Can meditation actually be beneficial to your health?

People try all sorts of things to improve their health. While eating better and exercising more are widely regarded as the best way to help your wellbeing, they’re far from the only options out there. One thing that’s grown in popularity recently is meditation, with numerous people praising the activity for its healing benefits. However, is this practice really as good for you as they say, or is it all just a pack of lies?

Photo: BURST

The art of meditation

Most people have a good idea of what meditation looks like, whether they’ve done it before or not. The image of a person sitting with their legs crossed and chanting “om” is a familiar one, but there’s more to this activity than meets the eyes.

While it’s assumed that meditation is all about clearing your mind of thoughts, Dr. Judson Brewer argues that it’s actually something very different. After all, it’s impossible to completely silence the things running around in your head. Instead, this practice is all about adapting the relationship you have with your thoughts to reduce stress and improve your health.

The forms of meditation

Meditation comes in many forms, although there are three that are largely recognized by those who participate in this activity. These are pointed meditation, open focus meditation, and cultivation meditation. While the first is all about focusing your mind on one thing, such as your breathing, the second is based on the thoughts in your head. People who do this kind of meditation are expected to recognize the things going through their mind but not pass judgment on any of them.

The final form of meditation is a little trickier than the others. This is where you have to harness your energy to develop certain habits or qualities in your mind – loving-kindness, for instance. The aim is to adapt your way of thinking so you can lead a much more fulfilled life, but it requires some training.

Photo: BURST

The benefits of meditation

Most people who take up meditation do so because they want to improve their thought processes and relax more. Unsurprisingly, this practice has been found to help improve concentration and awareness in people, even when it’s only done a little every day. Naturally, being more attentive and focused does excellent things for your everyday life, especially if you work in a job where you need to always be on the ball.

Moreover, meditation has been found to help people suffering from things like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), chronic pain, and other disorders. That’s because the mindful practice apparently influences the parts of the brain that deal with pain regulation. The more relaxed you get through meditation, the less stressed you are, meaning the pain receptors don’t get triggered so much. So, not only does the activity improve your mental health, it improves your physical health too.

Although meditation isn’t completely effective for everyone, the benefits are clear to see. Even if the activity doesn’t improve your health a hundred percent, it should still have a positive impact on your life. Surely that means it’s worth giving a try, right?