How Meditation Can Lead to Better Health
Friday, September 5, 2014
We all know by now that stress can cause a host of health problems from insomnia to heart disease. But it’s just starting to become common knowledge that there’s a simple, drug-free cure for our stress-filled lives and all the aches, pains, sleepless nights and heart palpations that come with them. Sit down and get comfortable and you’ll be halfway to discovering the latest “prescription” doctors are lauding.
Mediation is an ancient practice that has its roots in Asia where it was used to quiet the mind and lead to spiritual wisdom. People still practice mediation for that reason today, but the medical community has taken an interest in the practice for the health benefits being identified by scientists and doctors in renowned institutions like Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins and University of Massachusetts.
According to the Journal of Internal Medicine, as reported in this NPR story, a regular meditation practice can help people who suffer from anxiety and depression. Editors at JAMA Internal Medicine reviewed 47 studies on meditation and health and found that even a very modest meditation practice of 2.5 hours per week can bring about improved mental health.
This TED talk illustrates that there are strong links between heart and brain health and a meditation practice. In the journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a study conducted on 201 people with coronary heart disease were either asked to participate in a health education class or start a meditation practice (based on a transcendental meditation class). Researchers followed the participants for 5 years and found that the participants from the meditation class had a 48% reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
Even if you just want to be better at fighting off colds and the flu, meditation can be the answer. A Harvard Medical School study found that long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation had far more activated ''disease-fighting genes'' than those who practiced no form of relaxation. Kick those health-boosting genes into gear with a little meditation down time!
If sitting quietly for short periods every day sounds like a great way to reduce stress and improve your health, give it a try. Find a local mediation center or use an online resource like this one from Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program at University of Massachusetts to get started.
We’re always here to help so if mediation isn’t for you or you have more serious health concerns that need to be addressed in the short term, come in for an appointment with one of our doctors.