Practiced for several thousand years, meditation is a mind-body technique in which a person engages in quiet contemplation in order to induce a state of mental and physical tranquillity. The technique has also been shown to have a variety of health benefits, particularly for treating stress and reducing chronic pain.
Meditation has also been shown to:
- Improve brain receptivity
- Improve blood circulation
- Lower blood levels of lactic acid (associated with anxiety)
- Lower heart rate
- Regulate breathing efficiency
- Help treat Fibromyalgia
- Relieve mild depression
- Treat insomnia
- Relieve tension headaches
- Treat irritable bowel syndrome
- Relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS / PMT)
- Help control substance abuse
- and even improve productivity!
There are a number of different types of Meditation, from meditation related to religion beliefs (i.e. Buddhist meditation, Vipassana meditation, John Maine's Christian Meditation or Zen Meditation) to other schools of meditation like Transcendental Meditation (TM), Breath Meditation, and Mindfulness Meditation. Transcendental Meditation involves the repetition of a ‘mantra’, a word or sound to help yourself throughout the meditation to focus your thinking and help achieve a state of calm. Breath Meditation is as it says, concentration on breathing processes to help clear the mind. Mindfulness Meditation involves focusing on the present moment, acknowledging thoughts as they come up and observing them without judgment. This can also include a ‘body scan’ which means focusing on every part of your body and how it feels, which can be helpful for pain management as it helps tension and stress to dissolve away from that part.
Meditation in whatever form, has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, to the significance of helping the immunity systems to function more positively and by decreasing the level of ‘epinephrine’, meditation has been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and therefore help arteries to remain clear. As an additional benefit, meditation generally leaves you feel relaxed, clear headed and optimistic.