Meditation Health Benefits and Stress Reduction – WebMD

Posted: September 21, 2016 at 9:45 am


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Stressed out? Heres how just 20 minutes a day spent meditating can improve health.

Often thought of as a hippy-dippy practice aimed at transcendence, meditation is coming into its own as a stress-reduction technique for even the most type-A kind of people.

In 2005, for instance, severe chest pains sent Michael Mitchell to the emergency room in fear of a heart attack. It turned out to be gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Nevertheless, after checking his heart, the doctor admitted him and chastised him for not coming in sooner. That really shook me up. It was a wake-up call to have a look at my type A personality and workaholic lifestyle, says the 44-year-old Simi Valley, Calif., statistician for the Veterans Health Administration.

Go on a Meditation Retreat

By Jenn Sturiale Meditation is not a team sport. There are no teammates to help us sit on our cushions, and there are definitely no finish lines or cheering fans. Most often an intensely solitary pursuit, meditation takes us on a personal, inward journey. So then, what's the deal with meditation retreats? "In modern life, with all its disparity and emphasis on intellectual education, talking and materialism, it's rare to pause long enough to allow another focus to deepen and come into view,"...

Read the Go on a Meditation Retreat article > >

Mitchell had shrugged off his high blood pressure, but now he kicked off a personal makeover. He read books on happiness, started psychotherapy, and got more exercise. And, despite a skeptical frame of mind, Mitchell turned to meditation on the recommendation of a trusted co-worker. Within a month, he felt more relaxed -- and his blood pressure returned to normal.

Mitchells experience is borne out by studies showing that meditation not only lowers blood pressure but also can amp up your immune system -- although the mechanism isnt clear -- while improving your ability to concentrate.

Those who meditate can choose among a wide range of practices, both religious and secular. What they have in common are a narrowing of focus that shuts out the external world and usually a stilling of the body, says Charles L. Raison, MD, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Raison participated in a study that indicated that meditation improved both physical and emotional responses to stress. In the study, people who meditated regularly for six weeks showed less activation of their immune systems and less emotional distress when they were put in a stressful situation.

Stress reduction could be the key to meditations beneficial effect on health. We know stress is a contributor to all the major modern killers, Raison points out. More studies have shown improvement for fibromyalgia and even psoriasis in patients who meditate. Its hard to think of an illness in which stress and mood dont figure, Raison says.

Science hasnt yet connected the dots between what happens in the meditating brain and the immune system. But a University of Wisconsin study saw increased electrical activity in regions of the left frontal lobe, an area that tends to be more active in optimistic people, after eight weeks of training in meditation.

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Meditation Health Benefits and Stress Reduction - WebMD

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September 21st, 2016 at 9:45 am

Posted in Meditation