Wednesday, August 19, 2015

5 Ways Meditation Helps Improve Health

Man practicing meditation
Practice meditation wherever you feel comfortable

With healthcare remaining a hot button issue, little attention is given to practices like meditation which could reduce the amount of money spent on treatment by both consumers and the government.

Republican presidential candidates are now offering their own convoluted versions of healthcare reform to replace Obamacare. At the same time, Obamacare has led to a significant drop in rate of uninsured Americans. While it’s making progress, practices such as meditation combined with diet and traditional treatment, now more readily available, can help address many conditions.

While it started as a religious practice, meditation has grown in popularity in recent years as it’s been embraced by people from all walks of life. While meditation may open your mind up to spiritual thoughts, its proven medical benefits can help those not spiritually inclined in the following ways:

1. Mediation helps deal with stress.

The biggest benefits of meditation is that it lowers your stress level and helps you relax. Stress aggravates many auto-immune and heart-related conditions.

You’re not going to find a solution to a problem if you over-analyze it while performing mundane tasks. In the same way you can get a good idea while falling asleep, meditation can initiate a brainstorm, though that isn’t the intended purpose.

Similar to a nap, it leaves you feeling refreshed. It’s more effective than just “zoning out” watching TV. And it’s healthier than a hard drink.

When you start off meditating, trying doing it for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Try finding a space where you won’t be distracted.

If you shut your eyes, inhale through your nose, hold it, and exhale through your mouth, you’ll become progressively more relaxed. As you take deep breaths, your breath will become smoother over time if you’re on edge.

2. Meditation helps with focus and ADD

There are different meditation techniques and one called mindfulness meditation has been proven to help increase concentration.

In this practice, focus your attention on your breathing. You don’t have to keep taking deep breaths to do it. If distracted, return your attention to the breath without berating yourself.

The goal is to turn off your internal monologue and simply relax.

It can be difficult to concentrate on your breathing alone without having the mind constantly wandering off. It’s easier to focus on soothing music. The goal is to concentrate on positive thoughts for as long as possible.

3. Meditation helps with depression.

If you’ve had a rough day filled with petty problems, meditation can help you forget them. Issues you’re struggling with that seem big and insurmountable will become smaller and easier to deal with.

Even if you’re coping with long-term issues, meditation will help you keep going.

The goal is not dwell on the existing issues, but rather to focus your attention elsewhere.

4. Meditation helps with stomach issues.

According to a Harvard study, meditation has been proven an effective technique to address different stomach or gastroenterological problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Participants meditated once a day for nine weeks and found their symptoms had improved afterward.

5. Meditates helps cope with pain.

By not focusing on pain, you’ll feel better over time. Zen meditation specifically is helpful in this regard. In a study, those who practiced Zen mediation didn’t feel pain as strongly as those who didn’t. By not dwelling on the pain or its negative connotations, they were able to dull the sensation.

Practitioners say you should sit cross-legged on the floor with palms facing upward. This might be uncomfortable. Find a position that is comfortable for you, including lying down as long as you don’t fall asleep.

While schools of thought differ on how often you should meditate, to do it at least once a week. Initially it’s going to be difficult, but the more you meditate, the easier it becomes, and the better you’ll feel.