Health Benefits of Meditation
Healthy Living

Health Benefits of Meditation

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 15 Dec 2015 - 15:28

meditate4

Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind similar to the fitness approach to train the body. It is believed that meditation initiated in India with the primal documented records of the practice educing from the teachings of Vedantism - an ancient Hindu philosophy.

Although meditation was traditionally practiced to stimulate a deeper religious and spiritual understanding, it has now become a popular method of relaxation and reducing stress and a way to achieve several other health benefits.

There are many forms of meditation, with most of them falling into the following four groups of meditation: concentrative, open awareness, mindfulness and guided meditation.

Health Benefits of Meditation

Meditation helps deal with various conditions that include:

1) Brain aging and memory

A study involving 100 individuals showed that those who pursued meditation had reduced gray matter loss in certain brain regions, as compared with those who did not.  Another study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2012, mantra-based meditation, a form of concentrative meditation in which a word, phrase or sound is repeated to prevent distracting thoughts, when done for 8 weeks for 12 minutes  everyday helped improve the cognitive function of older citizens. 

2) Chronic pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain that last for at least 12 weeks or more. A latest study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that individuals who indulged in mindfulness meditation showed a 44% reduction in emotional response to physical pain and a 27% reduction in pain intensity. "We believe that as little as four 20-minute daily sessions of mindfulness meditation could enhance pain treatment in a clinical setting," said lead author Dr Fadel Zeidan, an assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

3) Helps quit smoking

A study published this year in Trends in Cognitive Sciences showed that meditation could work wonders for those smokers who have no willpower. Researchers found that undergraduate students who smoked showed a 60% reduction in smoking in two weeks after participating in mindfulness meditation sessions.

4) Stomach upset

Studies indicate that meditation may be beneficial in dealing with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)-that causes pain and discomfort in the abdomen. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, found that mindfulness meditation helped reduce the severity and symptoms of IBS.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) :

Scientists say that regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation - a mantra-based technique derived about 50 years ago from ancient Indian practices - produced significant effects on the mind and body of the person such as:

5) Improved Creativity

Deep, transcending silence has stirred into existence some astonishingly beautiful works of painting, sculpture, and photography. Meditation leads to higher brain integration, which in turn sets the basis for mental alertness, original thought and creative problem-solving skills.

"To find the best ideas you have to go deep within yourself. To do this I practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day, every day. I believe it keeps the ideas coming." – Olivia Locher, photographer:

6) Improved Intelligence

If you thought you have limited intelligence since birth and nothing can be done about it, think again. Regular practice of TM helps improve the functions of enhancing your intellectual abilities over time according to a study. Just 20 minutes, twice a day, every day can show implicit and explicit results.

Meditation improves the functions enhancing one’s intellectual abilities. It helps relieve stress and improve overall well-being which leads to better cognitive performance. A 45-week study with 25 experimental and 25 controls among elementary school students showed increase in components of self-concept, analytical ability and general intellectual performance among participants. The practice of TM was found to accelerate natural awareness at a deeper level – the thinking level versus the perceptual level.

7) Longer Life

Mortality rates from various fatal heart conditions were cut by 48% with regular practice of meditation according to a study. In the randomized, controlled trial, 201 overweight African American heart patients were followed up for 5 years. The end results showed that patients doing regular Transcendental Meditation practice were 48 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or die than men and women with similar physical conditions.

This outcome is to a large extent caused by the positive effect of Transcendental Meditation practice on blood pressure, stress levels, and overall well-being. Robert Schneider, the lead researcher of the study conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, explained, "It appears that Transcendental Meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy – to repair and maintain itself."

8) Good Leadership

A calm mind will have better clarity, and a clear mind is the way to better thinking and wisdom,  which is the true basis of success. All these aspects would be of great help to businessmen or macro-economic strategists. As the mind settles, clarity and wisdom emerge. The results would bring benefits not only to the individual concerned, but to all the colleagues, employees, business partners and citizens involved.  The business community has begun to recognize this truth.

When stock and bond markets took a dive in late January, hedge fund manager David Ford stayed calm. With dropping prices, he overcame the impulse to escape from the situation like the rest of them and, instead, bought more corporate bonds, as reported by Bloomberg Pursuits.

After two decades as a trader, Ford credits his serenity to experience – and to the 20 minutes he spends each morning in meditation. "I react to volatile markets much more calmly now," says Mr Ford, 48. "I have more patience."

9) Better Relationships

Reacting to stress inhibits cognitive processes underlying a harmonious and healthy relationship such as empathy, self-regulation, processing of information rationally etc. As a means of reducing stress, practicing TM also facilitates improvements in the area of relationships.  Practicing 20 minutes of meditation twice a day, relaxes the nervous system and helps to recover better.

Three months of practicing TM brings significant improvement in professional and personal relationships, based on increased happiness and reduced stress.

One research found that the effect of Transcendental Meditation practice is also cumulative over time in the positive direction. A study comparing families with long term Transcendental Meditation practice (5 years or more) and short term TM practice (1 year or less) found higher results on scales measuring healthy family functioning for the long-term  group

People who practice Transcendental Meditation respond mildly to stress and also recover quicker from stress reaction.

Charles Francies - author of the book, "Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace," - says that more people should use meditation to improve their overall health, which, in turn, could have a positive impact on health care services.

 

Journal: Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2012, Journal of Neuroscience, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

*Disclaimer: This website serves as informational purpose only. The content on the DesiMD website, including text, graphics, images, etc., and other content on the DesiMD are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the DesiMD website. In case of a medical emergency, call your physician or the hospital immediately. DesiMD does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned on the site. Reliance on any information provided by DesiMD at the invitation of DesiMD, or other visitors to the site is solely at your own risk.