Benefits of Meditation
In this relaxed state, meditation (a concentrated focus) cultivates an emotional stability, where you experience intense emotions fully but can still maintain perspective on them. This experience of emotional stability allows you to gain greater insight and understanding of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions; which in turn make you feel more confident and in control of your life.
Research evidence suggest that meditation reduces the grey-matter density in the areas of brain that are related with anxiety and stress, as meditators were able to attend “moment-to-moment” stream of stimuli and were less likely to ‘get stuck’ on any one stimulus. Besides this, it also simultaneously increases the grey-matter concentration in the areas of brain involved in regulation of emotions, which leads to better acceptance of self and life’s situations. Several studies also explain that meditative state provides therapeutic benefits by positively influencing metabolism, endocrine system, central nervous system, and autonomic nervous system.
Sometimes, various mindfulness techniques such as visualization (guided imagery) and sound healing are used for meditation. These techniques help in bringing awareness to the mind-body connection and accessing one’s own power of healing. As your brain can’t distinguish between real and imagined events, during visualization when you imagine positive and healing experiences, new neural pathways are created and your brain releases “feel good” biochemicals i.e. endorphins and serotonin. Besides, making you feel more relaxed and positive, it helps in developing healthy coping skills, building confidence, accessing inner wisdom and mastering new behaviours.
Another mindfulness practice of sound healing (chanting and vocal toning) also has profound effect on people’s health. This technique uses sound frequencies to connect you to the source of inner stillness and calm. This synchronicity created in the brain helps in achieving a better state of harmony and elevates body’s cells to a super-healing state.
Immune System Booster
Research suggest that meditation is an effective technique to increase immunity and treat cognitive functioning deficits, pain, headaches, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, insomnia, anxiety and other ailments that are exacerbated by stress. One study from Harvard Medical School demonstrated that practicing yoga and meditation improves mitochondrial energy production, which helps in boosting immunity and resilience to stress in the body. In another study, meditation was found as effective in treating anxiety and depression as an antidepressant drug therapy.
Thus, by promoting a sense of balance in the body and the mind, yogic practices help in increasing mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence. This leads to:
- Reduced anxiety, impulsivity and hyperactivity;
- Improved attention, memory and decision making;
- Enhanced self-confidence and ability to work under stress;
- Better interpersonal relationships; and
- An optimistic outlook on life.
Though, there are no concrete guidelines about the frequency of yogic practices, as these offer a holistic model of health and healing, with consistent practice you can experience better health, higher quality of life and extend your longevity at lower health care costs.
Generally, yogic practices are very safe with rare side effects but people with mental illness such as psychotic disorders, severe depression, and other severe personality disorders should ask their doctor before they begin any such practices. Also, if you feel frightened, sad or disorientated after meditating tell meditation instructor or contact your doctor.