Meditation is the practice of sitting still and breathing in a controlled manner for extended periods of time. While the practice has been around for a millennia, meditation has recently emerged as a popular approach to regulating both physical and mental wellbeing. Whether it’s used as a cool down in trendy yoga studios or to brainstorm in Silicon Valley boardrooms, meditation is proving to have wide appeal due to its calming nature. And now the science is weighing in. What ancient practitioners probably intuitively knew all along, modern science is now beginning to demonstrate. Meditation has a real impact on your health…
1. Stress Reduction
Perhaps the biggest impact that meditation has on our health has to do with counteracting the debilitating and wide-ranging effects of stress. A medical consensus has emerged over the past decade that chronic stress causes all sorts of problems including higher blood pressure, decreased immunity, and impaired cognitive functions. When you feel stressed, your body releases the “stress hormone,” cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol in your system is a problem on various levels and finding a way to reduce that level could help prevent a number of health issues from developing down the road. This is where meditation comes into play.
According to a 2013 study by the journal Health Psychology, the practice of meditation was shown to have an impact on the reduction of cortisol. The study followed its subjects for 3-months during a meditation retreat where they were trained in mindfulness, controlled breathing, and other meditative practices. Their cortisol levels were measured before and after the 3-month retreat and the researchers found that the cortisol level tended to trend downward for the participants.