We know that there are various ways and methods of meditating, each using a different focus point. All these methods have one thing in common: the practice of meditation is an internal experience and an inward journey into our own body and mind.
While making this journey, it is necessary to know how one will benefit from the process and how the internal mind and body are affected by it. This article aims to provide precisely that knowledge; of how meditation benefits the body physically.
Meditation naturally lowers stress levels
Stress is a natural, chemical response of the body to unforeseen and problematic situations. During this response, there are an automatic rise in cortisol (the natural stress hormone of the body) levels of the body and activation of the Autonomic Nervous System, which takes over during the ‘fight or flight response.’
The normal, controlled release and action of cortisol and the Autonomic Nervous System are beneficial. Still, prolonged and extensive exposure causes adverse effects (which you can read more about in our article, ‘Stress, its Effects, and Management’).
Research done on the brains of regular meditators has shown a consistently lower cortisol level than that of non-meditators. Even in stressful situations, the rise in the cortisol levels is negligible, and this accounts for their level-headed and calm response to such instances and their general resilient nature.
Meditation combats pain
Studies done in the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) show that meditation lowers the body’s pain response even in the absence of the brain’s natural pain-fighting chemicals (opiates).
The recommended treatment method has been changed to a combination of regular meditation and medication to control pain in diseases like osteoarthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain-causing diseases.
Meditation helps combat diseases
The NCCIH has also done studies to see the impact of meditation on various diseases like psoriasis, stress-related disorders in adults and adolescents, anxiety, depression, hypertension, migraines, etc.
The research consensus was that regular practice of meditation showed a significant improvement in the states of all these diseases and increased the overall well-being of people.
Moreover, meditation proved to be as effective as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication in fighting depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
Meditation is vital for physical fitness
We believe that physical fitness is just the optimum functioning of the body. However, scientifically fitness is defined as the optimum functioning of the body and mind.
Hence, scientists recommend a holistic approach of workouts, nutritious food, yoga, and meditation to reach the right fitness level. Moreover, being physically strong makes no difference when harboring negative thoughts and stress in one’s mind.
This is where meditation plays a crucial role in stabilizing the mind by clearing it of all negativity and keeping a steady supply of motivation to continue working on our body and mind to attain actual physical fitness.
Meditation improves immunity
Studies on meditation show that regular meditators show an increase in the number of lymphocytes, which is a particular type of White Blood Cell found in the lymphatic system.
White Blood Cells are of many kinds, and their principal function is to act in the body’s immune response, that is, to naturally fight off any infections and diseases. Hence, all white blood cells, including lymphocytes, act as the defense mechanism of the body.
Knowing this, we can see that meditation directly and significantly impacts the body’s ability to fight off painful diseases and infections.
Meditation increases the extent of our pain threshold
The University of Montreal did a study with thirteen Zen Buddhist masters, who were regular meditators, and thirteen non-meditators. Both these groups were subjected to extreme heat for equal amounts of time.
However, when they were asked to report their pain sensation, the results showed a drastic and significant difference between the groups.
The Zen Buddhist masters showed a much higher ability to face the pain and were less affected by it than the non-meditators. From this, they concluded that regular meditation could help us decrease our sensitivity towards pain.
Other vital physical benefits of meditation
- It regulates hormone levels in the body and decreases inflammation of the cells.
- It affects fertility; women who meditate regularly tend to be more fertile and deliver healthier babies than women who do not meditate.
- It regulates the functioning of Sympathetic and Autonomic Nervous Systems and, thus, reduces anxiety and panic attacks.
- It plays a crucial role in blood circulation, stabilizes blood pressure and heartbeat.
- It improves metabolism and other critical biological processes.
- It brings about a positive change in our lifestyle, which further enhances sleep quality, reduces bouts of fatigue, and even reinforces weight loss.
Therefore, we can see that meditation has a host of benefits that are restricted to the mind & mood, and every aspect of the human body.
Something as simple as a few minutes of awareness can bring about an abundance of positive changes in our bodies. Knowing these benefits makes it easier to find the will and motivation to start & persist at forming this new habit of meditation.