Benefits of Meditation100 Ways Meditation is Good for Your Health – Parade

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:49 am

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Wellness January 2, 2020 5:13 PM ByErica Sweeney Parade @ericapsweeney More by Erica

As we race from task to task and juggle lifes responsibilities, many of us strive to calm our minds and feel centered. Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help get us therein fact, the benefits of meditation are plentiful.

Meditation helps people hit the pause button, helping them become more present in a given moment, says Spring Washam, meditation educator and author of A Fierce Heart.

Its like the TV is blaring, and then we turn it off for a moment, and we just take a breath, she says. Meditation is a way that we gain that a sort of calmness and a centeredness and we connect with ourselves in that moment.

Whether its five minutes or 20 minutes, finding time to meditate throughout the day can help you feel happier and more at peace. And, your mind and body will thank you. Meditation offers a wealth of benefits to improve your physical health and well being.

Related: 10 Ways Meditation Can Fix Your Life

1. It lowers cortisol levels. Research shows that mindfulness meditation lowers levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. Reducing cortisol can decrease general stress, anxiety and depression.

2. You can better deal with stress. Meditation brings a sense of calm to the mind and body that can reduce stress, Washam says.

When the mind relaxes and lets go, the body follows, she says. We want our adrenaline and our nervous system to take a break at times, to unplug, to recycle, to rejuvenate.

3. It eases anxiety. Meditation is literally the perfect, portable anti-anxiety treatment, says health coach Traci Shoblom. Taking just a few minutes to close your eyes and do breathing exercises can turn off the mechanisms in your brain that cause anxiety.

4. It reduces depression symptoms. Depression is a series mental health condition often triggered by stress and anxiety. Research suggests meditation can change areas of the brain, including the me center and fear center, that are linked to depression. People who meditate also show increased gray matter in the brains hippocampus, responsible for memory.

5. Youll get a mood boost. Meditation helps you deal with stress, anxiety and difficult situations, which makes you happier and feel better. Were just able to deal with difficult things without letting it affect your mood, Washam says.

6. You can retrain your brain. The brain tends to develop as its used. Meditation may retrain the brain to use the prefrontal cortex, known as the me center, to regulate the amygdala, or fear center, says researcher and author Bracha Goetz.

This means that when faced with a stressor, when we are not meditating, we will have gotten in the habit of using our prefrontal cortex to direct our minds back to think more calmly and clearly focus, rather than letting our impulsive reactions direct us, Goetz says.

7. Its good for your heart. Research shows meditation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, says Chirag Shah, physician and founder of online healthcare platform Push Health. Meditation positively impacts blood pressure, heart muscle effectiveness and general cardiovascular mortality.

8. It lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure affects about 30% of U.S. adults and is considered a worldwide epidemic that heightens the risk of stroke and heart attack. Meditation may improve blood pressure naturally, without medication, research shows.

9. It enhances serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced in nerve cells that works as a natural mood stabilizer. When you meditate, youll increase serotonin levels, which Washam says acts like a natural anti-depressant.

10. Youll break bad habits. Whether its smoking or shopping too much, meditation brings awareness to your actions in that moment and help you break the cycle of a bad habit, Washam says.

Most habits form unconsciously, she says, and, Over time, (meditation) brings awareness to what were doing, so were not acting out unconsciously. Mindfulness interrupts the habit.

11. Youll strengthen relationships. Good communication, empathy and respect are the hallmarks of a strong relationship, and meditation helps improve all of those qualities. Creating a deeper connection with yourself makes relationships easier and more fulfilling, Washam says.

The moment I become present, Im available to my partner, to my friends, to myself, she says.

12. It boosts concentration. When so many things are racing through our minds at any given time, it can be tough to concentrate on tasks at work or even hobbies like reading a book. Meditation centers your mind so you can focus on what you need to get done.

13. It helps build inner strength. Weve all been stuck in traffic or in a long, boring meeting and couldnt wait to escape. Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps build inner strength and endurance to calmly get through these situations, Washam says.

It creates an ability to be in the moment no matter how it is, she says. Were just able to be with difficult things without unraveling or letting it affect you.

14. Youll learn to be present. Research shows meditation can decrease brain activity in the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain that wonders, worries and overthinks, helping us stay in the present, says Adina Mahalli, relationship expert and mental health professional at Maple Holistics.

Meditation promotes being in the present moment and focusing our thoughts, Mahalli says, explaining that meditation works the brain like a muscle. The more you meditate the more easily youre able to snap out of DMN mode and into the present.

15. Youll become comfortable in stillness. These days, most of us are always on the go and rarely take the time to calm down. Meditation can make you feel comfortable with stillness, says Josee Perron, life coach and yoga and meditation teacher.

Weve become accustomed to needing to be on the go all the time, Perron says. But, so much running around doesnt leave any time for stillness, which is the gateway to connecting with your deeper inner self.

16. It helps with brain fog. If you struggle with concentration, forget things easily and have a hard time focusing, you might have brain fog. Its often caused by stress, and a meditation practice can calm your mind and let you focus on your breath so you feel more present.

Meditation cuts through the fog because were waking up in that moment in a way, literally, Washam says. Were stopping the habitual distraction, which has effects in the brain long term.

17. Youll better handle anger. Getting angry is a natural feeling when dealing with difficult people or situations. If you act impulsively, you could make things worse, however. When you meditate, you train your brain to focus on the present, and this can help you learn to control and process your emotions in the moment.

Maybe youre upset, but you slow down and just feel your emotions, Washam says. Just that simple act of turning toward your breath creates a kind of relief in the mind.

18. You can work through grudges. Holding onto anger and reliving past wrongs in your mind takes a toll on the mind and body. To calm these feelings, Washam suggests using STOP, a mindfulnessbased meditation technique, which stands for stopping in the moment, taking a breath, observing your internal feelings and proceeding with your day.

19. Youll live in the moment. Learning to focus and live in the moment is important benefit of meditation, but its easier said than done. Often, our thoughts turn to past events or things we need or want to do in the future, and we seem to forget about the here and now.

20. It helps you cope with pain. Meditation activates areas of the brain that are associated with processing pain, so mindful breathing can help people manage chronic pain, says Megan Junchaya, health coach and founder of Vibe N Thrive. Research shows that even a short amount of meditation can boost pain tolerance and reduce pain-related anxietyand, it could possibly alleviate the need for opioid pain medication.

21. Meditation helps you relax. Learning to simply relax and keep calm under pressure are huge mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and lower blood pressure so youll feel more relaxed.

22. Youll sleep better. Most Americans dont get enough sleep, and its tough to get through the day when youre exhausted. Its also bad for your health. When you meditate, you may find yourself drifting off to sleep more easily and getting better quality sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Related: 5 Mental Health Influencers Explain Why Meditation for Sleep Really Works

23. It helps with insomnia. If you have a sleep disorder, like insomnia, meditation can be especially helpful. It reduces anxiety and retrains the brain to slow down and respond differently to stressors.

24. But, you may not need as much sleep. Meditation is not a sleep replacement, and we all need our eight hours. But, when long-term meditation practitioners spent several hours meditating, they experienced a significant drop in sleep time compared to those who dont meditate, according to a 2010 study published in Behavioral and Brain Functions.

25. Meditation teaches you to self-soothe. You will learn to work through anxiety, anger and other problems so that you dont turn to unhealthy behaviors, like drugs or alcohol, to self-soothe.

26. Youll become your own cheerleader. Meditation acts as a support system to help you through a rough time. Youll realize the value of celebrating your strengths and successes and not worrying so much about any faults or mistakes.

27. It reduces inflammation. Meditations ability to help reduce stress is well known. But, chronic stress creates inflammation in the body, which is linked with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, says Paul Claybrook, a certified nutritionist.

28. It adds balance to your life. Finding balancewhether its juggling work and home life, dealing with stress and taking some down timeis vital for our mental health and well-being. Practicing mindfulness and learning to center your thoughts will get you there.

29. Youll be more productive. Bringing more awareness to your day-to-day focuses you on the task at hand, rather than jumping around from one project to anotherand, this increases productivity, says Cory Muscara, founder of Long Island Mindfulness Center.

When were going through our day on autopilot, we miss those quick transition moments from working on a project to scrolling through our friends cat pictures on Facebook, he says. The quicker we catch these transitions, the quicker we can come back to the task at hand, and the more we can get done.

30. It boosts the immune system. Among the many health benefits of meditation is an immune system boost, says Mick Cassell, clinical hypnotherapist and founder of wellness app ThinkWell-LiveWell. Research shows that mindfulness lowers blood pressure and enhances the immune system, making you feel better and maybe even live longer.

31. It improves mental functioning. Practice meditation regularly and youll see a chain reaction that leads to better mental functioning, Cassell says. That can include becoming more relaxed, sleeping better and improving concentration, reasoning, performance and productivity.

32. Youll feel more creative. Meditation helps you dial up your creativity, which you can extend to your daily life, Cassell says. Creativity offers benefits like problem-solving, adaptability and self-confidence.

33. It makes you kind. We all need a little more kindness in our lives, and meditation can do the trick. A type of meditation, called Metta, focuses on a feelings-related practice that promotes kindness, says Stella Samuel, wellness coach at

34. It improves memory. Meditation enhances cognitive function, which can be a mood-booster and help prevent memory loss, says Brittany Ferri, occupational therapist and founder of Simplicity of Health.

35. Meditation prevents burnout. As we work longer hours and continue to add to our load of responsibilities, its easy to burn out. Practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction could actually shrink the part of the brain that causes worry and fear, and strengthens the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for personality development, research suggests.

36. Youll have a spiritual awakening. Meditation takes us to a place deep inside ourselves, which can bring feelings of love and peace. For some, that could lead to a spiritual awakening.

37. Meditation builds resilience. Focusing on all emotionshappiness, failure and regretlets you observe these feelings and experience a seat of awareness, says Sherrell Moore-Tucker, author and wellness educator.

While sitting with those feelings and experiences, inner strength is cultivated and resilience emerges, she says.

38. Your sex life will heat up. Mindfulness lets you tap into a more authentic, compassionate and honest relationship to sex, says Shauna Shapiro, clinical psychologist and author of Good Morning, I Love You. Studies show practicing mindfulness increases sexual arousal and overall sexual satisfaction, because it enhances your connection with your body.

39. It promotes mindful eating. Our relationship with food can be a complex one, and dieting or overeating can be harmful to our physical and mental health. Mindfulness helps counter your consciousness and reactivity around food, adding to the enjoyment of eating while recognizing hunger cues, Shapiro says.

As we eat mindfully, we are able to listen to the messages of our body, recognizing what foods our body wants, as well as appreciating when we feel hungry and when we become full, she says.

40. Youll become more in tune with your body. Many of us go through the day with a constant dialogue running through our minds. Meditation facilitates a direct experience, or wordless experience of pure sensation, says Brooke Nicole Smith, mindful eating expert and integrative wellness and life coach. This lets you learn to check in with the body.

41. It helps you deal with uncomfortable situations. Getting out of your comfort zone builds strength and leads to personal growth. Meditation teaches you to experience discomfort without freaking out about it, opening the door to new possibilities, where youll feel more comfortable asking for a raise, having a tough conversation or tackling anything else youve been avoiding, Smith says.

42. It could alter gene expression. Research shows that mindfulness-based meditation can lead to molecular changes in the body, which may reduce levels of pro-inflammatory genes. That means you could recover more quickly from stressful situations.

43. Meditation could help fight addiction. Practicing mindfulness lets you better control emotions, thoughts and behaviors, giving you greater control over subconscious habits and addictions, Junchaya says. Research suggests mindfulness-based interventions could treat addictions, including alcohol, smoking, opioids and other drugs.

44. Meditation fosters accountability. Self-exploration leads to self-awareness. Meditation teaches you to own up to actions and behaviors, and stop living in denial or lying to yourself about issues in your life, says Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent.

45. Youll make better decisions. Being constantly on the go means we often make impulsive decisions. Since meditation helps you slow down, you can make better decisions and fewer mistakes in your home and work life, says Sadi Khan, fitness research analyst at RunRepeat.

46. It boosts self-esteem. Meditation helps quell negative thoughts, calms the mind and reduces anxiety, helping you feel good about yourself and the decisions you make.

47. Meditation eases loneliness. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed older adults, who took part in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program, saw a decrease in pro-inflammatory gene expressionand, this reduced feelings of loneliness.

48. It improves memory. Brief meditation training has been shown to improve visuo-spatial processing, working memory and executive functioning, according to a study published in Consciousness and Cognition. After just four days of meditation training, people showed a stronger ability to pay attention longer.

49. It can alleviate PMS. Headaches, cramps, hot flashes and water retentionmeditation has been shown to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and change how you perceive period pain, according to a study published in Mindfulness.

50. Meditation may improve arthritis symptoms. Several studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction can help manage chronic pain, which is welcome news for people living with arthritis. Embracing meditation can help lessen the intensity of pain, enhance functionality and improve mood and quality of life.

51. It changes how the body responds to stress. Stressful situations happen, but meditation helps you manage your reactions to stress. Not only is this good for your health, it can also diffuses stressful moments so they dont escalate.

52. Meditation encourages movement. Meditation fosters a mind-body connection that will encourage you to get up and move. Combined with yoga, tai chi or a casual walk, meditation focuses on being present in your own body and expanding awareness during physical activity, says Lisa Ballehr, an osteopathic physician.

53. It helps you focus. Having trouble focusing on a specific task? Meditation can change that. It could be the simple act of sitting down to a good meal or pushing through a workout session, but the intent is to focus on simply that task at hand and not letting the mind wander, Ballehr says.

54. Youll become more self-confident. Once you learn that you are not your thoughts, you can finally let go of your fears, says Lucile Hernandez Rodriguez, a yoga teacher and holistic health coach. Focusing on your meditation practice helps you find stability, peace of mind and self-acceptance.

55. It promotes emotional stability. Meditation lets you focus on your mind and identify thought patterns, so that you can address them, Rodriguez says. Youll discover healthy ways to deal with your emotions and repressed feelings.

56. Youll perform better. So much focus is on productivity and getting as much done as you can in a day. Meditation can improve performance in all areas of your life. Meditation is commonly used by high-performers in every discipline, as it helps you find your state of flow and truly excel in a task, Rodriguez says.

57. Youll get in touch with your inner voice. When we calm the overactive mind through meditation, we open ourselves up to new feelings and experiences. We are able to tune into and listen to that voice within, our intuition, versus the confusing chitter chatter of our minds stories, says Tara Skubella, an earthing and meditation expert and founder of Earth Tantra.

58. Youll learn to focus your breathing. Breathing is a natural function of the body, of course, but how often do you truly focus on each breath? Meditation provides a space for us to slow and deepen our breath for more oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, Skubella says.

59. Youll make a mind-body connection. How often do we actually give ourselves permission to feel even the most subtle sensations within the body? Skubella asks. If we listen, our body will let us know what needs to be healed.

Practicing meditation provides a chance to stop and build a relationship with the body.

60. Meditation keeps your brain younger. When you focus on your breath during meditation, youre also giving the brain a boost, says Tara Huber of Take Five Meditation. Research published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement shows that regular mindfulness meditation can even slow the aging process and reverse brain aging.

61. It helps you cope with trauma. The death of a loved one or recovering from past abuse can mean dealing with trauma and grief on a daily basis. Meditation can provide emotional safety and focus, so that you can process these feelings, says meditation teacher Colette Coleman.

62. It keeps distractions away. The need for constant multitasking can have our minds scattered. A mindfulness practice pushes away distractions so that you can tackle your to-do list in a calculated way.

63. Youll simplify your life. Living peacefully in the moment not only helps you feel more present, but it relieves the pressure of having to do so much. After we adjust to the challenges of quieting ourselves and letting go of restlessness, we can feel the relief of not having to constantly do, says Connie Habash, psychotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and author of Awakening from Anxiety. This realization lets you simplify your life and find joy.

64. Youll feel more alert. Fighting drowsiness and brain fog may be a daily occurrence. Mindfulness training can improve your ability to stay continually alert over a longer period of time, says Keiland Cooper, neuroscientist at the University of California. Research shows that meditation increases activation of the prefrontal cortex, which regulates emotion and attention, and decreases activity in the amygdala, which controls fear.

65. Youll become more patient. Patience is truly a virtue, especially dealing with difficult people. Meditation allows you to become more adept at dealing with mental distractions, maintaining calm in moments of chaos, improving patience levels, increasing your tolerance of others (and yourself), and responding thoughtfully instead of reacting emotionally throughout your day, says Amber Trueblood, a marriage and family therapist and author.

66. Youll be more tolerant of others. It may be tough to see eye-to-eye with difficult co-workers or relatives with differing political views. A regular meditation practice will keep you calm in these instances so you can embrace tolerance. Its an important part of building relationships.

67. Meditation enhances your metabolism. Practicing meditation will likely inspire you to move more or take up yoga or another fitness routine. Research has also shown a link between mindfulness and an enhanced metabolism.

68. It improves digestion. The mind-body balance and reduced stress that youll experience from meditation is great for your digestive system. It could relieve symptoms of indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and other health issues.

69. Youll have more energy. Maintaining a mind-body connection and reducing stress will give you an energy boost. Meditation helps you feel less weighed down by your emotions and ready to move or take on new projects.

70. Youll have better impulse control. Through practicing mindfulness, youll learn to center your mind and focus on your breath, which helps you control your emotions and impulses.

71. Meditation releases endorphins. The practice of meditation releases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels, making you feel happier and more energetic.

72. Meditation helps curb food cravings. The self-control and stress management that you learn through practicing mindfulness could help curb food cravings and break unhealthy eating habits. It lets you tap into whats driving you to specific foods, Amber Stevens, integrative nutrition health coach and author of Food, Feelings and Freedom.

Meditation lets you master your own mind, so you can pause and ask yourself, Why is this ice cream important, and allow your mind to connect dots, she says, adding that youll be open to explore, not critique, your eating habits.

73. Meditation reduces instances of binge eating. Mindfulness meditation can decrease binge eating and emotional eating, according to a study published in Eating Behaviors.

74. Meditation could help you lose weight. Research has linked meditation to more mindful eating, a boost in metabolism and increased energy levels, which suggests that it could help with weight loss.

75. Youll better understand hunger cues. If you tend to feel peckish in the afternoons, mindfulness could help you get in touch with the real reason why. It may not be actual hunger, says Pamela Hernandez, personal trainer and health coach.

Mindfulness helps get sense how hungry they are and other emotions they are feeling that might lead them to overeat, she says. It creates a more mindful state, which gives you a better chance of pushing away from the table before you reach the stuffed feeling of overeating.

76. It helps you forget about past wrongs. Rather than letting the past define (you), fully surrender to the now and embrace your journey in its entirety without shame or guilt, says AnushaWijeyakumar, wellness coach and meditation and mindfulness educator.

Meditation helps you leave the past in the past and drown out the noise thats preventing you from experiencing inner peace, she says. Youll sever any attachment to past wrongs and move forward.

77. Youll quiet negative thoughts. Learn to let go of the past and crush negative thoughts, which may be holding you back. Replace those negative thoughts with something positive.

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Benefits of Meditation100 Ways Meditation is Good for Your Health - Parade

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:49 am

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