5 reasons to hop on the meditation bandwagon

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The evidence is mounting for a practice that is thousands of years old: meditation. It is good for your physical, mental and emotional health.

Meditation or allowing yourself to sit and simply ‘be’ with your breath, your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations benefit our brains, bodies, minds and well-being. Yes, there is research backing the benefits, but there is nothing like experiencing those benefits directly. The proof is in the practice. As you explore this new healthy habit, take notice of how it is affecting you in your daily life.

Perhaps you’re sleeping better, perhaps you’re noticing less impulsiveness in eating or shopping, and perhaps your partner is noticing a change in you. We exercise and nourish our bodies each day. So imagine giving this same loving attention to our minds.

If you already meditate, I’m sure you would agree. If you’ve been curious but possibly unsure of where to start or are intimidated by the thought of sitting with yourself in silence, read on for five reasons that will motivate you to meditate today.

1. Meditation lowers stress levels.

The World Health Organization has called stress ‘the epidemic of the 21st century’, with up to 90% of doctor’s office visits related to stress. The simple act of breathing mindfully, taking a deep breath is enough to activate the parasympathetic nervous system; the part of the nervous system responsible for healing, relaxation, and digestion. Also the exact opposite to the ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response that most of us are in chronically. Studies show a significant reduction in the stress hormone cortisol in meditators.

2. Meditation improves focus and attention.

We are in a multi-tasking culture. We even brag at our ability to do so despite the fact that multitasking is a myth. What is actually happening is that your brain is rapidly jumping form task to task and you sacrifice the quality of your attention. Think of the last time you tried to chat on your cell phone while watching TV. When we practice focusing on the present as in mindfulness meditation, we improve concentration and increase efficiency of whatever task is at hand.

3. Meditation improves self-regulation.

Studies using neuroimaging techniques have shown that meditation improves activation and connectivity in brain areas related to self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s impulses, which influence cognitive, social, and emotional behaviours such as memory, paying attention, being able to pause and think about potential consequences before making a decision or acting. Mindless or emotional eating is a common example of where meditation can be extremely useful.

4. Meditation is anti-inflammatory.

Recent studies show that meditation boosts disease-fighting and anti-inflammatory genes. Stress leads to inflammation, a state linked to everything from heart disease, to cancer, arthritis, skin conditions like eczema, to irritable bowel syndrome. If you turn off the stress response (with meditation), you turn down the inflammation.

5. Meditation can decrease anxiety and promote calmness.

We could all use a daily dose of that! Meditation helps to cultivate the ability to witness a thought without attaching any meaning to it. For many of us, attachment to thoughts and unconscious thoughts are a main source of stress. Meditation is a way to practice simply noticing what comes up, without judgment.

Ready to try yet?

Wishing you Harmonious Health,
Jennifer

Featured image taken from UCSB Alcohol and Drug Program.

jenniferabolus@gmail.com'

Jennifer Bolus is an Integrative Registered Dietitian, Mind-Body health coach, energy healing practitioner, certified yoga teacher and wellness expert with a passion for mind-body medicine.