What can meditation and mindfulness do for you? What is all the fuss about?
Living our best life requires an investment in our health. It requires a lifelong commitment to practices that keep the mind and body nourished and restored for the increasing demands of this world. The World Health Organization predicts that depression is to become the second leading cause of global disease by 2020.
Meditation practices were once shrouded in a mystical cloak of spirituality but these days, mindfulness is very deserving of its newfound fame and is proving to be a pathway to greater happiness and well-being.
The mind is a very powerful tool. Practicing meditation reduces stress levels and alleviates anxiety. If we can reduce stress, many health benefits follow. Our mind constantly grasps towards stress-inducing thoughts, emotional upsets and is never satisfied. The essence of meditation is singular – to cultivate mindful awareness. It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator – but it is also true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
New research also shows that meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
Here are just a few of the benefits
• Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation calms the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
• Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
• Lower cholesterol levels
• More efficient oxygen use by the body
• Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
• Restful sleep
Being mindful isn't something that is learned overnight. It takes a lot of practice, as well as a lot of patience.