Meditation? Why do I need a meditation practice, you ask? Is it not enough that I have to exercise, eat right and get 8 hours of sleep nightly to be considered generally healthy?
It is true, as humans, we only have 24 hours each day to do all the things we are told are good for us. Adding a meditation practice sounds like just one more thing!
But wait…. what if you were told that meditation comes with many health benefits?
The number one health benefit is the one we are all looking for. This health benefit is stress reduction! Mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In turn, this can cause the release of inflammatory chemicals that can disrupt our sleep, promote depression, anxiety and increase blood pressure. Meditation can reduce the inflammation response caused by stress. More specifically, yoga has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. Most likely, this is due to benefits from both meditative exercises and physical activity.
The current pandemic that we are living through has challenged our emotional health and well-being. Meditation can support our brains in thinking less negatively and reducing symptoms of depression, as well as help us to develop a stronger understanding of ourselves and our thoughts. This ultimately can support us growing into our best selves.
Are you concerned about the length of your attention span and age- related memory loss? Being in constant Fight or Flight can bog down our brains. One study from PubMed Centra in 2019 found that meditating for just 13 minutes daily enhanced attention and memory after 8 weeks.
The mental discipline one can develop through meditation may help to fight addictive behaviors. A meditation practice can help people redirect their attention, manage their emotions and impulses and increase understanding of the causes behind their behavior.
Insomnia anyone? Another benefit of meditation is that it can help to redirect and control the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia.
Lastly if you have high blood pressure, meditation may support lowering it by relaxing the nerve signals and blood vessel tension as reported by PubMed Central (Stephen Olex et al. Int J Cardiol, 2013).
The bottom line is meditation is something everyone can do to improve your mental, physical and emotional health. You can do it anywhere without any special equipment.
We would love to have you join us at The Hawthorn Tree for upcoming meditation classes to introduce you to a meditation practice or to help you refine your own practice.
12 Science- Based Benefits of Meditation (2020, October 27)
Michael Thorpe, MD PhD and Rachael Links, MS, RD
Betsy Collar was born in raised in Torrington, Wyoming. She earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Wyoming and her Masters of Arts from The University of Denver.
Betsy lived in Denver for almost 30 years and taught elementary school, as well as served as an instructional leader to teachers and principals. During this time, she discovered Mindfulness and Meditation.
After retiring from public education and moving back to Wyoming, Betsy has combined her teaching expertise with her love of meditation to teach meditation classes at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. In February, she will begin teaching classes at The Hawthorn Tree.