Meditation has many health benefits and is a highly effective way to reduce stress. Prolonged stress leads to the risk of developing greater life problems, increased inflammation, chances of developing PTSD, and alterations in regular life habits.
There are various ways to curb this stress and lead a healthier life, but meditation is definitely the best and easiest way to achieve this and it also comes with a lot of added benefits.
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Meditation helps in increasing the effectiveness of your body’s neurotransmitters on well-being
The deep state of meditation helps to trigger the brain to secrete various neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters help to make you calm, more focused and be stress-free. Meditation is the only exercise that blueprints the simultaneous release of all these neurotransmitters, which no single drug can do.
Some of these important neurotransmitters include Dopamine, Serotonin, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), Endorphin. All of these neurotransmitters have essential soothing effects on your body.
Meditation helps to promote restful sleep
Many of you have problems in sleeping, which is known as a state of chronic sleep deprivation. This lack of proper and effective sleep leads to various complications like stress and anxiety, lowering of blood pressure levels, improper digestion of meals, and so on.
Meditation is effective in curing insomnia, and other sleep and rest-related complications. An effective sleep is essential to physical and emotional well-being.
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Meditation makes you more relaxed
While meditating, the brain secretes various brainwaves. These brainwaves include alpha and theta brainwaves. Most of these brainwaves promote relaxation of the body and mind. It also helps in calming down various parts of the brain, which are related to additional stress and anxiety levels.
After meditating you experience a sense of greater calm allowing you to be more focused on what is essential rather than what upsets you.
Meditation helps in improving focus and attention
Quite often it is seen that people tend to multitask. Experts have proved that a conscious brain cannot do many tasks at the same point in time. Meditation is a boon that helps you to focus on a particular task at a given point in time.
A study at the University of Washington showed that a group of human resource managers who meditated regularly were able to focus better on a particular task at a given time.
Meditation helps in overturning the effects of the stress response
While you are meditating you go from a condition of motion or activity to a state of stillness, completely stationary. You silence all the thoughts in your mind, and completely focus on the breath, as you count. Even though you are in a state of complete rest, your mind is awake, and you are fully aware of your surroundings.
In this condition, your body feels a lot of healing effects that are the reverse of the fight-or-flight response.
Meditation can change the brain’s stress patterns
It is a rather powerful device to transform and alter various regions of the brain and also awaken new neural connections. It alters the brain in such a way that it promotes calmness and regulates stress patterns.
Research conducted by Harvard University showed that after 8 weeks of regular meditation, people had increased volumes of the areas of the brain associated with memory, empathy, stress regulation, and self-awareness.
Meditation helps in releasing emotional turbulences
As you practice meditation, you get to develop what is known as “witnessing awareness”. This allows you to observe your feelings, emotions, and stories from a greater distance rather than being pulled completely into them.
With time you will notice that there is more to you than just these, which tend to bring you down. Regular meditation allows you to curb your brain’s thinking patterns which lead to stress without having to run away from your inner feelings.
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Meditation helps in bringing addictions to a halt
Stress leads to addictions, but the reverse is also true. The more you are addicted to something whether it be drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or any other form of addiction, once you are unable to have it, you slowly drown in depression and your stress levels begin to rise.
A study found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation were more likely to give up on smoking after about 17 weeks of meditating than people undergoing conventional treatment.
Meditation leads to volume changes in major areas of your brain
The more stressed out you are, the lesser you will be able to focus on learning or any other important work. Meditation is found to thicken the cortical portion of the hippocampus, which is associated with better learning and memory.
Meditation also shrinks the amygdala in volume, which is the portion of the brain related to stress and anxiety levels. It is also very useful in strengthening the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and self-referential processing. The following image will give you some tips, How you can do meditation at home
Meditation enhances your ability to make rational decisions
The frontal lobe of the brain is covered by the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational decision-making. The better you are while making important decisions, the less stressed out you are going to be.
Scientists have shown that regular meditation increases the grey matter in this region of the prefrontal cortex which means extra brain cells in this region and enhances your ability to make better rational decisions, and be less stressed while making them!
Meditation is beneficial in stress regulation
Researchers hired some adults who were looking for employment and were under considerable stress and pressure. The participants were grouped into two. One group underwent mindfulness meditation whereas, the other group underwent a “fake” meditation practice.
At the end of the program, it was found that the participants who had undergone the real meditation program were much more expressive in the areas of the brain related to the resting state.
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Meditation helps to boost creativity
Mindfulness meditation is seen to boost creativity in regular meditators. It helps to get those stored ideas or even the new ones flowing directly to the neocortex, the part of the brain where all the creativity takes place.
When stressed out you often find yourself lacking ideas and the mind constantly in a conflict with yourself, trying to bring you down. Meditation, as shown by the Harvard University, is very essential in making those creative juices flow.
Meditation is very helpful in strengthening the Pons
Pons is a very important and rather busy part of your brain. The Pons is essential for carrying out various functions like sleep, evaluating sensory inputs, facial expressions, and basic physical functions of the body.
This is the part that deals with the production of various neurotransmitters that initiate brain activities. Regular mindfulness meditation helps in strengthening the Pons, which in turn helps to curb stress levels.
Meditation has a calming effect on the “DMN”
The brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts is known as the Default Mode Network (DMN). It is active when we are still and not thinking about anything.
It is during this time that the mind wanders from one thought to the other, which are less happy thoughts related to stress, anxiety, and so on. It is the goal for many people to dial these down. Meditation does just this. It quietens the DMN.
Meditation reduces social anxiety/stress
A sub-genre of meditation known as MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction), developed at the University of Massachusetts, claims to reduce a person’s stress level both mentally and physically.
Mindfulness meditation is a boon when it comes to curing anxiety. A Stanford University team observed that MBSR had quite an impact on the brain, wherein it altered various regions of the brain, involved in attention along with relief from forms of social anxiety/stress.
Meditation protects the “aging” brain
Preliminary research suggests that meditation proves beneficial in preventing the brain from aging. An aging brain means increased levels of stress and anxiety. The brain stops functioning at its natural pace and leads to wayward thoughts, tending to stress and depression.
A team of researchers from UCLA compared the brains of meditators and non-meditators from the past 20 years and found out that, in the case of the meditators, the decline of gray matter is comparatively less.
Meditation reduces inflammation caused by stress
Increased amounts of stress and anxiety may lead to the secretion of the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol leads to the release of harmful inflammatory chemicals like cytokines which can disturb sleep, lead to blurry thinking, increase blood pressure, and so on.
A study showed that meditating for 8 weeks straight reduces the secretion of this inflammatory chemical significantly. Meditation also helps to relieve other stress-related symptoms like PTSD, fibromyalgia, and abnormal bowel movements.
Meditation helps to connect you to your inner self
The main goal of meditation, from a spiritual aspect, is to identify yourself, not from the body or material possessions or the relationships, but the emotions, compassion, empathy, creativity, and love you possess. Meditation helps to change the Brain at a Certain Level.
When you devote yourself to the peaceful and calming silence of meditation, you experience expanded or pure awareness rather than confined awareness which tends to limit your possibilities. Slowly but surely, you awaken to your true self and let go of all the stress.
To summarize the above content, it is very clear that meditation is simply a gift when it comes to reducing stress. There are various ways to get rid of stress from your life, but nothing comes as easily as meditation. Moreover, it can be done anywhere and anytime and by anyone. Meditation is indeed a boon disguised as an exercise.
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“Mindfulness, meditation, and positivity – these three words describe me the best. I founded “BeHappyHuman” blog dedicated to spreading happiness and inner peace through mindfulness and meditation techniques. As a self-taught practitioner, I have been exploring these practices for the past decade and my passion lies in sharing their benefits with others. My mission is to help individuals achieve greater happiness.