Meditation for Mind and Body
Meditation was first developed in India, and has become popularized in western countries over the years. Besides being cost effective and great for your overall well being, meditation is a form of self-care you can take with you wherever you go.
What are the physical benefits of meditation?
Although a lot of research has been done on the mental and emotional perks of regular meditation, there have also been plenty of promising studies on the positive impact meditation can have on physical ailments. For individuals with chronic pain and/or chronic health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or migraines, regular meditation has been found to decrease the level of pain, or at least the perception of the level of pain an individual is experiencing. It’s worth noting that conditions like these are exacerbated by stress, so by lowering the stress level through meditation the symptoms can be more effectively managed. Meditation also reduces blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and improves impulse control which can help fight drug, alcohol, or other addictions.
What are the mental benefits of meditation?
Another exciting effect of meditation is the promise it shows for boosting cognition and slowing age-related memory loss. During focused meditation, blood flow to the brain increases, strengthening the areas of the brain responsible for focus and memory. It’s probable that long-term meditation can actually alter the structure of the frontal cortex, keeping your mind younger for longer. For someone who is experiencing dementia, the stress-lowering effect of meditation can also be very helpful.
What are the emotional benefits of meditation?
The majority of meditation research has been focused on its ability to treat symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. In an especially promising study, meditation was found to help reduce symptoms of PTSD. In subtler terms, meditation is unique in that it pushes you to become more in touch with yourself and expands your mental toughness, which can translate good habits into many other areas of life, like increasing your ability to focus on work, reading, or a hobby you enjoy.
How do I start my own meditation practice?
When you’re first learning to meditate, be patient with yourself! Meditation is a very personal practice, so it’s important to think about what your goals for meditation are and then to find a way to meditate that works best for you. Start with a quiet environment (or use noise-canceling headphones). You can also meditate to soft music, or use an app that guides you through the process. Next, choose a position that is comfortable for you, whether you stand, sit, or lie down. Close your eyes, and focus your attention on your breathing and the way your body feels. Most people actually find meditation to be very difficult at first, because the level of concentration required is a very foreign concept in a society that champions multitasking and almost-constant productivity. With time and practice, your ability to focus your attention becomes a more conscious choice.
Part of our mission as an integrative healthcare center is to explore and implement alternative ways to heal. Health is so much more complex than surface symptoms you experience, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. As a small practice, we have the ability to devote our full attention to each individual patient to help them discover their own path to managing their health, whatever that may be.