Need a trick to help tame a busy life? Mindfulness meditation is much like a valuable superpower you can grow over time … curious? Read on!
During my college years, I stumbled across a weekly mindfulness meditation meeting near my apartment—I decided to drop by a session and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my college career.
I’d always associated meditation with religious practice, but I learned that absolutely anyone can take part and experience a myriad of benefits to their mental and physical health.
These are a few of the many ways mindfulness meditation can enhance your life—keep in mind that there are many styles of meditation practiced around the world with their own unique benefits.
Mindfulness meditation is the common form used for health purposes in the U.S. and the benefits listed here specifically apply to this style.
Improve Your Concentration
A University of Washington study divided participants into three groups. One received an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation, another received some training later and the third received only body relaxation training.
Only the individuals who received the meditation training showed cognitive improvements on the test and those participants’ concentration abilities “improved significantly.”
This change is thought to be due to the way meditation improves neural communication, including among attentional networks and between those areas and the frontal region.
Reduce Your Anxiety
According to PsychCentral, the positive impact on anxiety levels accomplished through meditation is a great side effect.
Meditation helps settle “overactive” thoughts and brings the focus onto the present, rather than concerns about the past or future.
Meditation helps practitioners come to a place of “nonjudgmental acceptance,” which allows for the existence of problems without them occupying an unhealthy level of importance in our lives.
Manage Your Chronic Pain
Studies have repeatedly shown the efficacy of meditation as a method of managing chronic pain. Research shows that the benefit is achieved through reducing pain intensity by activating specific areas of the brain related to “pain processing.”
According to The Atlantic, the results showed a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity during meditation as compared to those who were not meditating.
There’s also a mistaken understanding that meditation is a difficult skill requiring years of practice to be effective—it isn’t true. Even beginners see benefits from meditation, although skill level improves over time.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Study findings published in Perspectives on Psychological Science suggested that mindfulness meditation has a positive effect on immune function.
An entry in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal came to a similar conclusion, saying that the demonstrable impact on immune function were strong enough to “underscore the need for additional research.”
Reduces Loneliness, Inflammation in Your Senior Relatives
In 2012, a small study was launched to see the effects of meditation on a group of seniors versus a control group who did not meditate.
The results were clear: meditating seniors were less lonely and physically healthier. The physical benefits were linked to “a significant drop in the expression of inflammation-related genes.”
Senior study author Steve Cole highlighted the fact that this research provided encouraging evidence that “psychological intervention” could play an important role in reducing the risk for inflammation-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer.
Written by Chris Sosa
The article was originally published with Care2; republished with the kindest permission.
[image: via shutterstock]