All the ways meditation benefits your body and health.
It’s official: meditation has gone mainstream. Everyone from doctors to yogis to scientists now agree that this ancient practice can change your life for the better – in just a few minutes a day.
What you may not know, though, is just how much meditation can help you. Here are some surprising head-to-toe benefits that will make you want to turn off the lights and take a deep dive right now:
1. Your brain
The most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University were astonished when they saw the results of a recent 8-week mindfulness meditation program. For the first time in medical history, the team’s MRI scans documented how meditation produces massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter.
The study demonstrates that crippling stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program – but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala. This finding opens doors to many possibilities for further research on mindfulness-based stress reduction and its potential to protect against stress-related disorders – like post-traumatic stress disorder which plagues almost 5.2 million adults a year in the U.S. alone.
2. Your heart
In 2012, Time magazine published the work of professor Robert Schneider, lead author on the study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. He and his colleagues followed 201 African American men and women with coronary heart disease.
The participants were randomly assigned to participate in either a health education class about heart-friendly diet and exercise, or to attend a transcendental meditation program. All of the participants continued to receive their normal medical care as well, including appropriate medication.
After roughly five years of follow-up, the researchers found a 48% reduction in the overall risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from any cause among members of the meditation group compared to those from the health education group. The meditating group also enjoyed a more pronounced drop in systolic blood pressure compared to the control group, and even reported less stress and anger. The power of meditation was like a new class of medication for these people.
3. Your gut
In the newest study of the bunch, published on April 30th, 2015 in PLOS One Journal, researchers enrolled 19 patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and 29 patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
Lead researcher Dr. Braden Kuo, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, used a mind-body technique called Relaxation Response, which a Harvard University doctor developed in the 1970s to find the relationship between stress and digestive issues.
The study participants each underwent a nine-week program that included breathing exercises, meditation and yoga. The patients met for a 1.5-hour group session every week, and practiced the activities at home for 15 to 20 minutes every day. At the end of the study, the patients reported a reduction in their symptoms compared with what they experienced at the study’s start. A genetic analysis of their blood provided evidence of changes in genetic pathways related to the two disorders. These genetic changes are a huge finding!
4. Bloodflow to your toes
Meditation allows you to alter the physiological functions of your body by targeting the specific parts of the brain that allow you to achieve a state of deep relaxation and calmness. For instance, it can make your heart pump more slowly and steadily, also noted in the heart study by Dr. Schneider.
Imagine yourself after a long run. You feel your heart pumping more blood because your brain and body need more oxygen as you huff and puff. This similar effect happens when you are anxious, stressed, or scared, as your heart pumps even faster, trying to deliver oxygen to the bodily organs.
Meditation reduces your heart rate while dramatically improving circulation efficiency to far areas such as your toes, and all over your body.
But before you enjoy all these benefits, there is one thing you must do…
And that’s getting meditation right first!
You see, meditation is a simple practice that takes only a few minutes a day. Yet so many people get tripped up by obstacles like mind chatter, lack of focus, improper technique and distracting itches and twitches.
NOTE FROM LARRY AND OKSANA
Our dear friends, Amish and Dr. Puja Shah, founders of Project:Yourself, a global online movement for elevating human consciousness – have created a free 9-day ‘Inner Riches’ meditation experience to help anyone finally achieve deep meditation and reap its rewards.
This is how it works
Every day for 9 days, Amish and Puja will email you one guided meditation audio that carries you into a deeper state of mind – even if you’ve never successfully meditated in your life.
I highly recommend giving this experience a try, because:
1) It’s easy, fun, and it only takes a few minutes a day – you can do these sessions in the morning, in the evening, even on your lunch break.
2) I’ve never seen anything quite like Amish & Puja’s approach to meditation – they combine a scientific approach with authentic ancient wisdom in an extremely effective way.
3) And it’s 100% free.
The Inner Riches meditation experience began on Friday, May 22nd, and is open to everyone in the Be Well Buzz community. Just use the link below to claim your free spot while it’s still available: