In the past forty years, dozens of universities all over the world including Singapore, Europe, and the US have conducted hundreds of research and studies on the effects of meditation on behavior and human physiology.
The results of these researches have pointed to meditation producing benefits on various levels simultaneously, including mental functioning, emotions, relationships, and the body. Meditation is good for you – true or false?
What’s the catch? Like all things in life, if you want to achieve the therapeutic effects of meditation, you must spend time to meditate daily.
Meditating every day will need more than just your time, but also the willingness and the WANT to meditate. This means that you have to choose an approach or method that suits your personal nature perfectly that will make it an enjoyable practice for you.
Many people stop meditating because they chose the wrong technique, and not because of being undisciplined. There are lots of styles and ways of meditating and choosing something that doesn’t fit your personality is most likely to be the cause of failure.
So, is meditation really good for you?
That would depend on every person and how they receive meditation as a whole. There’s always no harm in trying. You’ll never know if it’s the answer you’ve been looking for, not unless you give it a try.
It is interesting to question how something like meditation be very beneficial to the mind and body. The answer is actually in “physiology”.
To put it simply, meditation is a process that the body knows how to do, and will willingly do if one sets up the conditions and permits it.
It is natural for the human body to enter a deep healing state. All a person has to do is focus in specific ways, and endure the intensity of the feeling as you release stress.
So in actuality, meditation is already a “built-in” ability of the body. The term “meditation” is simply the name given to the process where the body’s nervous systems, senses, and brain are given the chance to “tune up”.
More significantly, meditation is more than just a “chance”, but a total permission for the body’s nervous system to perform its “healing” thing.
Meditating is like giving one’s body something it needs. It goes beyond simply resting or sleeping every day, but is a more profound way of letting go of all life’s stresses that keeps’ one tightly wounded.
This is perhaps why meditation can sometimes have so much powerful effects on a person, as it’s a way of giving into the mind and body’s powerful healing dynamics that are already built within. Here are some therapeutic effects of meditation:
(1) Improved Focus Ability
Studies show that practicing meditation develops greater “field independence”. Field independence is linked to greater ability of assimilating and structuring experience, improving memory, enhancing creative expression, and better mind organization and clarity.
(2) Deeper Relaxation Level
Research shows that meditation gives far better state of relaxation compared to just simply closing the eyes to rest. It shows that during meditation reduces the levels of breath rate, heart rate, spontaneous skin conductance, and plasma lactate, which suggests that there’s a increasing reduced physiological stress.
(3) Improved Memory and Perception
Studies show that meditation displayed considerable improvements in short-term memory test and perceptual memory test that involved identifying letter sequences given rapidly; therefore suggesting that meditation is better method of increasing memory and perception compared to resting with eyes closed or changing the daily routine.
(4) Decrease of Stress Hormone
Research shows that meditation reduces the stress hormone, plasma cortisol, compared to those doing ordinary relaxation.
(5) Low Blood Pressure
In clinical experiments, meditation showed to provide an improvement to people with moderately elevated levels of blood pressure. The studies showed that there was a drop in the diastolic and systolic blood pressure of individuals meditating compared to those doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation or the usual care.
Longitudinal study also showed that the cholesterol levels of hypercholsteolemic patients decreased through meditation.
(7) Increased Self-Concept Strength
A clinical research showed that a month after starting meditation, the subjects experienced better self-concept. The participants developed a much stronger defined self-concept, wherein they came to recognize their “actual self” as appreciably closer it their “ideal self”.
(8) Decreased Alcohol, Cigarette, and Drug Abuse
A statistical study found that meditation generated significantly bigger reduction in alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use compared to prevention programs or standard substance abuse treatments.
(9) Improved Work Relations
A study found considerable improvements in work relations after months of practicing meditation. The participants claimed to have felt lesser anxiety towards work and its pressures and were seen to moved ahead quickly.
(10) Better Health and More Positive Health Habits
A research showed that those regularly practicing meditation, significantly improved in overall physical well-being, mental health, and vitality compared to non-practitioners. There was also significant reduction in the usage of cigarettes and hard liquor.
And can any meditation harm you?
Think about this scenario: If your shoes doesn’t fit, it gives you sore toes and can even cause your toenails to fall off. If you get blisters from the shoes being so tight, they may get infected.
Forcing yourself to wear the shoes anyway, despite the pain it is giving you will eventually break your foot. On the other hand, too big a shoe will cause you to fall or trip, hurting or even crippling the foot.
In meditation, when the technique doesn’t fit you, its main damage will typically be in your connection with yourself. It may damage the capacity to competently pay attention to your “internal life”.
If you insist on doing the meditation that doesn’t suit you because of fear of failing, you’ll do more damage to yourself than helping it.
Choose a meditation that will be good for you and don’t force an “unnatural technique” just because it’s a good thing.
Meditation is good for you, if you have chosen the right meditation for you, and it can be boundless when it comes to benefits.
Open your mind to what meditation offers, and learn how to meditation will enable you to live a healthy life, and become a healthier person physically, mentally, and emotionally!
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