By Brian Rose
Meditation is a method of concentrating on sound, image, vision, motion, expression, or concentration itself to improve the perception of the present moment, alleviate discomfort, facilitate relaxation, and stimulate personal and spiritual development.
Besides mindfulness and having a crucial role in thinking positively, meditation is known to have wonderful effects on physical health too. The origin of meditation has been in Asia, however, right now it is practiced worldwide, and increasing research on the topic has revealed unmatched benefits for improving overall health as well as preventing and alleviating many diseases known to man.
Moreover, there are several techniques and types of meditation prevalent today that seemingly have an adequate effect on reducing hypertension, blood sugar levels and helping in the management as well as prevention of ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, acute respiratory infection, hypertension, and pain.
Let’s review some of the medically proven benefits of mindfulness in the realm of commonly encountered illnesses.
1. Blood Sugar Lowering:
Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder that affects several people worldwide. One of the leading causes of diabetes is proven to be stress. Therefore, to prevent and manage diabetes, it is essential to use stress management techniques (1). Regular meditation for ninety days was proven to subside all the symptoms of diabetes in an experimental group(2). For people who are at risk of getting diabetes due to social and physical factors, regular meditation practice can reduce the symptoms as well as the risk for type two diabetes(3). According to other research, people with diabetes showed significant improvement after six months of meditation. Their blood glucose levels returned to normal, as evidenced by a significant decrease in glucose carrying hemoglobin (Glycosylated Hemoglobin), and substantial improvement in insulin levels (4). Diabetes self-care and mindfulness activities require patience and dedication. Yet the incentives are perfect for doing them together. As you practice mindful activities in routine, you will begin to notice that even the smallest decisions that you take make more sense in your life. For instance, the odds of ordering food while watching Netflix and making late-night trips to the refrigerator become lower, and the possibility of going for a walk increases. In other words, your ability to handle stress will be strengthened by good decisions, and you will not resort to unhealthy eating habits to deal with stress. Reduced stress, improved management of diabetics, lower blood glucose rate, strengthened concentration on the specific aspects of life, and less depression and anxiety are the possible advantages of including meditation in your life.
2. Blood Pressure Lowering:
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the global diseases that are affecting various people throughout the world. While it might not seem a big issue on its own, but it brings several health complications with it. These complications can further lead to heart and vascular disorder, causing heart attacks, heart failure as well as can be a cause for stroke, kidney disease, and sexual dysfunction(5).
As we all know, hypertension is more prevalent in people with stress, hence keeping nerves under control is one big step in keeping blood pressure in check. Meditating and setting your body in a relaxing position will reduce anxiety and help you feel more comfortable and ready to deal with the difficulty of the day. Therefore, to lower blood pressure, it is inevitable to engage in healthy activities, and meditation is one of them. Research has proven that the constant practice of mindfulness can bring blood pressure to a normal value(6).
To reduce blood pressure, a person should sit quietly and shut the eyes for 20 minutes, twice a day, to obtain a level of relaxation of mind and body.
Recent research indicates that the procedure activates genes that generate telomerase, an enzyme correlated with decreased blood pressure and mortality. Telomeres are short lengths of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that protect our genome. The shortening of the DNA has been linked with cancer, aging, and a higher risk of death. Chronic stress leads to a reduction in telomerase activity and subsequent acceleration in telomere shortening and premature aging. Telomerase is an enzyme made of protein and RNA units and is responsible for adding DNA to the ends of chromosomes. Therefore, the upregulation of telomerase has been linked to reduced blood pressure and reduced cardiovascular morbidity (12).
Meditation can be successful in regulating blood pressure, according to a clinical research study. Researchers found that performing meditation could have the ability to decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure by about 4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, overall.
Before you start any kind of meditation, having faith that it will heal you is very important. You cannot focus unless you believe in whatever you do. However, if your blood pressure remains too high or you have multiple risk factors, discuss with your physician if you may need medication and keep him informed of your daily contemplation activities as well as your daily blood pressure chart.
3. Weight Loss
Living in the twenty-twenty while we embrace people of all sizes with love and eye them as beautiful, it is an alarming issue of how sedentary lifestyles are increasing worldwide obesity. The disturbing situation is due to the health complications obesity brings with it. It causes heart attack, hypertension, and atherosclerosis, and can also be an indirect cause of cancer as well as respiratory and bone issues. While it is essential to exercise and monitor your diet to watch out for increasing weight, meditation can be your savior too. Our bodies look like how our inner self is. While practicing meditation, the meditator thinks about the reasons for losing weight. For instance, many people are stress eaters; when stressed, they intake large meals of high caloric values. Therefore, when an overweight person practices meditation, he gets time away from his day-to-day activities to think about what are the unhealthy habits that are causing the weight gain. Likewise, while meditating, they get full-fledged control over their brain, and as a result, while controlling their stress, they have a higher chance to engage their mind and body in healthy activities(7). Moreover, it will help create positive improvements in dietary behaviors, thought processes, and also how one feels about one weight. It helps you to pardon yourself for committing mistakes, like consuming a bag of crisps.
Meditation decreases the rates of cortisol and C-reactive protein, which is helpful to the physical wellbeing and will help everyone promote weight reduction and sustain a healthier weight. Cortisol correlated with retaining fat from the abdomen and increased C-reactive protein rates may be a symptom of inflammation that is at the heart of several illnesses, including overweight.
4. Immune System
Immune health is an imperative of overall health as it maintains the line of defense for the body against invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Therefore, emphasis on how crucial it is to maintain immune health is essential. Immunity is highly associated with one’s mental health. It has been proven to have a healthy immune system. It is necessary to have a healthy mind as all our thoughts and moods are transmitted to the immune system as well (8). Therefore, meditation can help in a substantial increase of helper T-cells that are crucial to an immune response of the body against pathogens. Thus, a positive mind due to meditation can boost the immunity of an individual. Meditation will change our body’s immune system through amounts of antibodies to combat viruses, bacteria, and other toxic substances. Meditation can improve the role of our immune system; If anyone is anxious or caught in depressive thinking and emotions, this places their body in a defensive state and adversely impacts our immune system, rendering them more vulnerable to sickness and disease. Medication can improve the abilities to relieve tension and control feelings—an individual encouraging its body to channel its resources into the immune system to strengthen its defenses. It stimulates the activity of all areas of the brain that function as the nerve core of the immune system. Through meditation, it completed the bond among the brain as well as the immune system, rendering it much more effective.
5. Cognitive Brain Enhancement
Mindfulness is all about having control over one’s thoughts. Therefore, a person who meditates regularly shows signs of improved mental health, which in return enhances the cognitive powers of the brain. While meditating, blood flow to the cerebral region of the brain increases, which decreases stress levels in an individual and hence brings about healthy life changes that automatically increase the quality of their life(9). Therefore, while the cognitive powers grow substantially the meditation alters the mental activities related to cognitive power(10). People who engage with mindfulness meditation have to increase cognition, which reflects in day-to-day activities, including their jobs. Meditation has beneficial effects on the hippocampus, a portion of the mind that has a significant role in memory formation and learning. The study showed that doing mindfulness meditation a day will improve brain executive skills, cognitive abilities correlated with goal-oriented behavior, and capacity to regulate knee-jerk strong emotional reactions, repetitive thought habits, and acts.
Cancer is one of the many lethal diseases with decreased life expectancies, and lethargy, leading to hopelessness and uninvited depression. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be painful treatments for many, and as a result, cancer patients go through undue mental suffering as well. Hence, to ease this, meditation has shown proven benefits(11). Cancer’s existence could be traumatic. Long-term anxiety and stress may intensify the symptoms of cancer and therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. Mind-body meditation tends to calm and lessen any of its impacts. It will help you to control your illness. Meditation can provide numerous advantages for individuals dealing with cancer, and many cancer clinics are already providing this care. Possible effects involve a decline in high levels of anxiety, decreased fatigue, improved vitality, and a decrease in chronic pain as well as other signs. Many medical researchers claim that almost everyone can benefit from meditation, and this is true for most cancer patients. Meditation is an easy activity anyone can do on its own, and it does not take a long time. Maybe coping with cancer would offer more people the opportunity to pursue this form of mitigating stress that might help people in aspects of life that are well beyond cancer.
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