7 Reasons You Should Meditate
Humans have been meditating for thousands of years. For good reason too. It’s easy, free to do, and highly beneficial. You don’t need to be a guru, or some sort of psychic warrior to start. All you have to do is find a peaceful place, sit down, and breathe. Try not to think of anything for ten whole minutes, and when the ten minutes is up, open your eyes and continue doing whatever it is you do. I guarantee you’ll feel better than you did before you started. Don’t believe me? Read these seven reasons and maybe you’ll change your mind.
It Literally Lowers Stress
Research shows that practicing some form of meditation is linked to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Just to avoid confusion, cortisol in and of itself isn’t necessarily a “bad” hormone. It’s that just our day to day lives encourage us to produce unhealthy amounts of it and at the wrong time of day. Excess cortisol can lead to anxiety, depression, and weight gain among other things.
Mediation allows us to disconnect our brains from the outside world. This detached vantage can be one of the best ways to take a clear “inventory” of yourself and where your life is going. A great deal of people who meditate report having “break through” moments or even coming up with solutions to problems they’ve been wrestling around with at work and in the home. Many of us apply our gung-ho-git-r-done-jackhammer mentalities to cognitive problem solving when in reality it could be doing us more harm than good in terms of achieving a viable solution. The reason for this is pretty simple. When you are stressed you’re preparing your body for taking action. When this happens blood is distributed to the muscles not the brain.
Get Better Grades
Researchers from George Mason University found that mediation could actually help students get better grades. A random selection of students were given basic meditation instructions before a lecture. The students who meditated before the lecture did better on their quiz that followed the lecture than students who did not meditate.
A University of Utah study found that meditation can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress,” study researcher Holly Rau. Most of our troubled sleepless nights come from our emotional response to stress. Mediation helps us “file-away” the seemingly endless stream of mental exclamation points running through our minds. Meditation has also been found to decrease our need for sleep.
Protects The Brain
Magnetic resonance imaging showed that regular practice of meditation is associated with increased thickness in a subset of cortical regions related to sensory, auditory, visual and internal perception, such as heart rate or breathing. The researchers also found that regular meditation practice may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex. It changes the brain in a protective way. University of Oregon researchers also found that meditation techniques can actually protect the brain against mental illness. They discovered meditation was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin sheath) around the axons.
Or as scientists say achieving “flow-state”. This can be enjoyed by virtually anyone from rappers, to athletes, sales people, and even stockroom employees. Flow happens “when psychic energy, or attention, is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunity for action. Flow provides a sense of discovery, a creative feeling of transporting a person into a new reality. It pushes a person to higher levels of performance, and leads to previously undreamed of states of consciousness. In this growth of self lies the key flow activities.” By meditating you are becoming familiar with and facilitating these “wider” states of consciousness.
Increases Immune Function
A University of Wisconsin study showed that mediation can reduce the duration or severity of a cold by up to 50 percent.
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