Meditation is key, especially in our stressful 21st-century lifestyle. There`s a story that says that while lecturing at Harvard in the early 1900s, William James, the great American psychologist, stopped and told one of his audience – who was a visiting Buddhist monk – “Take my chair. You are better equipped to lecture on psychology than I. This is the psychology everybody will be studying twenty-five years from now.”
I’ve researched six scientific benefits to mediation that should convince you—if you’re not on board, already—to give meditation a try. Here they are:
1. Better Workplace Focus and Productivity
Staying relaxed also helps in business. When Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, was asked about how he managed to pull his shit together during the 9/11 attacks he said his father taught him to be the calmest man in the room when things go crazy. This makes lots of sense, especially to Professor Christopher Lyddy from Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management.
“Historically, companies have been reticent to offer mindfulness training because it was seen as something fluffy, esoteric and spiritual. But that’s changing.” Says Lyddy. Companies like Google and Nike have meditation rooms where employees can sit and recharge for a while. Although you may not work at one of those companies, you can still set a few minutes for cubicle meditation.
2. Reduces Anxiety
Mindful meditation is one of 16 great ways studies found that will make you feel more relaxed, but it goes beyond relieving your normal work-day stress. Can you imagine that even a single mindfulness meditation session can reduce anxiety? Yes, that`s what researchers at Michigan Technological University found recently. John J. Durocher, PhD., the lead study author found that the anxiety levels of the 14 participants he, and his team examined, had decreased in no longer than an hour after meditating and was much lower one week later.
3. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Seventy-five million Americans have high blood pressure which – if left unnoticed or untreated – can damage your blood vessels and internal organs and lead to strokes and other heart diseases. Fortunately, and according to research, meditation can bring your blood pressure to its normal levels.
One study by Ohio State University found that 2.5 hours of meditation and yoga can decrease one`s Systolic blood pressure by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) which is 83 percent more than the control group. The same findings were confirmed in a study by the University of Kentucky which found that meditation can reduce both the Systolic and Diastolic blood pressures by 4.7 mm and 3.2 mm respectively.
4. Fewer Cravings
Meditation improves self-awareness and gives you a much better understanding of yourself over the long term. Better, it gives you discipline which is what you need to change many compulsive behaviors like overeating and overdrinking. One study by Washington University found that recovered alcoholics were much better at overcoming cravings when they enrolled in a 16-week meditation program. Another study by City University in London found that using mindfulness against overeating almost brought an immediate reduction in cravings and led to fewer relapses.
5. Treats Insomnia and Makes you Sleep Better
Insomnia is epidemic. Thirty percent of people in England have severe sleeping disorders. Another study in Australia found that 90 percent of the citizens had sleeping problems at some point in their lives. Fortunately, mediation can be a solution. Many studies have found meditation to improve your sleep quality.
According to Ramadevi Gourineni, MD, director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Ill, “Teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night.” Another study by the University of Southern California found that it’s much easier to beat midnight over-thinking after six weeks of practicing meditation twice a week.
6. Great for Old People
“Research suggests that mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention for improving the health of older adults,” said J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.
Meditation provides the following benefits to old people:
- It decreases loneliness – which is one of the major causes of heart diseases.
- It can help reverse early memory loss in adults. According to a study by West Virginia University, practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation 12 minutes/day for 12 weeks improved the cognition and memory for 60 older adults over the course of six following months.
- Eases chronic pain. According to this study, people who meditate are less sensitive to pain and have more active pain-controlling brain areas. Another two studies suggest that meditation is excellent at reducing chronic neck pain and plays a great role in relieving rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
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