World Meditation Day: 9 magical health benefits of meditation

A stressed woman

When feeling overwhelmed by stress or anxiety, grounding yourself or focusing on a task can become challenging. It may seem like nothing is working out and your life is becoming increasingly stressful. Although stress and anxiety are normal parts of daily life, experiencing them regularly can harm your health. Don’t worry if you find yourself in this situation, because meditation can rescue you. Meditation is a mind-body practice that involves focusing your attention on the present moment and your breath, promoting a sense of calmness. By practicing meditation, you can reduce stress, enhance emotional well-being, and improve your overall quality of life. Here are all the health benefits of meditation you should know.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind to achieve a state of calm and clarity. It typically includes techniques such as mindfulness, concentration, and deep breathing to promote relaxation and self-awareness. “The goal is to quiet the mind, reduce stress, and enhance physical, mental, and emotional well-being,” explains Yoga and Spiritual Leader, Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar. It has gained popularity due to its profound health benefits, which include decreasing stress, promoting peace of mind, improving heart health, and even gives you a positive outlook on your life!

9 health benefits of meditation

Here are 9 ways meditating regularly can improve your overall health, including your physical and mental health:

1. Reduces stress

One of the most recognised benefits of meditation is its ability to reduce stress. Chronic stress can lead to a host of health problems, including anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular diseases. Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, helps lower the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. A Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine (JAMA Internal Medicine) study has shown that regular meditation can decrease psychological stress symptoms, enhancing overall well-being.

Meditation can relax and calm your mind. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Controls anxiety

Meditation also plays a crucial role in controlling anxiety. By promoting relaxation and a heightened sense of awareness, meditation helps reduce the symptoms of various anxiety disorders. A study published by the American Psychological Association indicates that mindfulness meditation programs significantly reduce anxiety symptoms and mood problems.

Also read: 6 tips to make daily meditation a part of your life

3. Enhances emotional health

Meditation fosters a positive outlook on life. Regular practise is linked to improved self-image and a more optimistic outlook. A review published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation can also reduce symptoms of depression by decreasing inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. This chemical is released in response to stress and can affect mood and mental health. Meditation, therefore, acts as a tool to improve emotional health and resilience.

4. Improves concentration

Due to the constant hustle and bustle of daily life, maintaining focus and attention on one thing at a time is challenging. “To improve concentration and attention, meditation can be a helpful tool. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention, improving your overall brain health,” suggests Akshar.

5. Improves sleep

Chronic insomnia is highly prevalent and affects approximately 10 to 30 percent of the population worldwide, according to the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. Insomnia and sleep disturbances are common problems that affect the quality of sleep, increasing the risk of mental stress and exhaustion. It has been found that regular practise of meditation can help manage these issues by promoting relaxation and preparing the mind for sleep.

6. Decreases blood pressure

High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart-related disease and stroke. Apart from being widely known to reduce stress, meditation is also well known for improving heart health. According to the International Journal of Hypertension, meditation helps lower blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function and blood vessel tension. As a result, it contributes to cardiovascular health and overall longevity.

Also read: 7 meditation practices every woman should try for inner peace

7. Reduces the risk of memory loss

Meditation can improve memory and cognitive function, particularly in older adults. Practises such as Kirtan Kriya, which combines a mantra with repetitive finger movements, have been shown to improve participants’ ability to perform memory tasks. A study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reveals that meditation helps maintain cognitive function, which is crucial in reducing the risk of age-related memory decline and diseases like

An old woman holding her forehead
Meditation can help help fight dementia and Alzheimer’s disease . Image courtesy: Freepik

8. Helps control pain

The pain caused by migraine, headache, back pain, and osteoarthritis is directly connected to the mind and can elevate when you are under stress. A review of 38 studies found that meditation practitioners experienced a reduced sensation of pain compared to non-meditators. In the long run, this can improve quality of life and mood.

9. Improves quality of life

A study published by Behavioural Neurology found that quality of life, energy levels, and cognitive function were higher in people who meditated. Another study published by the International Journal of Yoga found that yoga and meditation may not be a cure for cancer, but they together help increase physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness and bring about a certain peace.

How to perform meditation?

Here are 8 steps to follow the right practise of meditation, according to Akshar:

  • Step 1: Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit, either on a cushion or chair, with your back straight. However, it is recommended to perform meditation while sitting on the floor with your legs crossed.
  • Step 2: Close your eyes or maintain a soft gaze, focusing your attention on your breath.
  • Step 3: Breathe naturally through your nose, allowing your belly to rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale.
  • Step 4: Focus on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your nostrils or the movement of your abdomen.
Woman during meditation
Daily meditation practice can be life-changing. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
  • Step 5: When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath without judgment.
  • Step 6: Establish an even breathing pattern by counting the length of your inhales and exhales. A common practice is to inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four.
  • Step 7: Continue this even breathing pattern for the duration of your meditation session, which can range from 5 to 30 minutes or longer. If you are a beginner, you can start with 5 minutes.
  • Step 8: Conclude your meditation by taking a few deep breaths and slowly opening your eyes. Now take a moment and notice how you are feeling.

How long should you meditate?

The ideal duration for meditation varies, but starting with 5-10 minutes daily is beneficial. Gradually increase to 20-30 minutes as you become more comfortable. “Consistency is more important than duration, so regular short sessions can be more effective than infrequent longer ones,” suggests Akshar.

What is the right place to meditate?

The right place to meditate is a quiet, comfortable space where no one would disturb you. It should be free from distractions and have a calming atmosphere. If possible, try to sit in natural light and in a clean environment to enhance the experience.

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