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Four incredible benefits of meditation

By Tracy Dye

You’ve probably heard of meditation as being a great way to calm down and focus your mind. However, it can be difficult for some to pin down a correct definition of the practice. So what is meditation, exactly?

There are some misconceptions attached to the practice. To better explain what meditation is, let’s first take a look at what it is not. Meditation is not:

  • Pushing away unwanted thoughts
  • Getting rid of all your thoughts
  • Being in a state of pure bliss
  • Sitting and doing nothing

Meditation is the practice of allowing the mind to open; it is gaining awareness of the present moment. Though simple, this practice can offer numerous benefits, from stress reduction to greater longevity.

  1. Stress reduction

Work can be a great source of stress, but unemployment can be an even greater source. When finances, family obligations and career goals hang in the balance, how can you possibly ease your mind?

A study published in Biological Psychiatry found that mindfulness meditation training was able to significantly reduce stress in a group of unemployed, job-seeking adults. The positive effects of meditation were both reported by the participants and shown in brain scans.

  1. Protects the brain

People are living longer, but quality of life in the aging population can be threatened by things like brain deterioration, Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study conducted by the Department of Neurology at UCLA found that long-time meditators had less gray matter decline than non-meditators.

This means that the brain can potentially be better preserved through regular practice of meditation.

  1. Lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are characterized by several symptoms that can be — at a minimum — uncomfortable and debilitating at their most severe. Both disorders are extremely common, with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affecting 3.1 percent of the United States, and major depressive disorder affecting 6.5 percent of the nation’s adults.

More than 47 studies have shown that meditation can reduce anxiety, depression and pain. Although meditation should not be used as a replacement for therapy and medication, it can be a great support for those treatments.

  1. Protects your heart

According to the American Heart Association, just a few minutes of meditation each day can seriously affect your cardiovascular health. Meditation can lower blood pressure and reduce your chances of heart attack or stroke. This is due to meditation’s ability to alleviate stress, which weighs heavily on the heart and the mind.

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Sitting in stillness isn’t the only way to meditate. Mind body modalities like tai chi and qigong incorporate meditation into practices, as does yoga. Learn more about these opportunities for recovery and rejuvenation by visiting us at Haven on the Lake, or call 410-715-3020.

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