While meditation and mindfulness have been making headlines lately, both have been practiced for thousands of years all over the world. It may be as simple as breathing in deeply, and setting your focus to the present moment, to more disciplined practices, such as transcendental meditation (TM), which was popularized in the 60’s.
The problem with meditation is it’s often easier said than done, especially in today’s high-tech, working-every-minute environment. But, taking the time to meditate is equally as important to your health as exercise. And today, with painkiller addiction rates spiraling out of control, a safe, natural solution to stress-related ailments is essential to our nation’s health.
Meditation, when done properly, triggers the body’s natural relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Slower meditative brain signals tell your muscles to relax and your organs to slow down. It sets the stage for your body to detoxify itself, including eliminating excess adrenaline, which can otherwise contribute to its toxic burden. Meditation also naturally increases blood flow to the brain.
Meditation, or mind calming exercises like mindfulness that focus on breathing and awareness of the present moment, have proven to help improve health and quality of life by improving sleep, memory, and relieving stress and anxiety, just to name a few.
Sustained meditation leads to something called neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change, physically and functionally, based on environmental input. Before now, scientists thought the brain essentially finished changing and growing after adulthood. Research from the University of Wisconsin has indicated that experienced meditators show high levels of gamma wave activity. Gamma waves are associated with increased mental activity/cognitive enhancement, freedom from distractibility, high levels of info-processing, learning and focus, high short-term memory ability, and migraine prevention. The research also proved the same people displayed the ability to control their reactiveness to a given stimulus, after a meditation session. (1)
Meditation Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease
A large research study was published in 2012, indicating meditation can reduce your chance of heart disease by almost 50%. A group of 201 people were split into two groups. They were asked to choose between taking a class on TM and a class promoting an improved diet and exercise. The results were astonishing. The students who meditated reduced their chance of heart disease by 48%. (2)
A study done by the University of California, showed that long term meditators have higher Telomerase activity compared to those who do not meditate. Telomerase is the enzyme that helps build Telomeres, the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes. Longer telomeres mean that you’re likely to live longer. Thus, more telomerase activity can conceivably translate into stronger and longer telomeres. (3)
Improved Memory and Learning
A recent study from Harvard showed measurable positive changes to the brain in just 8 weeks. For just 27 minutes a day, the participants meditated and the results were astonishing. There was increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. (4)
According to the Journal of Neuroscience, meditation produces pain relieving effects that were more effective than morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25%. Their research showed a 40% reduction in pain intensity and a 57% reduction in pain unpleasantness. (5)
1 in 6 people have insomnia today. According to Harvard’s Health Blog, meditation improves sleep. If you find yourself getting poor sleep, resulting in daytime sleepiness, meditation could be your answer. Researchers recommend meditation for 20 minutes a day to positively affect your sleep and energy throughout the day. (6)
Meditation is proving to be a tonic for your body and your consciousness, and with no negative side-effects, it certainly makes sense to try it out before turning to dangerous pharmaceuticals. Can meditation be addictive? Well, some of us at BrainTap have been meditating for 30+ years, and we think it’s the best addiction going!
With the evolution of modern technology like the BrainTap App and the BrainTap headset, you can now reach deep meditative states using light and sound frequencies to guide your brainwaves. This is a plus for those who have trouble meditating because the frequencies gently guide you, along with relaxing music and often guided visualization. The BrainTap App makes being mindful easier now more than ever. There’s over 700 guided meditations for your listening pleasure. Just download the app, choose a session, and push play! For a FREE Trial on the BrainTap App (Click Here)