- 1 What is the origin of meditation?
- 2 What is meditation?
- 3 Top 5 meditation health benefits
- 4 Are there any contraindications to meditation for health?
- 5 What are the different types of meditation?
- 6 How do I practice meditation?
- 7 How does a meditation session work?
Meditation is a spiritual practice of Eastern origin, its health benefits vary. It is about relaxing the mind to reach a state of increased attention. It is often recommended against stress, but not only. What are meditation health benefits? Where does it come from? How to practice it? What are its recognized virtues? We take stock.
What is the origin of meditation?
From the Latin meditation meaning “preparation” or “reflection”, meditation is an ancient spiritual practice of Eastern origin. In the Buddhist tradition, it is intended to promote clairvoyance in order to transform our relationship with the world.
In France, the practice of meditation gradually took hold in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to a renewed interest in spiritual approaches of Eastern origin. The scientific study of the health benefits of meditation began late in the 20th century and early in the 21st.
What is meditation?
According to the principle of meditation, breaks of the mind are necessary for the mental and physical health of a person. The mind, too often (pre)occupied by situations, emotions, and memories, no longer has time to digest information and develop its sense of attention. This attention is necessary to manage problems, anxiety, and to develop a greater presence in the here and now.
The person wishing to meditate concentrates on an object, a sound, or anything else that captures his or her attention enough to avoid being distracted by thoughts. The goal is to obtain a certain letting go where one accepts to see one’s emotions pass by without having any control over them. This would allow you to discover your true nature.
Top 5 meditation health benefits
More and more scientific studies are looking at the meditation health benefits. This inexpensive, easy-to-implement practice, with no side effects, seems to promote concentration, limit cardiovascular problems, and reduce pain.
Meditation promotes mental well-being
Various studies have shown that meditation health benefits include limiting stress, anxiety, and the risk of depression. For example, in a Belgian study of 400 young people aged 13 to 20, those who followed a mindfulness program showed fewer signs of depression, anxiety, and stress than those who did not, up to six months later. These youth were less likely to develop depressive symptoms. In 2014, a review that analyzed 36 randomized controlled trials found that meditation could reduce anxiety symptoms.
In general, meditation improves mood and psychological well-being, as a British study has shown. Finally, an Indian study found that meditation reduced the effects of stress and promoted relaxation in adults who had never practiced it.
Meditation stimulates the brain
Meditation health benefits go beyond mental well-being; meditation promotes attention, memory and would limit the effects of age on the brain. Harvard researchers have shown that meditation increases the amount of grey matter in the brain that is linked to concentration. To arrive at this result, they conducted an experiment on 16 people who followed an eight-week mindfulness meditation program. The participants were compared to a group of 17 controls. MRI scans showed that gray matter increased in areas of the brain involved in learning, memory and emotional control.
Similarly, in a University of California study, participants were better able to focus on repetitive tasks through meditation practice. In another study of 48 adults with attention deficit disorder, those who received mindfulness therapy reduced hyperactivity, impulsivity, and therefore inattention problems.
Meditation reduces pain
Several studies have shown that meditation health benefits include reducing pain. For example, researchers at the University of California compared 12 people who had a long meditation practice and 12 controls. The people who were seasoned in meditation had 40-50% lower brain responses to pain than the controls. When the 12 controls learned Transcendental Meditation for five months, they too experienced a reduction in their brain response to pain.
Meditation would be good for our cardiovascular health
One of the most important meditation health benefits is enhancing cardiovascular health. In a 2012 study, 200 people at cardiovascular risk underwent either sessions to promote better diet and exercise or sessions on Transcendental Meditation. Participants were followed for five years. The researchers found that those who took the meditation sessions reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke, and death by 48%. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure. An Indian study also found that meditation reduces heart rate and breathing patterns.
Meditation is good for immunity
One study showed that meditation health benefits include even genes: pro-inflammatory genes are less expressed, which explains why the body recovers more easily after a stressful situation. In a study that compared mindfulness to other interventions (music therapy, exercise, nutrition education), the latter techniques were the most effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms.
Are there any contraindications to meditation for health?
Meditation is for everyone, including children. There are no contraindications to the practice of meditation. However, people with psychiatric disorders are advised to ask their doctor for advice on the most suitable meditation for them.
What are the different types of meditation?
Mindfulness meditation health benefits are a lot, it is used in medicine, particularly in psychiatry, or in stress reduction workshops. It allows us to stabilize our thoughts by paying deliberate attention, without judgment, to the present moment and to everything that surrounds us, both externally (sounds) and internally (extraneous thoughts). It has been codified and has been the subject of much medical research.
It is composed of several approaches, of which the three main ones are:
- Zazen meditation: originating in Japan, it is based on the requirement of the lotus posture which allows the union of body and mind;
- Vipassana meditation: originating in Southeast Asia, it means “seeing clearly and deeply”;
- Tibetan meditation: a meditation with an altruistic perspective, whose ambassador is the Dalai Lama.
Transcendental meditation is considered a relaxation and personal development technique to reach absolute consciousness that transcends other levels of consciousness. It is considered quite separate from the practice of meditation by some specialists.
there are other meditation types that are not mentioned here.
How do I practice meditation?
It is recommended that you learn about meditation (introductory courses, books, etc.) before beginning a long-term practice if you want to bear the meditation health benefits. This first approach allows you to understand if you really want to practice meditation or if you feel alienated from this world. The student of meditation must indeed follow a difficult path to arrive at a path of inner transformation.
If your interest in meditation is confirmed, it is a good idea to join a group to deepen and share your experience. The practice of meditation requires patience and diligence to achieve results. Working in a group allows you to learn from others and increases your motivation.
Meditation can be practiced while walking, standing, or sitting, silently or by repeating a word or sound. The most popular position for meditation is the lotus position with the legs crossed, but it is not accessible to everyone. Some people opt for a lotus shape that offers more stability. The places of meditation are also varied: in a room, a garden, a place of retreat, a dedicated center…
Like any exercise, meditation requires a certain amount of training of the mind. It is up to you to choose the school of meditation that suits you best. The most well-known is Buddhist meditation and mindfulness meditation.
How does a meditation session work?
Meditation, whether in a group or alone, is practiced in much the same way. The mind must keep its attention on something specific to avoid wandering. The most common technique is to focus on the breath in the lotus position. It also depends in part on the type of meditation chosen.
To meditate by yourself at home, you just need to sit in a quiet room, in a suitable posture, close your eyes and relax. Then, you can fix your attention on an image, visualize each part of your body starting from your feet or focus your meditation on your breathing.
The idea is to give your mind time to rest. With practice, you will be able to recharge your batteries and deal with problems throughout your day.
Mindfulness meditation, for example, takes place over a cycle of eight weeks with two to three hours of group instruction per week. The goal is to focus your attention on your body and let your emotions come to you without letting them “take you over”.
The exercise allows one to settle down in a calm environment and to let oneself be guided by one’s breath until one gains some distance and acceptance. The sessions are followed by a debriefing to let the students give their opinion on the difficulty of the exercise. The meditation teacher can give some advice or suggest exercises that can be easily reproduced at home. After about two months, the students have acquired the basics of meditation, necessary to practice it on their own.
After that, it is recommended to attend a one-week course. The teaching is more advanced, the exercises are longer, and sometimes painful emotions arise that need to be digested. Finally, once a year, you can take a few days of meditation retreat to take stock and recharge your batteries.
Finally, we hope that you have enjoyed the reading of this article and you have got your answer about the most important meditation health benefits. In case you have got any query or problem about the content of the article, please feel free to write to us.
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