Meditation for Health and Wellbeing
If you think meditation is only for alternative thinkers who drink herbal tea, it’s time to think again. Scientific studies are showing that meditation can have a profoundly positive impact on your health and wellbeing at both a physical and mental level – regardless of your beliefs or the kind of tea you drink.
While advocates believe that meditating benefits every health condition in some way, the science tells us that you’d be wise to adopt meditation if you’re dealing with one or more of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- Aching muscles and joints
- Menopausal symptoms
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Lowered Immunity
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pain (acute and chronic)
- Memory decline
- Emotional over-reactivity
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Research is even suggesting that meditation could help slow the ageing process and the development of age-related diseases.
How Does Meditation Work?
Meditation, regardless of which type you choose, involves intentionally shifting yourself into a more peaceful state of being. This is beneficial as most people are living in a constant state of stress, and are unaware they’re in an incessant state of fight or flight. Living this way is corrosive to the body, as it causes a steady flow of stress hormones, inflammatory chemicals and other substances to enter your bloodstream that:
- accelerate ageing
- slow the healing process.
Finding ways to feel more at peace, like meditating, is one way to interrupt this persistent fight or flight response and boost wellness.
Interestingly, studies have shown that meditation is almost as beneficial for lowering stress and increasing wellbeing as vacation time.
Which Meditation Style Is Best For You?
If you’re new to meditation, it can be overwhelming to discover the many meditation styles available. While all of them have the potential to help you feel more calm, the reality is that you will resonate with some styles more than others.
The key to using meditation for health and wellbeing is to practice regularly, which means the style you enjoy most, and are willing to stick with, will be a good choice for you. It doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy, nor do you need to spend money to attend a class to get results.
In saying this, science is finding that some meditation styles may benefit certain health conditions more than others. Here are 3 popular meditiation styles for you to consider.
This popular meditation technique involves sitting or lying in a quiet space and becoming acutely aware of what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment, without judgement or interpretation. Breathing techniques and guided imagery are often used.
When to use: Studies indicate that Mindfulness Meditation can improve pain-related disorders, such as lower back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and fibromyalgia. It is also beneficial for general stress relief, sleep disorders, high blood pressure and immunity.
Involves sitting quietly with your eyes closed and silently repeating specific mantras, often under the instruction of a certified teacher. This practice is ideal for those who like structure, and is said to minimise distracting thoughts and improve relaxed awareness.
When to use: Transcendental Meditation has been extensively studied for its ability to improve high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. Emerging evidence suggests it could also benefit caregivers who experience compassion fatigue.
This style of meditation uses gentle movements to guide and calm you. It is great for those who find peace in movement, and it may take the form of Qigong, Tai Chi, Yoga, Aikido and Walking Meditations.
When to use: Movement Meditation is recognised as beneficial for stress, anxiety and depression, and other psychological-based conditions.
It’s clear that meditation is helping men and women around the world feel healthier and less stressed. However, if you’re still skeptical that meditation can benefit you, that’s okay – this simply means you’ve got nothing to lose when you try it.
Imagine if meditating for just 15 minutes a day meant that you had less pain, used fewer medications, or that you felt less grumpy or anxious throughout the day. Science says that all of this is possible when you meditate regularly.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – Meditation: In Depth, 2016 https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
A pilot study of yogic meditation for family dementia caregivers with depressive symptoms: Effects on mental health, cognition, and telomerase activity, 2014
Mindfulness meditation–based pain relief: a mechanistic account, 2017
Mindfulness meditation and exercise both improve sleep quality: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial of community dwelling adults, 2020
Self-Care Strategies for Professional Development: Transcendental Meditation Reduces Compassion Fatigue and Improves Resilience for Nurses, 2019