The Very Real Medical Benefits of Practicing Meditation

Young woman meditating outdoors
Young woman meditating outdoors

Many people today are wary of all forms of alternative medicine, which is understandable. Many types of alternative medicine have absolutely no scientific evidence backing them up, and they will give people few reasons to really trust in them. There have been scandals in the world of alternative medicine as well, and some of these scandals may have made people a bit skittish with regards to trying some of the new medicinal treatments on the market today. What people should know is that there is absolutely nothing new about the art of meditation.

Medical science has repeatedly demonstrated that meditation can genuinely help people solve many of their underlying physical health problems. It is true that psychological problems are genuine health problems, given the lack of genuine separation between the mind and the body. However, people can solve many different physical problems directly thanks to the practice of meditation. There have been a number of people over the years who were suffering from severe high blood pressure who managed to turn everything around just because they managed to adopt the practice of meditation at the right time during their treatment.

People who have tried all sorts of different types of blood pressure medication in many cases were still able to achieve some rare success thanks to the practice of meditation. High blood pressure is a potentially serious condition, and the risk of developing high blood pressure will only increase as the patient in question gets older. The people with a family history of high blood pressure are going to be in a particularly bad position. People who lead very stressful lifestyles are going to face a particularly high risk of developing high blood pressure. They might want to consider the possibility of practicing meditation at one point or another.

The people who start meditation at a comparatively early age may actually be able to prevent problems with high blood pressure down the line as long as they are willing to commit to it thoroughly enough. Meditation is instrumental in taking care of the health problems that have already taken shape and the health problems that are already affecting people. Since prevention is worth even more than treatments ever can be, meditation becomes even more valuable.

Meditation Defined

meditation_sun

When many people think of meditation, they picture someone in a seated position who is making some sort of humming sound in a sustained manner. Indeed, that is how some forms of meditation will look from the outside. However, it is important to note that the majority of what meditation is will occur internally for the person who is engaged with it at the time. It makes sense that meditation is going to appear to be a fairly modest exercise from the outside. All of the interesting and groundbreaking stuff is going on inside of the heads of the practitioners, so it doesn’t translate very well to the physical or the visual world.

Meditation is all about directing one’s attention and one’s thoughts. The humming and the other vocal exercises that people will usually perform during their meditation practices will typically be devices that are used to help center the minds of the practitioners in question. The seated position that people will usually adopt during meditation allows people to focus entirely on their thoughts and their breathing, since their bodies will remain in that one relaxed position consistently.

Some of the other traits associated with meditation are going to relate to different religious or spiritual traditions. For instance, many Eastern religions or Eastern philosophies focus on the importance of being centered emotionally and mentally, the seated positions that people are supposed to adopt during meditation are supposed to encourage that particular state. Some secular people will adopt those positions anyway out of a sense of familiarity, and because the positions will work just as well one way or another.

During meditation, people will spend a lot of time focusing on their breath and their breathing patterns in general. This is also partly a matter of people trying to center themselves during the meditation process. Focusing on one’s breath direct’s one’s focus inward, which can make all the difference for the people who are used to focusing on what is going on around them at the exclusion of everything that is happening internally at each passing moment.

Many people try meditation in order to live in the moment and appreciate the present. The people who manage to accomplish that are automatically going to relieve themselves of a great deal of stress. Contemplating the future is exceedingly stressful. People will worry about what they should be doing now in order to ensure that they will experience anything resembling a favorable future.

Worrying about the past, in some ways, is even more stressful. People can’t do anything about the past. They have to live with the consequences of it every single day, and it’s something that they cannot control. Meditation pulls people out of the past, since they are going to be making an effort to avoid accessing their memories when they are engaged in meditation. Meditation pulls people out of the future that hasn’t happened yet as well, since it pulls people out of the parts of their brains that are always engaged in planning. Living in the present and being mindful of what is happening now is often the best way to truly relieve stress. The people who engage in meditation are partly learning how to truly exist in the present, and they are using a wide range of techniques in order to get to that point.

Even the people who are somewhat skeptical of the direct medical benefits of meditation will usually acknowledge that meditation can help people feel better psychologically. Many therapists will recommend meditation to their patients specifically. People with anxiety disorders in particular will usually be told that they should start practicing meditation if they’re interested in getting themselves back to a more restful state of mind. Meditation can already work wonders for the people without anxiety disorders, quieting their minds in the process. It stands to reason that it can work wonders for the people who have a particularly difficult time getting their minds to rest.

Anxiety disorders are fairly broad in terms of their implications and their exact symptoms. Post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are both anxiety disorders. Some people actually have both of them at once, and some people have one or the other. The effects of both of these anxiety disorders are very different, and yet they both belong to the same category of psychological disorders. Meditation will be able to help the people who are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it will manage to help the people who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meditation has also shown to be effective at treating depression. Depression and anxiety disorders often go hand in hand, but clinical depression and anxiety disorders are very different from a chemical perspective. It can be difficult for depressed people to motivate themselves to complete almost any task, since one of the symptoms of depression in the first place is the feeling of listlessness. While people can often feel better after aerobic exercise, even if they’re depressed, motivating oneself to complete aerobic exercise even during the throes of depression is challenging at best.

Meditation may not be easy, but it does have the advantage of being something that people can perform in a seated position while they are being quiet and motionless. Many of the people who are suffering from anxiety disorders will feel anxious under a wide variety of different circumstances, especially if they have anxiety that’s connected with their specific surroundings. People with depression will often have a difficult time motivating themselves to even get out of bed. Technically, people can meditate while they’re still in bed or before they even get out of their pajamas.

There is plenty of skill involved with meditation, but the skills that people will need are all emotional and they are all internal. Many people who have anxiety disorders and depression more or less need to learn how to modify their thought processes, whether they do it through medication or through therapy. Meditation can certainly help people modify their thought processes, which is why it has so many implications when it comes to treating the psychological conditions that have plagued society for the longest time.

A lot of the people who meditate do it for religious reasons, especially if they are affiliated with religions from the Far East. Meditation is a crucial component of many different branches of Buddhism, for one thing. Some branches of Buddhism contend that people need to be able to meditate in order to truly release themselves from suffering. The people who practice meditation for these reasons are certainly going to be able to get all of the physical and medical benefits of meditation in the process, but they will get an additional set of personal benefits as well.

However, many people today do not see meditation as a purely spiritual practice. Plenty of people who consider themselves secularists or even atheists will still practice meditation for the sake of the health and medical benefits. There is nothing inherently religious about meditation, even though it is a key component of many of the oldest and most widely-practiced faiths. People shouldn’t be scared away from meditation because they’re under the impression that they are going to have to convert to any faith in order to practice it for themselves.

Naturally, many of the people who do practice meditation tow the line between viewing it as a purely spiritual practice and viewing it in a more secular light. Some people consider themselves spiritual but not especially religious, and they may specifically try to awaken their spiritual sides as a result of their meditative practices. Meditation can create very powerful emotional experiences, so it is not surprising that many people can view meditation as spiritual in its own right, regardless of whether or not it is directly connected to any sort of established, organized religion.

Many people all around the world today are more or less pursuing their own, private brands of spirituality. While lots of people still belong to more organized faiths, it has become more socially acceptable to pursue one’s own unique path to a greater extent. Many spiritual people are trying to find activities or experiences that make them feel connected to forces that are larger than themselves. For these people, trying meditation is often the first step forward on their own unique personal journeys.

Meditation certainly provides a very unique emotional experience. Being able to separate oneself from the chaos of one’s normal thoughts can make all the difference in terms of one’s ability to perceive other things. Many people will believe that they are literally experiencing something on a higher plane of reality as a result. Other people may believe that they are becoming connected with a spirit world of some sort. Some individuals will turn their spiritual focus inward somewhat, believing that they are connecting with their own souls to a much greater extent than they otherwise would.

One way or another, the emotional contexts that meditation creates can be so powerful that they will literally feel ‘out of this world’ to many people. Some people will interpret this set of emotions in a more religious context, and other people are going to frame it in more secular terms. A given meditation session is going to ultimately reflect the person who is actually doing the meditating. People from all over the spectrum in terms of religiosity will all be able to benefit from meditation, so meditation will take on multiple forms.