1.Improved concentration accuracy and selective attention
Do you find that you are becoming more and more forgetful as you try to cram everything that you need to know and do into that space that you call your head?
Studies have shown that regular meditation practices can improve your ability to concentrate – now we could all use more of this in our lives yes?
“A mindful state is characterised by full attention to, and awareness of, the internal and external experience of the present moment… whatever arises is acknowledged and examined without judgment, elaboration, or reaction”
Australian research found meditators showed increased (self-reported) mindful awareness, working memory (based on an internal switching task), executive function (reaction time on a digit span memory test). Executive function is often reduced in depression.
Chambers 2008 Attentional control memory (Uni Melb)
2. Anxiety, Stress and Depression
I have suffered with all of the above regularly throughout my life.
As a teenager and right into my 20’s I suffered with what I now know to be depression.
I was very lucky that during this time I was introduced to meditation and it was only in my 30’s when I stopped regular attendance and practice that my anxiety and stress levels seemed to get out of control.
At one stage my anxiety was so bad that I would regularly choke on my food and I was suffering from severe chest pains – I had all of these medically checked out but I wanted to be able to resolve the underlying issue of the anxiety and stress and find alternative ways to deal with them on my own.
So in 2013 when I finally reintroduced meditation into my daily life as a regular practice morning and night guess what happened – I could eat food without it getting stuck in my throat, my excessive and embarrassing sweating that no amount of multi million dollar deodorants helped me with disappeared and my stress levels significantly reduced.
Regular meditation reduces the level of Cortisol (stress hormone) in your body by switching off your flight or fight response.
A recent review of functional MRI studies on depression and meditation conducted in Queensland showed positive effects of mindfulness practice on the areas of the brain associated with depression.
It is possible that increased attention regulation, as well as the sense of self-efficacy that results from regular meditation, contributes to in an improvement in overall wellbeing.
(Annells 2016 Review Meditate Not Medicate Depression)
3. Reduced feelings of Anger
Significant changes in the experience of anger were observed prior and following meditation in both novice and experienced meditators.
Anger was measured by physiological parameters (respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure) and subjective anger (visual analog scale).
Experienced meditators showed relaxation-type response to anger induction (slowed breathing and heart rate, decreased blood pressure) before and after meditation training.
Whilst naïve meditators showed anger-type responses prior to meditation training, whilst after training they showed relaxation-type responses.
These results indicate that even a single training session of meditation is able to produce changes in the response to anger inducing situations.
I know that my reactions to situations that I now experience come from a much calmer and more centred space.
Don’t get me wrong, I still lose my *h*t especially when my beloved pushes all of the right buttons.
It’s the intensity of it that is no longer what it used to be and the time that it takes to evaluate and move on from the situation has vastly improved to the days of old when I could really hold onto something for a really long period of time.
I can now recognised the effect and the impact that the feelings of anger have on my body and on my wellbeing and I can make the choice through increased self awareness to consciously shift that.
4. Meditation has been shown to be effective for some forms of addiction
A lot more research is out there now in regards to the benefits that meditating has on addiction.
What is addiction at its core?
For me and my own experiences and my own understandings is that at the core of all of us is a deep need to feel fulfilled, to feel connected and to feel happy.
When you have a substance or you buy a product or you fall in love, you eat food you have an instant hit of feeling amazing, of feeling happy and connected you feel on top of the world.
What happens then is that you keep looking for that same hit, you have more substance, you eat more food, you buy more things, you go out on more dates, it’s just more more more to try and keep getting that initial feel good feeling.
Introducing a meditation practice into your life aids you in finding that sense of connection and happiness from within instead of looking for it outside of yourself.
5. Improves sleep
I too can vouch for this one also, right up until I was about 27 I suffered from terrible insomnia, once I introduced a regular meditation practice into my nightly routine this significantly quietened the mind and assisted me in shutting off so that I could go to sleep.
6. Improves your Immune System
Regular meditation has been shown to improve your immune system and overall health and wellbeing.
I know that since I have been meditating regularly I no longer get the amount of migraines that I once used to, my sinus problems have all but disappeared and believe me this has been a life long issue of mine and I have not had a (flu) or (cold) for that matter in years.
And at times when I have felt a little off it has not taken me long to get back to feeling well and healthy.
My resilience within myself and my body seems to be much higher than of those around me who aren’t managing their stress etc.
7. Reduces Inflammation in the Body
This is another one of the most surprising health benefits of meditation that I have learned.
Meditation is effective at reducing inflammation in your body.
A study found that those who participated in an 8 week course of mindfulness meditation training saw a reduction in stress-induced inflammation better than those that altered their diet and exercise level.
8. Reduces Pain
Meditation has been found to help reduce pain from common headaches to pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Study has shown that meditation can help reduce pain from headaches. I can certainly vouch for the reduction of migraines and I once used this on myself when I tore my calf muscle, omg the pain was excruciating, I went home,
I iced, and I literally laid on the couch and meditated for a few hours.
When I finally got to my physiotherapist she was surprised at how well I was coping and in the end with how well and quickly I recovered and was back up playing sport.
9. Improves Mood and Makes You Happy
Meditation increases serotonin (the happy chemical) which makes you feel good and boosts your mood.
Those that are under high stress or dealing with depression often have low levels of serotonin.
Meditation also aids the perineal gland in producing Dopamine another of the bodies natural feel good chemicals.
All of these natural feel good chemicals boost your mood therefore improving your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
10. Reduces your blood pressure
One study found that meditation was so effective for 40 out of 60 patients with high blood pressure, that they could stop taking blood pressure medicine.
Meditation helps promote relaxation and is very calming. Practicing meditation helps blood vessels to open and improves blood flow, which aids in decreasing blood pressure.
These and many more are all scientifically proven benefits of undertaking a regular meditation practice.
Since introducing Meditation as a daily practice into my life I have gone from working the corporate 9-5pm being incredibly stressed, suffering from cluster migraines, struggling with all sorts of addictive behaviours and patterns as well as self medicating for my mental health in so many ways it was just ridiculous.
Now I’m living a life that is for the majority stress free and more in alignment with who I am now in my life.
My life now is about helping others who are ready to take back control of their lives.
I honesty look back at that time of my life and I cannot believe that it was me.
I no longer resemble that person in any way and I am so grateful that meditation was the key for me on my healing journey.
I now teach meditation (certified ACHS) to other people, that’s how profoundly it effected my life and I believed so deeply in the power of it that I wanted to get it out to as many people as I could.
So many of my own personal breakthroughs, insights, releasing and forgiving of the past myself and others all happened from within the sacred space of Meditation.
If you would like to experience the power of Meditation and you feel inspired to share in your meditation journey experience with me, then why not join my online live fortnightly meditation classes HERE