You’ve heard meditation is good for you, and you may have even practiced meditation in the past. But did you know there are proven, scientific reasons why? Check out these eight reasons to meditate, and try the simple no-more-excuses practice below.
1. Meditation soothes anxiety.
Meditation lowers stress and promotes Zen-like calm. Dozens of studies show it significantly reduces symptoms in people with anxiety and mood disorders.
2. Meditation supports the immune system.
A regular meditation practice lowers stress response, cools chronic inflammation and promotes a healthy gut-barrier function — key to a balanced immune system.
3. Meditation makes you smarter.
Meditation increases blood flow to the brain, enhancing focus, cognition and memory.
4. Meditation eases depression.
The mood-boosting effects of meditation can ease the blues, even in people with clinically diagnosed depressive disorders or those suffering from an acute major depressive episode.
5. Meditation protects your heart.
Meditation lowers stress and cortisol and helps regulate blood pressure, insulin resistance, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease.
Studies also show a regular practice can decrease cardiovascular mortality.
6. Meditation reduces IBS.
A regular meditation practice eases symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence and bloating.
7. Meditation protects against Alzheimer’s.
Dementia, Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline are linked with chronic stress, sleep deficits and mood disturbance. Meditation targets all these risk factors, and studies show it can slow and possibly even prevent cognitive decline with aging.
8. Meditation makes PMS go away.
Practicing daily meditation helps ease mood swings, anxiety, sensitivity, irritability and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and it can be especially helpful in soothing PMS-related depression.
Think you don’t have the time (or the skills) to meditate? Even a few minutes of this simple no-more-excuses practice will leave you centered and grounded.
- Set a timer. Start with five minutes — increase the time by one minute every few days until you can sit for 20 to 30 minutes (or longer)!
- Find a comfortable place to sit. Sit cross-legged on the floor, in a comfortable chair or even in bed (but stay sitting up so you don’t doze off).
- Soften your body. Close your eyes and sweep your attention from your toes to the crown of your head, consciously relaxing any points of tension.
- Breathe deep. Take long, slow inhales and exhales through your nose, and notice how with each exhale, your body gets a little more relaxed.
- Let go of thoughts. It’s pretty much impossible to not think. (That’s what your mind does.) When thoughts enter your mind, gently redirect your attention to your breath.
- Don’t worry about doing it right. There is no “right.” You’ll think you’ll fidget and you’ll get bored. Just keep bringing your attention back to your breath — that is the meditation.