11 Research-Backed Reasons to Try This “Far-Eastern Fix”
In my career as a medical professional I’ve found a few things to be true above all else.
For instance, I’m a firm believer that food is medicine. That is what you eat can positively or negatively influence your health and if you have certain medical issues the first thing you should do isn’t “take a pill.” You should work on fixing your diet instead.
Another thing I believe is the health of our minds is vitally important to total health.
Sadly, mental health is often neglected by most.
Even when people are aware they should try and protect their brains they don’t really know how.
So today I’m going to talk about a “far-eastern fix” that’ll help protect and restore your brain while also leading to total health improvements.
Meditation is one of the most underutilized health habits in the Western world, and I think that’s a huge mistake.
Let me show you why meditation is so useful and then I’ll give you some practical tips on how you can use it to heal yourself starting today.
Meditation: It’s Not Dangerous and It’s Proven to Work
So the first thing I want to clear up is meditation isn’t dangerous.
And I don’t mean dangerous in the physical sense, but in the religious sense.
As a Christian I know plenty of other Christians respond negatively to the idea of meditating because traditional meditation is steeped in far-eastern theologies.
That’s why I called it the “Far-Eastern Fix”.
While there are plenty of people who employ meditation in a religious sense (even Christians can do this as the Bible calls believers to meditate on the Word of God), you can meditate in a completely “secular way.”
In its most basic form meditation the simple practice of combining deep breathing with stillness and the practice of presence.
Here’s how Wikipedia defines meditation:
“Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions and within them.”
So when I speak of mediation I’m referring to this kind of meditative state.
Because meditation is an ancient practice and is reputed to offer “transcendence and healing” it’s been the subject of many studies.
And those studies support the claim that meditation can help alter a person from the inside out, the same way food can.
I’m going to cover a few of these proven benefits and then offer you some ways to begin meditating yourself.
11 Research-Backed Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Health
1 - Helps to relieve stress:
Stress is essential for growth and for life. And yet, too much of it is debilitating and can cause hundreds of health problems.
Having a way to deal with stress is beneficial for total health and one of the best therapeutic uses of meditation is for stress relief.
Two significant studies indicated meditation helps drop stress levels.
In a meta-analysis of studies on 3,500 adults researchers concluded with certainty that meditation is helpful for stress reduction.
And as Healthline observed, two other studies supported that meta-analysis.
“In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress (2).
Another study in nearly 1,300 adults demonstrated that meditation may decrease stress. Notably, this effect was strongest in individuals with the highest levels of stress.”
Mediation is believed to help control the release of cortisol and help balance production so it isn’t pegged “in the red” where inflammatory cytokines which cortisol produces become a problem.
Essentially meditation helps balance hormone production and controls inflammation.
2- Helps with age-related memory loss:
A well-documented effect of aging is memory loss.
It’s a scary thought, realizing the older you get the less you remember.
The good news here is meditation is shown to help improve mental function and can protect memory, which could help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
In a combination review of 12 studies on older volunteers, researchers concluded meditation for memory improvement was quite possible.
Meditation was shown to be effective not just for memory improvement among the general population, but even among people who have already been subjected to serious memory-loss when affected by dementia.
Using a style of meditation called Kirtan Kriya, (where people do a chant and touch their fingers rhythmically) people with dementia were observed to have improvements in memory.
The mechanisms behind meditation and memory enhancement isn’t well understood but researchers believe their neuro-protective and neuro-restorative activity might help rewire the brain and induce healing to make the brain function better.
3 - May prevent heart disease:
The health of your heart depends on the health of your mind (as your mind is the organ sending signals to your heart to make sure it beats on time).
So if you can protect the health of your brain, it could likely lead to heart health improvements and even prevent disease.
In 2009 the American Journal of Hypertension published a study on people who practiced transcendental meditation and looked at risk factors for heart disease among that group from beginning to end.
They observed that blood pressure among study participants improved over the course of 90 days and their risk for hypertension also went down. The researchers concluded these biological changes were the result of how meditation helped the participants experience less stress and also increased their ability to cope with “the pressures of life”.
Another study from 2007 demonstrated meditation: “can be effective in improving the quality of life and functional capacity of adults with chronic heart failure, including by improving their physical capabilities and by decreasing their risk for future hospitalizations.”
But That’s Not All Meditation Does (Plus, How to Start)
In addition to those 3 benefits meditation has also been shown to help improve the following:
- Improves symptoms related to anxiety
- May boost attention span
- Helps with addiction
- Makes people more kind
- Generates better sleep patterns
- Enhances pain management without the use of drugs
- Boosts feelings of well being
- Makes one feel closer to God
And so much more.
Best of all, meditation doesn’t cost a dime (although you can buy apps to help guide you) and you can meditate anywhere provided you have 10-15 minutes of spare time.
If using meditation to boost health sounds promising let me help you get started.
Here’s what you need.
- A chair with a straight back (or somewhere to sit where your back is positioned nice and straight).
- A quiet place.
- A commitment to practice this daily (this is important so you can learn how to meditate and experience the benefits.
With that, your goal is to breathe in deeply, focus on your breath and how your body feels and then detach from your mind.
Your goal is to not let your mind wander and take captive random thoughts and silence them.
So that’s the simple approach.
I know that’s not very comprehensive, but my goal here isn’t to teach you how to meditate. I only want you to know meditation is scientifically proven to improve your health and show you how simple it is to begin.
Here are a few recommendations for beginning meditation:
Find some apps:
There are dozens of apps online that can help you meditate. Some are free, some are paid, but all will give you a framework to operate in.
Figure out what kind of meditation you want to do:
If you’re a Christian, do some research on Chrisitian meditation, or speak to other Christians who meditate and see what they do.
If you want a completely non religious experience, look into “breathing techniques” which helps you meditate without any extraneous aspects.
Give yourself grace:
Meditation might be simple, and it actually is easy, but starting off may prove frustrating. So give yourself grace when starting so you can keep getting better at it.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is meditation is a great practice to improve health.
I believe if everyone meditated we’d all be healthier.
Start today and tell me what happens to your life by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.