by Erien W. Fryer M.Div., MSW, Certified Life, Health and Wellness Coach
How Meditation Can Improve Your Health
The most common image of meditation is one of a monk in a religious experience. However, meditation is actually a practice that anyone can do to improve mental function and overall health.
Meditation has been proven to reduce stress levels and it can even help with conditions such as high blood pressure. Once you’ve become more calm and peaceful through meditation, your life will open up to more opportunities and you’ll find it easier to make healthy choices.
What Exactly Is Meditation?
Meditation is a way of clearing the mind. Once you’ve gotten into a habit of meditating often, you’ll discover that it’s easier than you think.
Some people sit in a cross-legged position when they meditate, but this isn’t mandatory. Another sitting position might be more comfortable for you, but the key is to maintain a good posture. If you slouch, you’re more likely to get tired and feel like falling asleep.
To get started, find a quiet place and get comfortable. Then start taking deep breaths in and out. Pay attention to your breath. You might find it helpful to say a “mantra” to yourself as you breathe in and out. Your goal is to keep your mind clear of thoughts.
Thoughts are inevitable though. The best way to eliminate them is to recognize that you’ve had a thought and then focus on your breathing and clearing your mind again. This will get easier with frequent practice.
When you focus on breathing and clearing your mind, you’re actually centered on the present moment. On the other hand, stress arises when you think about something in the past or future.
Since you have little stress when you have a clear mind in the present moment, you exude calmness. When you practice this often, you can bring a calm, stress-free demeanor to your everyday life.
Stress And The Body
When you feel stressed, you put your body into overdrive. When it’s overworked, it’s more open to various diseases and disorders. Stress exists for a reason; you need to have the hormonal adrenalin rush and increased breathing and heart rate in order to escape threatening situations. It’s simply how you’re able to handle threats.
By always having your mind on past or future stressors, you keep your mind and body in a stressful state even when you aren’t enduring a stressful situation in the present. This is exactly why it’s important to give your body a much-needed break from all the stress. When you learn to meditate often, you’re giving your body the energy and rest it needs to stave off exhaustion and disease.
Improving Your Health
The absence of overwhelming stress improves your health in many ways. You’ll likely enjoy lower blood pressure and a strengthened immune system. Stress can also lead to mental disorders, so when you strive to be stress-free, you’ll keep anxiety and depression away as well.
When you meditate, you place your body in a kind of sleep state. You’re still awake, but your body can begin to repair itself in the same way that it does when you sleep. If you meditate in the morning or at night, you can help yourself transition from sleeping to wakefulness and vice versa.
Meditation is the ultimate exercise for a healthy mind and body. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated once you’ve given it a try. Who knew that “just sitting” could be so helpful!