The Benefits of Incorporating Meditation into Your Life

meditation pose

The art of meditation dates back to the ancient times. More specifically, there is proof that Indian artifacts related to meditation, called “Tantra,” dates back as far as 5000 years.

Researchers surmise that primitive hunting and gathering societies may have discovered meditation and, the many different states of consciousness, while staring into the flames of their fires. From that point forward, meditation has evolved into a structured practice that millions of individuals practice daily. One of the largest proponents related to the history of meditation is the Buddha. The Buddha is also recognized as one of the primary meditation icons throughout the history of meditation and dates back to 500 B.C..

The teaching of the Buddha became widespread across the continent of Asia and according to the history of meditation, other countries soon began to adopt the principles of meditation. From this point forward, many of the adopting countries began to create variations in their practice of meditation. Today, the most popular forms of meditation are the Buddhist and the Hindu based Easter styles.

Once meditation spread through the East, thousands of years passed before it hit the shores of the Western societies. In fact, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that meditation actually began to gain popularity in the West. In the 1960's and 1970's several western researchers and professors studied the art and found that there were a multitude of physical and mental benefits associated with regularly practicing meditation.

Uses for Meditation

In general, meditation is the practice of achieving, and balancing, the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of one's existence. Today, meditation is used to reduce, or eliminate, the symptoms associated with depression, stress, and anxiety. The "deep rest" that is achieved through the practice of meditation can eliminate stress and, confusion, and uncertainty and allows the individual to make better decisions through clearer and more focused thinking. In addition, in many cases, meditation has been proven to improve self esteem in individuals with low self confidence.

Another common reason for many individuals that practice meditation is to reduce the intensity of trying to quit several forms of addiction, including smoking, alcohol, and drugs. Studies have also concluded that individuals that regularly practice meditation have been able to successfully lower their blood pressure and reduce symptoms associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome.

In addition, meditation promotes a lowing of the heart rate and level of blood pressure by decreasing the rate at which an individual breathes, which, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen required by the body. Finally, meditation allows the mind and the muscles of the human body to gradually and gently relax; causing a feeling of calmness and serenity.

The art of meditation has been time tested and is directly responsible for providing several physical and mental benefits when practiced with regularity. The practice of meditation provides a great deal of flexibility in that it can be practiced in many different places.

As previously mentioned, there are countless health, fitness, and mental well-being benefits associated with practicing the art of meditation. As an effective stress reliever and a way to improve focus and thought, meditation can ease the pain and discomfort associated with several minor mental conditions and actually greatly reduce, or prevent, the symptoms associated with many major psychological conditions. In addition, the physiological benefits associated with performing a meditation routine with regularity are not only vast, but, in some cases, can be life saving as well.

Provided below are just of few of the health, fitness, and mental well-being benefits associated with regularly practicing meditation.

Physiological Benefits

    meditation pose
  1. Lowers Blood Pressure: Clinical studies have shown that regularly practicing meditation can assist with lowering blood pressure levels in individuals who suffer from high blood pressure.

  2. Reduces Anxiety Levels: Anxiety attacks have been shown to be far less common in individuals that regularly practice meditation. In addition, the severity of the anxiety attaches that did occur were reduced in their level of intensity.

  3. Assists in Reducing Pain Associated with Arthritis: Many practitioners claim that meditation is a very valuable tool in easing the pain associated with arthritis.

  4. Strengthens Immune System: Some promising studies have concluded that individuals that regularly practice the art of meditation have much stronger immune systems when compared to those that do not. One key reason for this is that continuous activity without a break places a high level of stress on the body's ability to protect itself from illness and infections.

  5. Reduces Muscle and Joint Tension: Individuals that regularly experience tense muscles or joints often find meditation to be a valuable agent in the reduction of the tense body parts.

  6. Reduces and/or Eliminates Headaches: Meditation has often been shown to reduce or eliminate the pain associated with headaches and, in some instances, even migraines. Meditation promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation that may completely eliminate, or at least reduce, the pain associated with a headache.

  7. Promotes Safe and Effective Weight Loss: Many individuals that are trying to successfully lose weight have found that meditation has greatly improved their chances of achieving their personal weight loss goals. Several studies have successfully concluded that meditation was very effective in controlling ideal weight levels, reducing binge eating and cravings, and revitalizing low motivation levels and focus.

  8. Improves Lung Capacity and Function: The deep and soothing breathing techniques associated with meditation are often successful in the improvement of air flow and at increasing lung capacity. A recent wind musician's survey showed that meditation was successful at increasing lung capacity by 5% in only two weeks of regular practice.

  9. Lowers Cholesterol Levels: According to a recent medical study, the vast majority of individuals that regularly practiced meditation showed a greater reduction in cholesterol levels when compared to individuals that did not practice meditation.

  10. Strengthens and Improves Central Nervous System: The decreased level of electrical activity in the brain of individuals that regularly practice meditation has frequently been shown to increase the function of the central nervous system and increase central nervous system reaction time.

Psychological Benefits

    Meditation pose
  1. Increases Focus and Concentration: By allowing the brain time to relax, meditation has the ability to greatly increase focus and concentration. By meditating before undertaking a large project or physical activity, individuals can ensure that they will be able to perform the functions of the activity more effectively.

  2. Improves Emotional Stability: Individuals that regularly meditate have been shown to be less likely to experience anxiety, stress, minor depression, and other mental conditions like bipolar syndrome.

  3. Improves Memory: By relaxing the brain, meditation has often been shown to increase memory in the participant.

    In fact, early tests results have shown promising results, meditation in conjunction with prescription drugs, to reduce or delay the effects of Alzheimer's disease.

  4. Improves Problem Solving Capability: Meditation is often helpful in dealing with a minor problem or resolving an issue without turning to more drastic measures that may be unnecessary. This improved ability to truly think through situations appears to even reduce the levels of stress that an individual feels.

  5. Improves Ability to Learn and Gain Intelligence: Individuals that meditate are often shown to have higher brain function in the ability to receive and process information.

  6. Reduces Probability of Road Rage: Using meditation as a preventative measure before driving or by pulling over and meditating when road rage begins to appear can be very helpful in the reduction of stress associated with automobile operation.

  7. Reduces, or Eliminates, Insomnia: Meditation can be very beneficial in curing insomnia and assisting the individual in falling asleep faster. Meditation may also assist individuals in sleeping more soundly when at rest.

  8. Increases Probability of Quitting Bad Habits: Studies have shown that meditation can be very helpful in the reduction of the need to smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or binge or overeat. For this reason, it is highly recommended that individuals that are trying to quit an unhealthy habit add meditation to their daily routine.

  9. Increases the Release of Serotonin: Meditation has often been shown to be effective in promoting an increased level of serotonin production from the brain. Serotonin has been proven to reduce the symptoms associated with mild depression.

  10. Improves Interactions with Individuals and Relationships: Individuals may want to practice meditation in order to be a better friend or partner. Meditation has been shown to be an excellent activity for centering and calming the mind, thus, reducing the probability of a discussion escalating to a level of high intensity.

Spiritual Benefits

    meditating outside
  1. Promotes Religious Sentiment: Meditation, especially when coupled with a faith based religion that embraces the concepts of meditation, assists the individual in their ability to live by the teachings of their particular faith and achieve their religious goals and aspirations.

  2. Stimulates Contemplation, Thought, and Complex Thinking : As an individual grows in their faith, meditation can be effective in allowing them to contemplate their various views and reasons for their faith and the ultimate sacrifices that they may need to make in order to abide by their faithfulness. In addition, meditation promotes mental clarity, calmness, and a centering of the mind that allows for clear and complex thinking to occur.

  3. Promotes Forgiveness: Individuals may find themselves more likely to forgive individuals that have treated them badly if they take the time to reflect on the circumstances and allow themselves to achieve inner peace. In the event that the individual decides not to forgive the individual, they may feel better after pondering the specific circumstances.

  4. Reduces Mental Stress Associated with Death: In a religious approach to death, meditation can assist individuals in obtaining a better understanding and willingness to accept one of the few things in life that everyone must absolutely do. In addition, the increase in faith that is required to accept death in a religious way is much more accessible with meditation.

  5. Strengthens Religious Faith: If an individual supports the idea of a supreme being, they may find that meditation promotes a good opportunity to promote a better connection with that being. In many religions, prayer is actually a form of meditation that is regularly used.

  6. Promotes a "Living for the Now" Mentality: Many individuals find meditation to be a great way to focus on current events rather than worrying about what will happen in the future. In religious contemplation associated with meditation, it is important to remain focused on the present events rather than obsessing about the future.

All in all, adding a meditation routine, that is practiced with regularity, to any lifestyle is an excellent idea. While it is true that a meditation routine will not significantly improve cardiovascular endurance, increase lean muscle mass, promote weight loss, or improve flexibility or coordination; meditation will produce significant results in terms of mental stability, calmness, and a whole host of additional physical and mental benefits.

It is best to view the addition of a meditation routine to one's lifestyle as a supplemental routine that works in parallel with a healthy diet and an exercise routine that focuses on improving your cardiovascular endurance and increases your lean muscle mass at the same time.

Meditation pose

The art of meditation has been practiced for 1,000's of years and has easily passed the test of time. Meditation calms, clears, and centers the mind and improves the relationship and connection between the mind and body. This being said, meditation is an activity that is mentally and physically beneficial to virtually everyone and can readily be practiced by virtually anyone.

Probably the single most important item to remember when beginning a meditation routine is that it will take time to learn to effectively clear your mind and reach a state of calmness.

In the beginning, this failure to achieve a state of calmness may create a level of frustration that will only serve to make it more difficult to achieve. To this end, always remember that just like it takes time to effectively lose weight or gain lean muscle mass, learning to effectively clear and relax your mind will take time as well.

However, once you effectively learn how to meditate you will find that the mental and physical benefits were well worth the effort. In addition, it will be at this point where you will most likely allocate time in your daily routine to regularly practice meditation.