Over the last couple of months, I have been listening to a series of podcasts by a successful health and life coach who interviews a vast range of professions in their field on how to live the best and healthiest life possible. One of the questions the guest is always asked is: ‘If you could recommend just one thing people add to their lives to improve their overall wellbeing, what would that be.’ And episode after episode, week after week, I heard the same answer time and time again- Meditation.
To be perfectly honest, meditation came a little later in my own health journey. Eating well, exercise, yoga- these all took up my main focus and to a large degree, still do today. Yet meditation seems to be what ties everything together. Meditation is what completes the circle of holistic wellbeing. We spend a great deal of time and money looking after our physical health, and yet, looking after our mental and emotional health can often take a backseat. The best thing about meditation it is easy, simple, enjoyable and suitable for absolutely everyone. Everyone at every stage of the life span can benefit from a meditation practice.
If I were asked to name just a handful of positive benefits that have come from my own personal experience with meditation, I would say reduced anxiety, better sleep patterns, more clarity in my life, a greater connection to myself as well as those around me, more patience, more compassion, and a greater ability to slow down and simply be present, no matter what life offers.
Experts agree that meditation is indeed a powerful practice, and comprehensive scientific studies have shown that the deep relaxation that comes with meditation has a diverse number of benefits.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered that meditation has the power and ability to change the body on a genetic level. Long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation were shown to have far more ''disease-fighting genes.'' 'The study showed that within two months of developing a meditation practice, the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer all began to activate within the body.
Sleep disturbances affect millions of people around the world and for many, these sleep disorders are closely related to stress. A 2015 study demonstrated that meditation can help to eliminate those restless nights. The research proved that participants that followed a daily meditation practice experienced reduced levels of insomnia, fatigue and depression by the end of the six sessions.
Stress and pain are closely related. Meditation has the ability to increase pain tolerance while also decreasing anxiety, depression, and the use of pain medications. Mindfulness meditation has been used successfully as a pain management technique for people who suffer from a variety of conditions, including headaches, lower back pain, chest pain, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Lowers Blood Pressure
In the past 30 years, approximately 600 studies have been conducted worldwide on the effects of meditation on blood pressure. These studies have discovered that meditation can lower blood pressure by making the body less responsive to stress hormones, in a similar way to blood pressure-lowering medication.
When a female’s body is in constant stress, blood flow is directed towards the muscles and away from the uterus and ovaries, meaning the reproductive system does not function at its optimum level. Studies have proven that women are far more likely to conceive when they are in a relaxed state and doctors and fertility experts around the world are advising women to introduce meditation as a means to assist conception. Similarly, relaxation may also boost male fertility as stress has been shown to lower sperm count
The digestive system is one of the biological processes most affected when the body is tense and anxious. Stress can wreak havoc on the gut, causing inflammation, acid reflux, ulcers, and even food allergies. By calming the mind and body, meditation allows for a deep level of relaxation that significantly enhances the digestive system’s efficiency. Patients with IBS have found that practicing a relaxation meditation twice daily significantly improves symptoms of bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
The body is a direct reflection of the mind and it can only achieve true calm when the mind is truly calm; meditation can help to achieve this. Meditation has been shown to assist with self-acceptance, self-confidence, personal growth, and an increased sense of purpose. It can help to alleviate depression, negativity and addictions. Meditation can help to build compassion, understanding, forgiveness and overall happiness. When it comes to mental and emotional well being, meditation is one of the easiest and most effective ways to find balance, peace and contentedness.
As you can see, meditation plays a key role in holistic health, which is why it is an important component of the 21 Day Program. Meditation helps to pave the way superior wellness in body, mind and spirit. Introducing a meditation practice into your life needn’t be overwhelming nor intimidating. It doesn’t require any special equipment and is simple to learn. Try to create a practice that works for you and your lifestyle. This can be as easy as setting aside five or ten minutes each day to sit, breathe, let go and truly relax. Some days you may have more time, and other days you may have less. Some days your mind may wander while other days there is a greater sense of peace. Try rising ten minutes earlier each day and sitting quietly before your day begins. Find a space in your home or nature where you feel comfortable and can be in your own space. Dedicate this time to yourself daily, knowing that you are worthy of these moments. With so many benefits, there is every reason to embrace meditation as part of your daily life.