A recent article in the LA Times claimed that meditation is the number one health booster in 2015. Can this claim be true?
Meditation is a traditional practice done by millions worldwide. It is a way to de-stress the body and it can affect everything from job performance to sleep, and even weight. Meditation has gotten the Hollywood treatment as of late, with even Oprah doing online meditation challenges. Meditation programs are also being used in schools to help at-risk children. They even use it in our prison system to help incarcerated inmates cope with life in jail.
The goal of meditation is to move your focus to the mind and body connection. If not practiced for religious purposes it is sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing. Meditation is said to create a mindfulness that helps reduce stress, improve performance, and improve overall well being.
Studies have shown the activation of different parts of the brain that takes place while meditating. Although you are simply sitting and focusing on breathing, your mind is being activated. You can change your thought process through meditation.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a form of meditation that was developed through the study of Buddhist meditation and is being used to help ease pain, suffering, and stress in cancer patients. This form of meditation is now used in over 250 hospitals around the world to promote patient wellness.
A new Harvard study documented a link between meditation and an increase in gray matter in areas of the brain associated with learning, compassion, and memory, while noting a decrease in areas of the brain linked to anxiety and stress.
Who can benefit:
Children- Studies are being conducted that show kids can better deal with chronic stress and have fewer emotional outbursts while practicing meditation.
People wanting to loose weight- when people eat mindlessly, they consume more calories. Meditation helps reconnect the mind and body, which may be able to reinstate cues relating to hunger and satisfaction. Studies showed that by learning mindfulness, participants were able to eat more slowly, and consume 300 fewer calories less per day.
Everyone- anyone can see benefits from practicing meditation regularly!
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and at anytime. Here is how you can get started today:
Breathing- Sit in a quite place and breath deeply. When your mind begins to wander, refocus on your breath.
Human interactions- when you go to hug someone, take a few seconds to focus on the sensation of the hug. Try not to let go until you feel both bodies start to relax. This can help you feel more connected.
Eating- Want to enjoy more and eat less? While eating begin to consciously slow down. Look at your food, touch it, and smell it. Think about how your food has come to be (from growing, to prep, to being in front of you). Then eat it very slowly. Taste the food on all parts of your tongue. How do you respond to your food? Is it good? Chew slowly and then swallow. Notice how you feel. This is traditionally practiced with a grape.
Walking- Everyday you have to walk somewhere. You might as well get some meditation while in the process. Focus on each step you take. How does it feel and what do you see? Focus on your breathing as you walk. Do not worry about the destination.
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This information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.
LA Times Jan 11,2015