What Meditation Can Do For Your Mind and Body
After weeks of working from home and scrolling through hundreds of self-care solutions that have popped up to calm our anxious souls, we’re sure you’ve come across the idea of meditation. But with so many things to add into our self-care calendar, the whole process can feel anxiety-inducing on its own. After all, if we’re exercising, journaling and socializing (virtually) on top of our usual tasks, do we really need to add in meditation?
Rest assured, we’re not here to tell you how to spend your time, because one of the best aspects of meditation is its lack of judgment. But we are here to show you just how beneficial it can be for your mind and body, as proven by science.
In a time where staying home is the best thing we can do for our communities, but both of our mental and physical states are also at risk, meditation might just be the hobby/medicine you need.
Proven Scientific Benefits of Meditation
Anxiety and feelings of depression are increasingly plaguing our overly-stimulated minds. One of meditation’s most powerful effects is its ability to regulate our mental state and calm our negative thinking – there’s a reason we associate meditators with being zen at all times.
In a study that compared the quality of life between a meditation group and a control group, researchers found that meditation not only drastically improved quality of life and blood pressure, but also significantly dropped anxiety levels. Another study where 22 patients with anxiety disorders went through 8 weeks of guided mindfulness meditation found that meditators showed significant improvement in both subjective and objective symptoms of anxiety. Plus, a 3-year follow up brought up even more evidence that maintaining these habits has long-term benefits.
In short, if you’re looking for a dependable way to quiet your anxious mind both for now and for the future, meditation is one of your best and safest bets.
Strengthens Our Brains
In case you’re thinking that the benefits of meditation are only temporary, don’t underestimate just how adaptive our brains can be. Neuroplasticity, the idea that our brains can be rewired and changed on a cellular level, is now widely accepted by the scientific community as a part of our physiology. And studies have shown that meditation can increase neuroplasticity, which can improve our neural networks in a meaningful way.
Additionally, researchers found that mindfulness meditation can even make our brains bigger by increasing the concentration of our brain gray matter in certain areas. This can positively change how we emotionally respond to outside events, which is becoming an increasingly important skill in these chaotic times. If you think of our brain as a muscle, meditation is pretty much the best exercise there is for it, making it both stronger and more resilient.
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When it comes to inflammation, it’s easy to overlook the effects of mental stress in place of other habits like our diet or lack of sleep. After all, they’re just thoughts, right?
Well, no. Scientists have found that psychological stress is actually one of the biggest causes for chronic inflammation. This is because when our mind is stressed out, our body does not have the capacity to attend to areas of inflammation quickly.
A study that compared the effects of 8 weeks of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) to another form of health program saw that those who did MBSR showed significantly smaller post-stress inflammatory response than the other group. Amazingly, by cleansing our mind through meditation, we can actually control our body’s inflammatory responses.
Encourages Better Sleep
Sleep disturbance is another common issue in modern life, affecting nearly 75% of Americans. With so many of us spending the majority of our time in front of computer screens, getting good, restful sleep has only become more difficult.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be an effective treatment for insomnia, which probably isn’t surprising considering how well it lowers anxiety. However, scientists also theorize that mindfulness therapy allows people to be more aware of their current state of mind, which empowers them to find adaptive ways to combat undesirable states. By being more mindful, people can actively change their relationship to sleep in a positive way.
Improves Our Sex Life
Meditation’s effect on our sex life is often overshadowed by its stress-reducing abilities, but the two are actually directly related. The three biggest killers of our libido are anxiety, depression and distraction, which are conveniently the three main issues that meditation tackles. When we meditate, we are naturally more present and energetic, which is essential to great sex.
In addition to that, meditation has been connected to higher levels of DHEA, an important hormone that has strong connections to our sexual health and longevity. Our body’s level of DHEA naturally decreases over time after we reach adulthood. Luckily for meditators, scientists have found that meditators have 43.77% more DHEA than those who don’t meditate. This may be why meditation has been touted as a promising treatment for women who struggle with sexual desire.
Increase Our Pain Tolerance
If you’ve been looking for a natural alternative to painkillers, may we suggest meditation? It might seem strange that we can meditate our pain away, but studies have shown that this is possible. In fact, those who meditate can tolerate much more pain than other people, and their pain tolerance is directly related to the number of hours that they meditate.
For those of us who have suffered through period pains on a monthly basis, we know how crippling uncontrollable pain can be. With persistence and patience, meditation can potentially be a promising alternative to our conventional painkillers!
How to Start Meditating
Meditation can be a confusing topic to breach into because there are just so many different ways to do it. Even the goal of meditation can look very different from person to person, or from class to class. Though there are general themes that weave across different types of meditation, there isn’t really one correct way to do it. The key is to drop all judgment and remember that if you’re learning to meditate, you’re halfway there already.
The simplest way to start meditating is to find a comfortable seat and have a few minutes of silence with your eyes closed. Start with 5 minutes, and you can eventually work your way up to 15, 30, or even 60 minutes of silence. Guided meditations are great for beginners or meditators who have a specific goal, like intention-setting, garnering self-love, or finding peace during a turbulent time. Focusing on your breath by counting them is another way to begin if you’re too easily distracted.
The goal of meditation is to dedicate time to cleansing and decluttering your mind – how you do it is not super important. Our body needs to be exercised to remain healthy and our brain is no exception. Here’s to finding our own calm in the midst of our stormy world!
NannoPad may not help with your mental health, but it has been proven effective by 75% of women to relieve their menstrual discomfort. Helping to put both your mind and body at ease during periods. Read reviews here.