering with insomnia, reaching for the sleeping tablets in the hope of an instant knock-out can seem like the best option. But sleeping tablets can come with a variety of problems such as drowsiness, drug dependency issues and likelihood of making an underlying problem. Using natural methods to cure insomnia is a far healthier option and meditation is proven to help relieve this in exactly same way that it can relieve depression and anxiety.
Often our anxieties feed insomnia – we are simply unable to ‘shut off’ and go to sleep. A 10 minute mindfulness meditation routine before bed can help the body relax and in turn, encourage the brain to release high levels of serotonin – the ‘happy hormone’ which leaves us feeling content and at peace. Low levels of this are often associated with insomnia and low mood.
Depleted Immune System
The immune system is the body’s natural defence so keeping it in tip top condition is vital to avoid contracting viruses and diseases. It is thought that meditation can help boost the immune system through a variety of methods. Firstly, it encourages positive activity in the areas of the brain responsible for mood and emotion which generally makes us happy, thus sleeping and functioning as we should. In times of emotional distress of defences are down making us more susceptible to incoming viruses. It is also thought to increase the activity of the natural ‘killer’ cells that ward off harmful bacteria and germs. It also decreases our oxygen intake which can promote lung and respiratory health.
With some research indicating that meditation can even be relevant in keeping killer diseases such as cancer at bay, it is surely worth a try.
Whether it be muscular pain, burns, menstrual pain, migraine or broken bones – any form of severe pain can be distressing. According to British newspaper, The Telegraph, meditation can be stronger than drugs when it comes to relieving pain. Studies have indicated that focusing on breathing techniques and achieving a high level of consciousness can reduce brain activity in the somatosensroy cortex – the area of the brain responsible for identifying the location and intensity of pain in the body. At the same time it increased activity in the area of the brain responsible for coping techniques thereby acting as a natural pain relieving mode of thought.