No products in the cart.

The Best 4 Benefits of Meditation and How to Achieve Your Health Goals

Woman meditating

Do you find yourself silently cursing the world around you when sitting in stand-still traffic? Does it take everything in you to maintain your composure when the line at the grocery store is taking far too long? How about your children; do they manage to push every single last one of your buttons? You’re not alone. If there is one thing that most people in the world today have, it is stress. It is no secret that stress can have detrimental effects on your health… So how do we reduce stress and combat the things that make our blood pressures rise on a daily basis? Nothing. Yes, you read that correctly. Just breathe. Allow yourself to simply exist and melt into this flow-like state, known as “meditation”. An ancient practice, dating back well before modern times, meditation is essentially the cure-all pill for health ailments that society is looking for. The problem is, it can be a bit more (but not much!) labor intensive than just washing back a tablet that is smaller than an M&M. However, the benefits can quite literally save your life, and there are no risky side effects like with almost all of today’s current medicines. In this article, one will learn more about the history of and copious health benefits that stem from the art of meditation

History of Meditation 

Most people are particularly familiar with the mindfulness practices of meditation in the sense of connecting the body with the breath during a yoga session. In reality, the depths of meditation date back too long before society commercialized stretching. The act of sitting with one’s thoughts (or trying to quiet them) and focusing on your breath is so old that historians and experts are unable to pinpoint exactly where, why, and how this spiritual phenomenon came to be (A brief history of meditation, mindworks.org). It is guessed that early shamans and even ancient hunter-gatherers dipped their toes in the pool of meditation and passed along their information via storytelling and cave drawings. This spiritual practice has made its way from pre-civilization all the way to today’s society; let’s examine how. 

Buddhism 

Popularized by the religion of Buddhism, meditation quickly (and for good reason) gained traction in continents other than Asia. The Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, proclaimed that meditation, seeing things for what they truly are, and ethical conduct could take one all the way to enlightenment. Siddhartha Gautama once lived a lavish, comfortable lifestyle as a prince, but at the ripe age of 29, Gauatama witnessed old age, death, and illness through different older men that he met. It is with these images of an eventual, inevitable fate that he had decided to forgo his riches and devote himself to finding out more about the meaning of life beyond all the glamor. Siddhartha sought out mentors, such as yogis, and spent his time deep in nature, connecting with the mind. He even gave up eating so he could focus all of his attention and efforts on achieving a spiritual breakthrough. It is through this range of two completely different ways of living that Siddhartha unearthed his key to enlightenment and earned his title as “Buddha”, or “the enlightened one”. He believed that the middle path, neither extreme gluttony nor self-mortician, was the way to successfully achieve eternal peace and happiness. Individuals heard and digested what the Buddha had to offer. With this information, these initial followers spread the practice like wildfire. 

golden buddha in ancient temples

The Silk Road

The Silk Road, a trading route that has been around for ages and spreads from Asia to Europe, is largely responsible for how easily religion was shared. Though the route primarily dealt with the exchange of physical, tangible goods… ideas, customs, and traditions were inevitably shared along the way (The Silk Road, nationalgeographic.org). It’s important to note, however, that meditation began even before the Buddha, himself, came to be. One can find that The Vedas, an ancient text discovered in India, discussed rituals, hymns, yoga and meditation (National Library of Medicine, Meditation process and effects). This text, written in Sanskrit, went on to lay the foundation for Hinduism, which came roughly around 1700 B.C.E. (Hinduism and Buddhism- an introduction, smarthistory.org). As the art of quieting the mind made its way to new cities due to its travel along the Silk Road, meditation adapted to its surroundings. The actual act of meditation began to look different from what The Vedas described it as depending on where it was being practiced. 

The Original Meditation 

While nowadays meditation is an umbrella term for anything that can allow an individual to simply focus on the present moment, However, there are many different meditation techniques that range from sitting, standing and movement meditation as seen in Chi Gong, Tai Chi and Yoga. In addition, guided and visual meditations have become increasingly popular with the help of apps such as Youtube, Tik Tok and Headspace. Last but not least, there is also Vedic meditation. This meditation has a few specific instructions. Now referred to as “Transcendental Meditation”(yogapractice.com, Vedic Meditation), The Vedas called for individuals to repeat a mantra, silently, in one’s head. A mantra is a word or phrase used to evoke a response in the mind. Typically, a teacher would assign the chosen mantra to the student. The text also instructed that the meditators should practice twice a day, for twenty minutes each session (once in the morning and once in the evening, but not before bed as the practice can cause energy to begin flowing around the body). Today, meditation can be described as anything that puts a person’s mind in a “flow-like” state. Flow-like refers to a sensation that feels relaxed, yet focused(bbc.co.uk, Meditation). It can elicit a feeling of being “in the now”, and detached from any day to day concerns or anxieties. My idea of meditation and what gets me in that head space can appear very different from what you may choose to do to get into the same feeling. The good news is, no matter what way meditation is done, we can all reap the same bounty of health benefits that the practice offers. 

Benefits of Meditation: How It Can Help You

We’ve all heard the claim that the benefits of meditation can improve your stress levels, but did you know it can help heal your physical health problems and deal with chronic pain? That’s right. Taking time out of your day to find a way to slow down can actually do your body some good. In today’s hustle and grind culture, it is difficult to feel like you are allowed to take a step back from all the stress. Lucky for you, science actually proves that you need to take a break, physically and mentally. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what meditation promises it can do for you. 

benefits of meditation

Weight Loss: 

Yes, you read that correctly. Meditation can be an incredibly useful tool for those looking to lose weight. Proven time and time again by different studies, scientists have proven that meditation in combination with a healthy diet and exercise can generate more weight and inches lost than proper nutrition and physical activity alone. In fact, in a systematic review done by the

See also  How I Went from Refugee to Pro Wrestler and Fitness Model

Official Journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, they discovered 19 different bodies of research dissecting the relationship between meditation and weight loss. 13 of them specifically noted a more dramatic change in body mass in the participants of the study that received mindfulness meditation intervention. While more research may need to be done to establish exactly what the connection is between the two, meditation can decrease more than just your weight. 

Blood Pressure: 

Many of us have fallen victim to the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2021) nearly half of all Americans (116 million people, to be exact) have hypertension, or high blood pressure. That is a lot of people on beta blockers, a drug used to lower blood pressure levels. Recent studies have shown that meditation can be a successful means of lowering systolic blood pressure. Another collective review done by the Journal of Human Hypertension investigated twelve different studies regarding transcendental meditation and its effects on blood pressure levels. Nearly 1000 people participated in the experiments and the results showed that those who partook in the meditation sessions were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by an average of about 4 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2 mmHg. Transcendental meditation also proved to produce the most profound impact on those 65 years and older, those with higher levels to begin with, and women. If your trip to the pharmacy is hurting your pockets, it may be time to give meditation a try. 

Lifespan: 

While being in a meditative state for several minutes each day can not guarantee that you will live forever, it can lengthen your time here on earth. There have been multiple scientific cases that suggest the correlation between meditation and a longer aging process. Biologically, meditation stimulates the release of telomerase in blood cells. This enzyme is linked to good health and longevity (BioMedCentral, Why could meditation help promote mental health and wellbeing in aging?). Brain activity in participants of younger age also revealed that meditation improved brain structure in the limbic and frontal areas, as well as the insula. These findings are significant due to the fact that as we age, those areas of the brain are where deterioration gathers. Beginning this practice earlier in your life may pay off later down the road. If your focus is to maintain your quality of life as you grow older, the benefits of meditation is sure to help achieve that goal. 

Mental Health: 

brain and mental health concept

We can’t touch on how meditation affects certain parts of the brain without discussing its impression on mental health. Depression and anxiety are two other health issues that a lot of the general public deals with in today’s society. In fact, anxiety is the most common mental illness among the US population, ringing in at 40 million people who suffer with the disease (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Anxiety). Depression affects more than 17 million individuals in the United States, as well (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Depression). If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, meditation can be a cost-effective way to alleviate your symptoms and potentially rewire your brain to help mitigate the illness. College students are at high risk for feelings of stress and anxiety due to the nature and demand of attending school. In a study done by The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Medicine, they examined a group of about twenty students for a little over a month. The participants not in the controlled group underwent a six week program where they did yoga and practiced mindfulness meditation. The results showed a decrease in stress and anxiety levels and even suggested that practicing mindfulness for just once a week can still improve one’s mental state. 

The art of meditation has evolved an incredible amount since its birth. What once was accomplished by just sitting quietly, allowing thoughts to pass by without judgment, can now be done in basically any way the individual sees fit. If your idea of relaxation and focus involves lifting weights, or singing in the car, or painting, or writing, or walking, or anything else your heart desires, that is great! Congratulate yourself on taking the time to indulge in a practice that will give back to your body and mind. It is safe to assume that our ancestors and predecessors would not care exactly how one achieves a meditative state, but they would simply be happy to see the ancient practice still alive to this day. There is a long line of people to thank for the transfer of meditation into modern times, so if you haven’t tried it yet, what is stopping you from starting a regular meditation practice? Here are some more ideas on how to tap into that blissfully aware mindset: – Yoga 

– Drawing 

– Playing an instrument 

– Knitting or Crochet 

– Reading 

– Listening to the ocean 

Have an awesOHM time trying out new ways to meditate and improve your health.

References: 

Bai, Z., Chang, J., Chen, C., Li, P., Yang, K., & Chi, I. (2015, February 12). Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nature News. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://www.nature.com/articles/jhh20156

BBC. (2009, November 24). Religions – buddhism: Meditation. BBC. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/customs/meditation_1.shtml 

CDC. (2021, September 27). Facts about hypertension. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm#:~:text=Nearly%20half%20of%20adults%20i n,are%20taking%20medication%20for%20hypertension. 

Chételat, G., Lutz, A., Arenaza-Urquijo, E., Collette, F., Klimecki, O., & Marchant, N. (2018, June 22). Why could meditation practice help promote mental health and well-being in aging? – alzheimer’s research & therapy. BioMed Central. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://alzres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13195-018-0388-5 

Depression: Anxiety and depression association of america, ADAA. Depression | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression 

Facts & Statistics: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Facts & Statistics | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics 

Departments of Psychology (K.L.O. (n.d.). Mindfulness and weight loss: A systematic review : Psychosomatic Medicine. LWW. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2015/01000/Mindfulness_and_ Weight_Loss__A_Systematic_Review.9.aspx 

Lemay, V., Hoolahan, J., & Buchanan, A. (2019, June 1). Impact of a yoga and meditation intervention on students’ stress and Anxiety Levels. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.ajpe.org/content/83/5/7001.abstract 

Mackenzie, A. (2021, May 27). Vedic meditation: A guide to how this ancient tradition works. YOGA PRACTICE. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://yogapractice.com/yoga/vedic-meditation/

National Geographic Society. (n.d.). The Silk Road. National Geographic Society. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/silk-road

Press, C. (2020, February 11). Vedic meditation 101: Your guide to this ancient tradition. YogiApproved. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://www.yogiapproved.com/vedic-meditation-introduction/

Rod-ari, D. M. (n.d.). Hinduism and Buddhism, an introduction. Smarthistory. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://smarthistory.org/hinduism-and-buddhism-an-introduction/ 

Ross, A. (2016, March 9). Meditation history: Religious practice to mainstream trend. Time. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://time.com/4246928/meditation-history-buddhism/

Sharma, H. (2015). Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/ 

(2021, May 14). Where does meditation come from? meditation history & origins. Mindworks Meditation. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from 

https://mindworks.org/blog/history-origins-of-meditation/

Previous 9 Best Dumbell Exercises for Legs

Leave a Comment

10% Off

Enter your email and get 10% off your first order!