Well Known Positive Benefits of Daily Meditation
Meditation is well known for its positive effects on health and wellness. When practiced daily (morning/noon, or night), the benefits of meditation become even more pronounced. It's about consistency, focus, and dedication, just as if you were setting any other short or long term goal.
Meditation is not a new practice, in fact it originated in the ancient Vedic times of India, used in Ayurveda, the comprehensive health care system of that time. However, it has evolved away from being strictly a spiritual practice, to being more personable, and customizable to individual needs, much like yoga. With that said, meditation still is about it's core values. It's about training your mind to not ignore thoughts, but to become more aware of them, so that in the end you can understand them and who you are better.
Meditation, much like when you're trying out for a sport, or perfecting a craft you enjoy, you get better with consistency and practice, by not just going through the motions.
Know your end goals, but never loose the connection with the journey to get there.
More and more research of late is looking at the benefits of meditation from a more quantitative perspective, not just anecdotal evidence. So what exactly are the positive benefits of daily meditation and where do you start?
In this article, we'll explore the various benefits of daily meditation. Hopefully this information will give you a better perspective of how meditation can be used for you personally, to enhance your life.
Positive Benefits of Daily Meditation:
Meditation is truly both a mind-body connection. Research has found that many improvements can be made to your mental and physical health, through the practice of daily meditation.
Many of these positive outcomes are more about consistency and focus, then time spent. Just a few 15-minute focused sessions a day, is a great place to start.
Though there are a variety of different meditation practices, like Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation to name a few, we'll discuss meditation in a more broad-sense then focus on individual types or styles.
1. Helps Manage Stress, Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
This can be both mental or emotional stress, but stress management is one of the most well-known benefits of daily meditation. Let's face it, we all have it, but it's partly how we cope or deal with the stressors, or early recognition of the stressors, that dictates our mental and physical outcomes.
Long term stress can cause major health issues down the line. Stress is known to create both physical and mental damage to the body, much of it having to do with chemicals released during those times of stress, cortisol and catecholamines to name a few.
Meditation actually has the ability to physically alter our brains, by decreasing neurological connections to the medial prefrontal cortex, which lessons fear, stress and anxiety, according to Headspace.com. This alone may help us return to a more relaxed and restful state faster, decreasing time spent in a more fight-or-flight response to stressors which have negative impacts on our health.
Studies have shown repeatedly the ability of meditation on stress reduction. One such study published in 2014 on a Transcendental Meditation program and workplace stress, concluded meditation was effective in reducing psychological distress in teachers. Specifically these were teachers whom of which worked with students that had behavioral problems.
Another study, TM was specifically correlated to a reduced risk of mortality, MI (myocardial infarction), and stroke in coronary heart disease patients, which were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.
A meta-analysis was also conducted 2012, with a review of 200+ articles related to anxiety disorder and meditation. Conclusions based on the analysis demonstrated efficacy of meditative therapies in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Other studies exist on meditation and it's effect on depressive symptoms, like this one published in 2012, on dementia. The study suggested that even brief daily meditation practices led to lower depressive symptoms, along with better cognitive functioning.
2. Boosts Your Overall Mood
When you're less stressed, your mind stays clear and happier. It’s difficult to stay happy and present when we are constantly worried and under stress. Luckily, meditation is able to improve your mood, maybe even in as little as a few weeks of consistent meditation.
Your mental state can change rapidly when you start meditating every day, and so does the chemical makeup of your brain. Daily meditation offers practitioners a basic but powerful way to modify their mindset and brain chemistry. In fact, researchers have found that people who meditate regularly have higher levels of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that are responsible for happiness.
As your stress levels decreases, chemicals like cortisol also reduce. Overexposure or to much sustained production of cortisol can effect your brain and immune system. With proper consistent daily meditation, cortisol levels can be lowered as well as potentially your risk for chronic diseases.
3. Improves Mental Acuity And Alertness
Not only can your mood improve overtime with the efforts from meditating daily, but so can your cognitive abilities. Daily meditation is associated with a host of brain benefits, and the ability to increase awareness, clarity, and compassion are included results of this practice.
One such study, looking at mindfulness training and brain training, saw significant reductions in mind-wandering with the group assigned the mindfulness training.
Another study looking at mind-wandering also suggested similarly that mindfulness sessions can help reduce mind wandering by 22% in this specific study.
4. Protects You Against Cognitive Decline And Memory Loss
Daily meditation does more than keep your mind active and nimble in the present moment. It also may have beneficial outcomes when it comes to memory and improving memory. Our brains age, this is an inevitable fact of life. Research, has indicated that mindfulness meditation can have positive benefits for improving short-term memory.
It has also been found that people who perform meditation show larger volumes of the right hippocampus. The hippocampus is important for processing and retrieving 2 types of memories, declarative and spatial.
5. Improves Your Heart Health
Along with helping our brain health, regular meditation can enhance our heart health. Meditation is known to help reduce high blood pressure and/or reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, especially in association with decreased psychosocial distress, and increased coping in young adults at risk for hypertension. This is important because high blood pressure can be damaging to our hearts. It can lead to heart attacks and even strokes.
Meditation is also associated with supporting and helping with smoking cessation, craving and relapse prevention. As most of us know, smoking can cause serious cardiovascular, respiratory and other physical deterioration to our bodies.
6. You Become More Self-Aware
Meditation is about more than improving
your physical health, it is a tool for self-growth and actualization. It takes time to fully understand yourself and your emotions, but
through mindful daily meditation you can learn to recognize what aspects of
yourself are helping or hindering you.
Self-awareness is crucial for our own development and meditation helps to cultivate this skill, greatly!
7. Helps You Get A Better Night of Rest
Sleep is important to all aspects of our health, and regular meditation can help you manage your sleep better. Many people across the world struggle to sleep well, with sleep disturbances like insomnia..
There are studies correlating meditation as a viable treatment in people who suffer or have to deal with chronic insomnia. Meditation just may be an alternate type of intervention for people who suffer from sleep issues.
There has also been indication from research showing higher plasma melatonin levels in individuals following meditation. Melatonin is an important hormone released, associated with control of our sleep-wake cycle.
8. Promotes Kindness And Forgiveness?
Just think about all the potential positive changes that meditation can make for your mind and body. Self-perception and feelings within may grow stronger. Could this possibly lead to you not just loving yourself more, but finding it even easier to love others as well.
Meditating daily and consistently can have big implications on your "self" in many ways. We hope that you will share some of your thoughts on your practice and how it has helped you on a daily basis.