While people who have been meditating for years know the many great benefits that come with a consistent and steady practice, science is just now starting to measure these effects. Meditation is a method that more and more clinicians are turning to as they search for effective, preventative, non-pharmacological options for treating mental illness.
Here are three great ways that meditation positively influences different areas of our bodies:
Meditation affects our bodies in profound ways, for example, highly experienced practitioners have shown that they can speed up or slow down their metabolism by more than 60 percent, and can raise their body temperature by as much as 8 degrees Centigrade.
Meditating for as little as 20 minutes a day can help manifest physical changes like reduced blood pressure, lowered heart rate, and improved breathing. It’s even been seen that meditation can help reduce the intensity and severity of chronic and acute pain.
The Mind, Brain, and Beyond
When it comes to the brain, meditation is quite significant in how it influences it. It increases left-sided, frontal brain activity, and immune system activity. Additionally, studies have found that long-term meditators have higher volumes of grey matter in their right orbito-frontal cortex and hippocampus regions of the brain, regions that are associated with regulating our emotions.
What’s even more interesting is that similar changes in brain activity have been found in non-meditators who finished an eight-week course on mindfulness training.
As we age, it has been found that the cortex of the brain atrophies,increasing our risk of dementia. However, it has also been found that individuals who have meditated consistently for at least an hour a day for six years exhibited an increased cortical thickness.
Meditation is believed to increase our brain’s longevity by shielding the brain, and the heart, from the negative effects of stress.