Benefits for physical and mental health
Meditation classes can reduce the cost of medical services. Research conducted by the Center for Health System Analysis has shown that people who practice meditation for more than a year spend 11% less on medical services. Those who have been practicing mindfulness for over 5 years have 28% lower medical bills.
According to a study published in the journal Chronicles of Family Medicine, people who meditate regularly reduce the risk of getting SARS by 40% -50%. As shown by the analysis of the blood of the study participants, daily meditation helps to reduce the level of inflammatory processes in the body and, accordingly, the risk of serious diseases.
In addition, regular meditation practices normalize blood pressure and help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
An effective stress reliever
Scientists from the University of California have found that meditation Zen helps reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Participants in this study were asked to fill out special questionnaires, by analyzing which, scientists were able to assess the level of awareness of the respondents “before and after” an intensive 3-month retreat. The results of the study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, showed that participants who returned from retreat with higher levels of mindfulness had significantly lower levels of cortisol.
Despite the fact that the study lasted a long 3 months, according to scientists, stress relief through meditation will take much less time. So, people who attended 25-minute meditation trainings for 3 days, where they were taught to focus on breathing and being present in the moment, felt more calm and balanced when performing stressful tasks.
Help fight depression and anxiety
Meditation effectively combats feelings of increased anxiety and depression. This conclusion was reached by scientists from Johns Hopkins University, who published the results of their study in the journal Social Cognitive and Emotional Neuroscience. Scientists analyzed about 20,000 studies on the benefits of meditation.
It turned out that meditation affects activity in two specific parts of the brain: the anterior cingulate cortex, responsible for thinking and emotions, and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which controls anxiety. Already after 20 minutes of meditation, the level of anxiety of the participants of the practice decreased by almost 40%.
Help in the fight against excess weight
Maintaining a stable weight is an unexpected benefit of meditation, especially if you’re a frivolous eater and prone to stress eating.
A UC San Francisco study found that curvy women who were trained in the sensory experience of eating and meditated for 30 minutes a day lost weight more often and more easily. As we embark on the path of mindfulness, we become more conscious in our choice of food, paying attention to its composition, appearance, aroma, texture, and taste. It helps us cut out useless snacks and empty calories while maintaining a healthy weight.
An interesting study was published in Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. It turns out that with the help of meditation it is much easier to quit smoking. Smokers who meditated for just half an hour a day for 10 days had 60% less cravings for cigarettes than those who were simply taught to relax. Moreover, smokers did not take part in the experiment to get rid of addiction, so they did not even try to intentionally reduce the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Quitting smoking happened on its own, without much effort.
Another University of Wisconsin-Madison study of addict behavior found that meditation can be beneficial for people who abuse alcohol and are in remission. Nonjudgmental conscious observation allows them to see and accept the problems that initially cornered them and led to addiction.
Meditation techniques were more effective than traditional sleep-enhancing methods, such as limiting nighttime light exposure and avoiding alcohol before bed, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Moreover, meditation was no less effective than sleeping pills. In addition to getting a good night’s sleep, regular meditation helps you feel less tired during the day.
Regular meditation practice can improve almost every aspect of your professional life. Research conducted by the University of Washington showed that after an 8-week meditation course, office workers were more energetic, less negative about work routines, and more effective in focusing both on one task and on multi-tasking at the same time.
We all have a so-called “blind spot” when it comes to our own emotions, behaviors and thoughts. Awareness and presence in the moment help to expand the boundaries of our inner field of vision.
As Perspectives of Psychology writes, mindfulness involves observation and attention to the details of the present moment, and does so without judgment or judgmental action. This helps all practitioners not only to discover their shortcomings, but also to stop unconsciously denying them.
The best version of yourself
Meditation not only makes us feel good, it also makes us the best version of ourselves. The results of the experiment, published in the journal Psychological Science, once again confirmed what Buddhists have always believed – meditation helps a person to discover the capacity for compassion and begin to love all living beings.
After an 8-week meditation course, the researchers placed the participants in a full actors’ room with only one seat left. After all the participants were seated, an actor on crutches entered the room, depicting extreme pain and suffering. At the same time, the rest of the actor was given the task of ignoring him. Among the participants in the experiment who did not practice meditation, only 15% of people moved to help the “sufferer”. Whereas among the meditating participants, 50% of the people volunteered to help the sick man.
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