Do you feel stressed? Are you getting worn down by the daily grind? For most of us, our bodies think that we're running away from a tiger all day long. The constant challenges and pressures we face in the day-to-day can really do a number on our health.
But in as little as 10 minutes, a daily meditation practice can counteract that stress and bring you many powerful benefits. This is one of the tools that I prescribe to many of my patients. It's incredibly effective, and it's free.
Meditation helps alleviate:
Meditation is a wonderful way to reduce stress. Not only does the practice of meditating gives you some much-needed “down time" to rest physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it also directly impacts your entire nervous system by reducing your body's production of stress-related chemicals such as cortisol. Meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves, which increase the relaxation response.
There is a significant body of research work demonstrating that meditation can reduce chronic pain. In a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, patients suffering from backache, chronic migraine and tension headaches were able to decrease their pain medication and some patients were even able stop their pain medication with a consistent meditation practice.
A 2009 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that meditation decreased anxiety and increased hope in its participants. A separate study showed that cancer patients who practiced meditation for as little as seven weeks were significantly less depressed and anxious than their counterparts who did not meditate.
4. Cardiovascular disease
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed patients with coronary heart disease who instituted a meditation practice for 16 weeks. Patients' blood pressure and heart rate variability improved compared to a control group. In another study, researchers studying the effect of meditation on atherosclerosis reported that those who had practiced meditation for six to nine months had an 11% decrease in the risk of heart attack and up to a 15% decrease in the risk of stroke.
A study at the University of Minnesota showed patients with primary chronic insomnia who followed a three-month meditation program at home significantly improved their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So what are you waiting for? Start your day with a 10-minute meditation practice, or schedule it into your day. It's powerful, effective and free!