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Letting Go of Stress Through Meditation

written by Guest Blogger August 19, 2012

Meditation is coming up in my life a lot these days. I`ve been journalling daily for about a month, and I have several friends pursuing their own meditation investigation (one is enjoying her Zen Mediation Meet-Up Group and another recently experienced a 10-day silent meditation retreat). According to guest blogger, Jordan Traeger, we`re practicing an effective stress-management technique!  

When the word meditation is mentioned, many people automatically think of yogis, hippies or other far out people that are not in tune with the demands of their daily lives. However, meditation has many well-established benefits that are beginning to be accepted and explained by western scientists.

In addition to finding inner peace, meditation has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. Meditating also relieves stress, an underlying factor in many physical and mental health conditions.

With scientific evidence for the health benefits of meditation growing all the time, why not see for yourself the dramatic positive effects that meditation can have on your body and mind?

There are many styles of meditative practice, which means that one of them is sure to fit your personality, needs and lifestyle:

Mindfulness meditation is one of the most common and involves simply being aware of what is going on in your body and mind. The key to this type of meditation is simply to notice sensations without judging or trying to control them. Practitioners of mindfulness meditation say that it helps them to identify their worries and fears and learn to cope with stressful situations without becoming anxious.

Transcendental meditation, on the other hand, allows the meditator to tap into a deeper level of consciousness. People who practice transcendental meditation describe their experience as a deeply spiritual and restorative reconnection with their true selves.

Benefits of Meditation

If all that sounds a bit far out, you might be interested in a study published in one of the academic journals of the American Medical Association¹, which showed that transcendental meditation lowers blood pressure in patients diagnosed with heart conditions. This beneficial effect is thought to arise from meditation’s stabilizing effect on the metabolism.

The most well-known benefit of meditation is its effect on mental health. A recent study² found that mindfulness meditation is as effective as anti-depressant drugs at preventing relapse in patients recovering from depression. As well as activating a short-term relaxation response, evidence is emerging to show that regular meditation trains the mind to be stable and resistant to the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Meditating for just a few minutes every day could help to prepare you to face stressful situations in the future.

Meditation is suitable for everyone, but it could be of particular benefit to people approaching old age. Although many of the conditions that will affect us as we age are determined by our genes, lifestyle factors can play a huge part in altering how those genes are expressed.

For example, a recent study by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation³ found that people suffering from age-related memory loss had increased activity in the brain regions controlling memory after an 8-week program consisting of just 12 minutes of Kirtan Kirya meditation each day.

With so many proven benefits, meditation is worth trying. Best of all, the technique is open to everyone, regardless of physical ability, and it requires no expensive equipment. Why not try out transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation or another style to see what method best fits your needs and personality?

Referenced Studies

¹Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(11):1218-1224 (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=410453)

²Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010;67(12):1256-1264 (http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=210951)

³Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2010;20(2):517-526 (http://iospress.metapress.com/content/348434040g6w4617/?p=777f6379efc64ccbb9e5c64f7f7a47e3&pi=0)

About the Author
This guest post was contributed by Jordan Traeger for ShortTermHealthInsurance.net where you can find out all about temporary medical insurance.

I also like active mediation, where you`re focusing on a single thing, like doing the dishes. Another friend of mine takes archery, and says she experiences it as a type of meditation, too. How do you like to meditate?

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Emmanuel Lopez August 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for this post on meditation Steph! I too am discovering benefits of more meditation in my life. I’m also researching a Vipassana meditation 10 day retreat. Totally silent. Will take a lot of courage to be off ALL technology and be silent for 10 days!

Head Health Nutter August 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

HAHA, Emmanuel, the Vipassana is the silent retreat I mentioned in the intro of this post: one friend did it a few months ago and another one is considering going herself.

Did you read the itinerary yet? It sounds extremely challenging!


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