Namaste, Smart Moms!
Life gets hectic.
It can be messy.
It’s hard to find peace in the pig pen sometimes.
Even when you’re smart, organized, beautiful, talented, and flawless like we know we all are.
But peace is possible. No matter what’s going on around you.
Imagine yourself as Denali, “The Great One,” towering strong, unmoving, clear, and peaceful no matter what the weather patterns and world is doing around you.
Imagine being able to stay peaceful and centered in your power—a warrior goddess and high priestess of good vibes.
Well it’s totally possible.
And while it does take work and practice, it’s also soooooo worth the challenge.
So today, we’ll just cover the benefits of meditation. I plan on doing other posts soon on some different techniques and ideas surrounding this topic.
Meditation decreases and manages depression-
A study from the University of California showed that mindful meditation helped patients correct dysfunctional beliefs and decreased rumination (obsessively thinking of negative things or dwelling in your past). Both of which are associated with depression and anxiety. (1)
John Hopkins University found that meditation worked well with “high-quality” therapy (which could mean therapy/drug therapy). (3) Basically, even if you’re already sick, physically or mentally, meditation can be a great addition to current therapy. Especially as you are going through what is already a stressful or hard situation.
Researchers at the university also found evidence that mindful meditation helped by alleviating pain. Meditation was proven to help manage anxiety and depression to the same degree as anti-depressants. (3)
(Note: this is not to say that you don’t need medication or there isn’t a place for western medicine. The goal is balance and sometimes that balance includes both ideologies. Don’t ever feel like you should be able to manage on your own or that you’re weak for using medication! Don’t you dare. Got it? Ok. You do you.).
Meditation feeds your brain and helps with concentration-
Harvard did an experiment with 16 people over 8 weeks in a mindfulness course. They participated in meditations and incorporated mindfulness in their activities through the week. Afterwards, the MRI scans showed grey matter (brain cells) increase in the areas of the brain that are involved in memory, regulating emotions, perspective, self, memory, and learning. Furthermore, there are studies that show larger volumes of grey matter in front and hippocampal areas in long-term meditators. (1)
Harvard University researcher, Sara Lazar, says “cognition seems to be preserved in meditators.” (6) Those that meditate literally have more grey matter–which means more brain cells.
Meditation helps you sharpen your mind. You become more focused, and learn to live in the moment more. (2) Think of it as it learning to tame your mind. Teach it to focus. Control your thoughts. We all know how hard that is to do in the moment. Our minds just seem to drift wherever and stress pulls us apart at will. Meditation helps us develop appropriate thought control and the ability to concentrate on the positive and the present.
Meditation reduces stress and impacts physical health beneficially-
Meditation also reduces stress, which is considered a major killer in our society. (4) Science is still connecting the dots between stress, mood, and disease, but studies seem to point to a deeper connection we’re just barely understanding. However, we seem to have known intuitively all along. Practicing meditation keeps you in a healthier perspective, keeps you in the moment, keeps you optimistic and more likely to go with the flow. Likewise, it keeps you stress-free, realizing you have the power to react to the events that happen. You are in charge and it’s realistically one of the only things you can control in life. So smile and flow like a river, moving along with obstacles with ease and grace.
Meditation encourages a healthy lifestyle. It allows you to feel more connected and loving towards your body, which encourages better exercise and food choices. (6) As you feel happier and more at peace, your desire to eat or use drugs for emotional gratification lowers.
WebMd tells of a man’s experience with high blood pressure and a reflux disease. All from a lifetime of stress and being a “type A personality.” However, once he started incorporating exercise, meditation, and the art of living a relaxed, mindful lifestyle, his blood pressure returned to normal, and he felt better overall. (4) Meditation helps you relax which increases nitric oxide, causing blood vessels to open and your blood pressure to drop. (6) Pretty neat!
Meditation sharpens memory, improves your immunity, lowers inflammation, and decreases pain. (5)
A study demonstrated that individuals who practiced yoga and meditation had “improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resiliency.” (1) And this basically means that they developed higher immunity, and stress resilience. Times of great stress deplete vitamins/minerals in our bodies and lower the efficiency of our immune systems.
Even more cool, it makes you happier! And happier = better health.
Meditation increases happiness-
How? Studies have shown that with meditation, brain activity increases on the left side of the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for positive emotions. The right side is responsible for the negative and meditation also decreases activity on that side. (6)
It also increases your self-awareness and acceptance. You learn to accept things as they are, just as they exist. Things exist outside of whether it is good or bad for you. Furthermore, you realize that it’s up to you to react to life and the events that happen. You can choose to be happy or sad. That’s pretty powerful! Find your way back to yourself. Away from the ego, away from the contrived limitations of society. Ground yourself in the reality of how amazing it is just to be alive! You literally have everything you need right here and now to be happy. Sometimes just realizing your own power is so much more than enough.
These are some great, main benefits of meditation and there are so much more! I think this just brushes the surface on why we should try to find zen in our crazy lives. I invite you to check out the sources I used to learn more. It’s really fascinating and worth looking into.
Until we meet again, Smart Moms…Have a beautiful day.
You can start by meditating!