Meditation is an ancient practice where individuals train their minds. This process helps to control our own thoughts and turn off our mind when we do not need it anymore. Meditation is so old that is too hard to define where it was practiced for the first time, what we know is that it was practiced by many religions. However, the origin could be even older. Researchers speculate that primitive hunter-gatherer societies may have discovered meditation and its altered states of consciousness while staring at the flames of their fires.
There are different types of meditation. For example, in a concentration meditation the individual has to focus in a single point, many start concentrating on their breath, other prefer to repeat a word or mantra while meditating. As this is a learning process, many give up really fast and stop meditating but if you keep on practicing in time you will master this technique. Other type of meditation is mindfulness meditation where the individual observes his or her thoughts without judging them. The objective here is to simply be aware about what is happening in your mind, understanding the inner meaning of each thought.
According to Hindu texts, Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” And he replied, “Nothing, however let me tell you what I lost: Anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death”. This is just an introduction about the many benefits which meditation brings us, the most important advantages are:
It reduces stress
A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there is evidence to support this rationale. Meditation gives you a break to rest physically and mentally, it also has a very direct effect on your entire nervous system by reducing your body’s production of stress related chemicals like cortisol, and increasing the production of mood enhancing chemicals like serotonin.
It enhances health
A study from Harvard Medical School demonstrates that, after practicing yoga and meditation, the individuals had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption and resiliency. This will improve your health by strengthening your immune system, reducing your blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels. People with serious medical conditions like cancer will sometimes turn to meditation as a means to enhance the process of healing and recovery. While meditation should never be used as a substitute for proper medical care, in some cases it can lead to medical breakthroughs and healing even when traditional medical treatments have been unsuccessful.
It slows aging
A study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain. Other studies into the effects of meditation have shown that the regular practice of meditation can slow the biological age. It is believed that the physiological cause of this is due to the fact that meditation helps to reduce the body’s production of free radicals. Free radicals are organic molecules that are responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases.
In brief, we have seen an introduction and the multiples benefits of meditation. This ancestral practice will keep you healthy, help prevent multiple diseases, make you happier, slow aging and improve your performance in basically any task, physical or mental. Nevertheless, to experience most of these benefits you need to practice meditation consistently. It can be tough at the beginning as everything, but if you want to enter in this ancient practice, you will never regret. And be sure you will be changed for good.