OK, so I admit, I’ve become a bit of a YouTube junkie. I use to it listen to different songs, as well as to listen to soundtracks from my favorite anime shows, movies, and video games. A few days ago, I was watching a video about Gohan, my favorite character in Dragon Ball Z, and the secrets of his ultimate ( or fan named Mystic) form. Dragon Ball Z was my favorite show as a kid ( thank you Toonami) and still is one of the best anime series ever made. If you don’t know what Dragon Ball Z is then…who are you?
Anyway, after watching that video, I clicked on another video in the related selection. What both videos talked about was the power of meditation. What is meditation? We’ve seen many movies and TV shows where people( mostly martial artist) do it, but what is it exactly? Simply put, it is the practice of calming the mind and relaxing the body. I’ve been doing this practice daily for nearly two weeks, and I’m certainly reaping the benefits. Let’s look at some of the health benefits of meditation and why you should also make it a daily practice.
Health Benefits Of Meditation
We are all pretty busy people. We spend the majority of our days at work or at school. Maybe you’re working toward a goal or have a big project that you are trying to finish. We work ourselves to the bone trying to get done what needs to be done, but at the same time, we increase our stress levels. It certainly doesn’t help if you have an annoying, pain in the butt boss or teacher that keeps breathing down your neck. Also, if you work in customer service, the stress is real.
High-stress levels are also not good for your fitness journey either. Stress produces a hormone in the body called cortisol. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that stops the production of testosterone and reduces protein synthesis, which in turn, halts fat loss and muscle growth and promotes muscle breakdown. Not only can meditation help to reduce stress, but it can also help you gain a more positive outlook on life. A study shows that meditators had reduced stress and smaller cortisol levels than non-meditators. So who’s ready to be less stressed and happier?
Improves Immune System
Your immune system is the cornerstone of your health. It protects you from diseases and other harmful organisms, but the specifics on how it does that have been a mystery for the most part. However, did you know that our immune system communicates with our brains? Deepak Chopra, M.D. stated, “Then, in the ‘80s it was discovered that the immune system is highly intelligent; it became known as ‘a floating brain’ because of the ability of immune cells to participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain throughout the body.”
This means that all the thoughts and feelings you have inside can affect how your immune system operates. The right anterior insula, prefrontal cortex, and right hippocampus act as the base for the immune system. They control anxiety, awareness and positive emotion. Meditation stimulates these areas, allowing the immune system to work more efficiently and effectively. Just to give an example, a study showed an increase in antibodies in individuals who participated in an 8-week meditation program.
Have you ever been working on something important, and you find your mind wandering elsewhere or you find yourself getting easily distracted. Trust me, you are not alone. Even to this day, I still find myself losing focus when working on my articles and even while I’m at work. However, after a few days of meditation, I have found that my focus is growing stronger.
This comes as no surprise since meditation improves mental focus and cognitive performance. In a study posted in the Journal of Neuroscience, neuroscientist Guiseppe Pagnoni took a group of 12 Zen meditators and 12 volunteers who’ve never meditated before in their life and put them in an MRI machine. He found that the meditators had better control of their thoughts than the non-meditators. Can definitely come in handy for work and school, especially if you find yourself constantly fantasizing about that cute coworker or classmate.
Can Slow Down Aging
When people ask how old I am, they’re stunned because I look young. I know that there are a lot of people out there who would like to say the same thing, and meditation can help with that.Now getting older is a part of life and there is nothing we can do to stop that, however, that doesn’t mean we have to “age”. During one of his workout videos, Tony Horton said he doesn’t believe in “aging”, and that as we get older we can still be better.
Going back to a previous point, high stress can age the cells in our bodies known as telomeres. Telomeres are caps at the end of each chromosome. These caps shorten every time a chromosome replicates until it can’t shorten anymore. Also, certain age-related diseases seem to be associated with shorter telomeres. However, study shows that, in a similar age group and lifestyle, practitioners of Zen meditation had longer telomeres than those who didn’t. Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of being able to turn heads even in my elderly years sounds very appealing.
Help You Get a Good Night’s Rest
Ever since I started going to the gym early in the morning, I haven’t been getting enough sleep. Once I realized this, I started doing whatever I could to get a good night’s rest. I made sure to be in bed early enough to get at least get 7 – 8 hours.
However, I found myself not being able to fall asleep immediately and waking up very tired. I’ve implemented techniques such as shutting off all electronics and just laying on my bed in my room with the lights off, which seem to work at first, but only worked for a fraction of the time.
I remember one particular night where I did all these things but found myself unable to fall asleep at all. I later realized that the stress from work was preventing me from getting a good night’s sleep. Stress from the past and future can have our minds racing, preventing our ability to sleep. However, once I started meditating, I’ve been able to clear my mind and fall asleep fast.
A study conducted in the JAMA Internal Medicine took 49 adults where one half practiced mindful meditation, while the other half took a class on sleep education. Results showed that the group who practiced meditation had less fatigue, depression, and insomnia. This is because meditation can help you get quality sleep. One thing to remember when it comes to sleep is that quality is more important than quantity. You’ll never be fully rested unless you get good, quality sleep.
As you can see the health benefits of meditation are amazing. At this point, you’re probably wondering how to meditate. There are many different techniques to meditation that you can search for. However, here’s the method that I find the easiest and most effective. Find a comfortable place to sit and take slow deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do your best to keep your focus on the breath as it is easy to let your mind wander. If that happens, just bring your focus back and you’ll be good. Doing this from anywhere between 10 – 30 minutes is plenty of time. I’ve been feeling so much better, happier and more at peace since I’ve started meditating. How about you? Have you experienced the health benefits of meditation for yourself?. Leave your comments below.