Meditation is practiced by millions of people around the world every day. If you're not one of them, you're still likely to be familiar with what a stereotypical "mediation practice" looks like. Whether it's a roomful of monks holed up in quiet monasteries, yogis, sages or priests communing with their higher power in spiritual pursuits, or someone seated cross-legged on a beach at sunrise. Stillness, especially for a person always on the go, can be a bit intimidating. But we can all benefit from meditation, from wherever we are, and in whatever 'spiritual' context suits us. In fact, there are quite a few impressive health benefits to meditation that make it totally worth your while to give it a try.
- Lowers cholesterol levels and the risk of cardiovascular disease: The human body is a pretty weird thing. We go to all kinds of trouble to watch what we eat to make sure our bodies are the healthiest they can be (and it is without question an important thing to do!), but did you know that meditation all on its own can reduce your cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease? It all boils down to stress. Hormones released when the body is stressed act like free radicals, which destroy healthy cells. Cholesterol is what our cells use to repair the damage, and that can lead to excess amounts of cholesterol in the body. Meditation can reduce stress levels significantly, dropping cholesterol levels and reducing the risks of more serious illnesses including cardiovascular disease.
- Develops intuition: We all want superpowers, right? Well, as it turns out, we innately have quite a few, including the power of intuition. You've probably experienced the phenomenon before—a feeling of just knowing something was going to happen. Meditation can enhance this skill by helping you to focus your attention and by limiting distractions, which allows the mind to become more aware of its self and its environment, leading to an ability to anticipate things without actually knowing them.
- Patience: In this fast moving world, it's so easy to feel caught up and anxious, even we don't need to be. Rush hour traffic, for example, can make us feel like we are pressed for time, angry and irritated, when we might not have anywhere to be to get so angry about in the first place. It's the classic case of losing our patience, which triggers stress; and we now know that causes health issues. Meditation offers the opportunity to be present in each moment—not the past or the future, just the now—and can cultivate a more mindful sense of being and a more patient approach to life.
- Speeds Healing: Studies have found that patients with a variety of illnesses achieved faster recovery results when they practiced meditation during their healing process. Visualizing the body recovering from injury and illness, and quiet focus on the breath have been attributed to the results.
- Boosts Memory: People who frequently meditate show an increased thickness in the cerebral cortex, which helps to encourage mental sharpness and memory ability. It can also improve focus, concentration, learning and reasoning skills while decreasing anxiety, depression and stress.
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