Ten Great Reasons Why You Should Meditate
Integrative GP Ameeta Gajjar gives you 10 great benefits of meditation
Start off with just 5-10 minutes a day. You will be surprised at the far reaching benefits.
The history of meditation dates back to China and India, as far back as 5000BC and 1500BC respectively. Now there is a plethora of evidence to prove that meditation works. The benefits of meditation are huge for such a small price in terms of time – a great “ROI- return on investment”. Once again, it’s about making time (just 5-10m to start off with). The meditation experience will be different for each individual. Buddha stated that there are 80,000 different ways to meditate! So if one method doesn’t work, well – you’ve got plenty more to try!
Here are 10 good reasons to meditate:
1. CHRONIC DISEASE
A significant study conducted at Harvard Medical School, led by Dr Herbert Benson (Associate Professor of Medicine) a few years ago found that those who meditated regularly had a higher number of “disease-fighting genes”- compared to those who did none. This was especially so in the case of high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, infertility and pain.
”We found a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group,” said Dr Benson.
Changes were evident after a couple of months of regular practice. So, it is NEVER EVER too late to start.
2. STRESS RELIEF
One particular part of the nervous system, the parasympathetic system, is activated when we are deeply relaxed through meditation This enhances muscle relaxation and aids digestion. The parasympathetic system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system which gives us the “fight or flight” response during times of any sort of stress in our lives. The fight/flight response is a survival mechanism ensuring blood flows to the critical organs like the heart and brain and less to the gut. Hence the indigestion link with stress.
Meditation also helps to release the feel good neurotransmitters – dopamine, serotonin and our natural endorphins.
3. IMMUNE SYSTEM
Meditation increases the production of Natural Killer cells (NK cells). A study done in Ohio University, showed an increase in NK cells after a month of regular meditation – giving the subjects more immunity against viral infection as well as tumours.
Another study done at the same University found that Progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) done daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
4. ANTI- AGING
Meditation is known to be a highly regenerative process. It reduces physiological age.
Again, many mechanisms are involved in this. One mechanism is the fact that more growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland when meditating – and this is an anti aging hormone.
5. INTELLIGENCE & CREATIVITY
Studies have shown that children who meditated had better performance in schools, more creativity and higher productivity.
A study done by the Kyoto Convention Bureau found that people who meditated prior to business meetings were more focused, listened better and retained more information than those who didn’t. Even meditating for a few minutes before important meetings had a beneficial effect.
Various symptoms can be reduced with meditation- depression, anxiety, anger & fear. As mentioned above, this is partly to do with feel-good hormones being released – dopamine, serotonin.
Various studies including one done in Western Australia have shown that women were more likely to conceive when they were relaxed than when they are stressed. Again, this is an interplay of various factors including hormones levels such as cortisol.
8. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME
Many studies have shown that IBS symptoms (esp – bloating, cramps) are improved through regular meditation. The subjects in one particular study were followed up after 3 and 12 months and found that the symptom relief was ongoing even after a year. Hence, meditation can help for both short term and long term symptom control.
The value of mediation and related techniques has been widely studied and proven in reducing pain, sleep problems, tiredness, anxiety and depression – in cancer patients.
A study published in PsychoOncology also showed that quality of life was improved in patients with breast and prostate cancer.
10. PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION
Meditation allows one to live more in the “now” and “let go of the past”. It allows one to question their existence and their purpose. It allows one to look at things more objectively, with more clarity and with a cool, calm approach- the “silent observer” if you will.
Happiness is about being in the “now”, not in the past or the future. That is where it resides. And that is where the treasures can be found.