Meditation reduces blood pressure [AP Photo]

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a practice that gives balance physically, emotionally and mentally. Today, people are using meditation to treat anxiety, stress, and depression. The “deep rest” meditation gives a person dissolves stress and enables him or her to makes better choices through clear thinking. Those who meditate report higher levels of self-esteem. The practice has also been used to help people quit smoking, conquer drug and alcohol addictions, reduce blood pressure and reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause. Meditation aids in lowering heart rate and blood pressure by slowing down breathing, which reduces the amount of oxygen needed. Along with the mind, muscles gently relax. “Some experts have compared it to a ‘reset button’ for your body.” (“Meditation as Medication”)

However, meditation shouldn’t be used as a replacement to traditional Western medicine, but as a supplement to treatments your doctor has recommended for you.

Babies meditating [AP Photo]

Through experiments and tests using practiced meditators, Herbert Benson, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, discovered that meditation counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system – the one that gives humans the desire to fight or flee in any conflict situation. While primitive people needed this response in hunting situations, today it is the reason for many of our everyday stresses. During meditation, blood flow is directed to the parasympathetic nervous system instead. This is the part of the brain that triggers relaxation, a slower pulse and energy conservation – the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system.

Many studies are still being conducted about the effects of meditation. As more scientific knowledge is gathered, meditation will become a more accurately and frequently prescribed treatment.

Psychological Benefits

  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • increased creativity and intelligence
  • reduced depression
  • increased learning ability, moral
    reasoning and memory
  • reduced irritability and moodiness
  • feelings of vitality and rejuvenation
  • increased emotional control
  • increased self-esteem
  • increased alertness
  • improved relationships
  • improved concentration

Physiological Benefits

  • may help lower blood pressure
  • prevented, slowed or controlled pain
    of chronic diseases
  • boosted immune system
  • lowered cholesterol levels
  • improved airflow, especially in those
    with asthma
  • younger biological age