The benefits of meditation are vast. Psychological and physical benefits are widely reported and are also the main reasons why most people decide to get involved in meditating. In our Interesting Facts section we have laid out popular benefits experienced by regular practitioners. Meditation is healthy, safe and affordable. To get started your only outlay may be for a meditation mat and that isn't even really necessary.
Meditation has been around for over 5000 years, and was originally the spiritual component of yoga. Over time it became fostered by non-yogi's, intuitively sensing and connecting the practice with greater peace of mind. Today, millions of people who regularly meditate admit to reduced stress and anxiety and increased energy. There is a science behind all of this, so lets now take a look at the science bit.
Studies into meditation have increased sharply over the past 50 years. In that time tangible evidence for meditation benefits have been found. Research into Transcendental Meditation (mantra repetition) alone has seen over 500 individual studies. Some are more remarkable than others. One of these, published in the Japan Journal of Public Health, reported that through Transcendental Meditation industrial workers sleep improved and those that smoked drastically cut down or quit altogether. Another study carried out at MERU Research Institute based in Buckinghamshire, England, found that the length of time spent practicing Transcendental Meditation correlated with younger biological and younger functional age.
The focus with Mindfulness Meditation is on our breath to emphasize our awareness of the present moment. It is another technique that is widely studied. After an 8 week study of Mindfulness Meditation on participants and its effects, a report published in 2003 in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine concluded: "A short program in mindfulness meditation produces demonstrable effects on brain and immune function.” Sounds impressive, but a more committed response to the benefits of meditation comes from Taiwan. The journal Chang Gung Medicine reported in 2002 that "training in MM (Mindfulness Meditation) may be a medically superior and cost effective alternative to pain medication for the control of headaches with no underlying organic causes in highly motivated patients."
Stress Reduction and Meditation
Research elsewhere has focused on the causes of positive physical change and effects on the body during meditation. Research carried out at the Maharishi School of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, found that meditation has a tremendous impact on stress reduction. For the research, a group of volunteers that meditated regularly for four months were examined throughout. They concluded that each had significantly reduced levels of stress hormone cortisol. This means that each were more able to adapt to stress in their lives regardless of what their circumstances were.
As any good psychiatrist will tell you, balanced cortisol levels are essential for good mental and emotional health. We need a certain amount of cortisol as low levels are dangerous to body and mind. Too little cortisol is the identifiable trait of Addison's Disease. John F. Kennedy had this condition although he vehemently denied this while in office. However during his presidency he regulated his own imbalance with hydrocortisone, a synthetic cortisol. The opposite condition is Cushings Syndrome. Symptoms include hypertension, red face with puffy cheeks, fat build up around the collar bones and muscle weakness. However we don't need to have Cushings Syndrome to be at risk from extra cortisol. Teenagers can develop acne, and in some cases stop growing prematurely. Among the older generation excess cortisol damages bone tissue and may lead to fractures related to osteoporosis in the over 60's. So its fairly evident that if we can do something to regulate cortisol, especially in such a natural way, we owe it to ourselves to try.
After practicing meditation a few times you should begin to experience an ability to focus and concentrate with much more ease. It is a key component of the law of attraction. During meditation you will be able to focus clearly on your wants and needs. In your mind you can create a kind of "video" of how you would like things to be. Here you can experience your desire as it would be for real. Feel the emotions, the happiness of achieving your goal. These feelings are emitted with your frequencies to the ether. Do this enough and the unbalance in the real world will be addressed. Please keep in mind the physical possibility of attaining your goals. For example if you are say, 50 and male and have a dream of being the starting midfielder for the Boston Red Sox, its not going to happen. If it is within the realms of possibility then go for it! Your only real limitations lie in your imagination.
So all you have to do now is take action! The benefits of meditation are waiting on you.