Ten Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and body by focusing on breath as it flows in and out of the body. Focusing on breath, or a visual image held in the mind, helps keep the practitioner anchored in the present moment.

Learning meditation is easy. However, it takes time and patience to learn to still the mind and not allow thoughts to pull attention away. The practice is worth learning, for physical, mental and spiritual health.

Learn a simple meditation below. Then check out ten benefits of meditation.

Ten Benefits of Meditation title meme

How to Meditate

Follow these simple steps, to begin a meditation practice:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair, with both feet flat on the floor. Find a quiet place or play meditation music in the background.
  • Close your eyes and relax your body. Note whether muscles are tense, beginning at your feet and working your way up the body to the top of the head. Intentionally relax any tight or tense muscles.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, paying attention to your breath as it comes into the body and goes out.
  • When your mind wanders…and it will…gently bring attention back to your breath. You’ll learn to allow thoughts to pass on by, in your mind, without focusing on them. Come back to your breath as many times as necessary, without criticizing yourself.
  • When you feel ready, take several deep breaths and then open your eyes. Slowly move arms and legs and note how you feel.

That’s a basic meditation. After you become accustomed to meditating, you can try moving to different locations or staying in a meditative state longer.

Ten Benefits of Meditation

For many years spiritual communities recognized the benefits meditation. However, recently scientists agree that meditation does in fact contribute to greater health and wellbeing.

Here are ten benefits of meditation.

Reduces Stress

Meditation relaxes the body, creating the opposite of the “fight or flight” response we have to stress. Our breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism slows, contributing to a deeper sense of peace and relaxation.

Plus meditation helps to clear away the accumulation of information that we are exposed to daily, quieting the mind and allowing tense muscles to unknot.

Provides Emotional Balance

Meditation trains us to notice and observe our emotions, rather than attempting to change them. We learn to let emotions go…just as we do our thoughts. Any feelings or emotions that surface during meditation are acknowledged and then released.

Ten Benefits of Meditation walking
Ten Benefits of Meditation – try a walking meditation, focusing on slow steps

Increases Focus

Researchers at Harvard suggest that our minds are “lost in thought” 47% of the time. And when our thoughts are drifting, they are replaying the past or worrying about the future.

Meditation trains the mind to stay in the present moment, rather than wandering. There’s scientific evidence that meditation actually causes distinct changes in brain function, improving focus and concentration.

Eases Pain

When stressed, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol that contributes to inflammation and increases discomfort in joints and muscles.

Meditation helps the brain release natural pain relievers called endorphins. Tight, tense muscles and tendons relax, easing discomfort. With continued practice, meditation can increase pain tolerance, lower hypertension and deepen respirations. It shifts the focus away from pain, and what the mind focuses on, expands. Focus on pain and it increases. Focus on relaxing the body and breathing and muscles respond by loosening.

Ten Benefits of Meditation corner
Ten Benefits of Meditation – create a meditation corner in your garden or backyard

Soothes Anxiety

Anxiety happens when we experience too much stress. We feel always on edge, and always on alert to danger. Meditation helps us to become aware of the stressors creating anxiety and release them. We also realize that while we may not be able to change situations, we can change how we respond to them.

Meditation allows the mind to acknowledge the anxiety, without focusing on it. We note those feelings and simply allow them to exist without amplifying them with our attention.

Increases Creativity

Meditation opens the mind to new ideas and possibilities. We don’t have to try to be more creative. Creativity comes naturally as the mind and body releases stress and anxiety and regulates emotions.

And because meditation improves focus it’s easier to recognize fresh ideas and develop them. Mindful activities such as coloring or gardening provide meditative experiences that allow creativity to flourish.

Ten Benefits of Meditation gardening
Ten Benefits of Meditation – increased creativity

Reduces Depression

A regular meditation practice helps the brain better manage stress and anxiety. Both of these can trigger depression. Depression contributes to higher risks for heart disease and illnesses. It can also affect daily life and cognitive function, especially memory.

Meditation helps ease depression by altering the way we react to stressors. It trains the brains to focus and to return to that focus when negative thinking or emotions intrude.

Meditation also changes regions of the brain specifically linked to depression. The medial prefrontal cortex…or “me center”…processes information about self. This is where we dwell on the past or worry about the future. And the amygdala is the “fear center”. This is where the fight or flight response is centered. When it’s triggered, the brain releases the stress hormone cortisol.

These two regions of the brain work off of each other, to create depression. Meditation helps to break the connection between these two regions and calm the brain.

Boosts Memory

Ten minutes of meditation a day improves concentration and focus while boosting the ability to keep information active in the mind. This function is known as “working memory”.

Through meditation the brain becomes more efficient, and neural networks become more refined, requiring fewer brain resources.

Ten Benefits of Meditation trail
A quiet, solitary walk through the woods has a meditative effect on the mind and body

Increases Compassion

A recent study suggests that mindfulness meditation helps us overcome the “bystander effect”, increasing compassionate behavior. The bystander effect happens when we witness someone needing help but do nothing to provide assistance.

Two possible explanations exist for increased compassion. Meditation gives people a greater awareness of their surroundings. And it enhances the ability to see perspectives from another person’s viewpoint. It’s also possible that meditation allows us to better process our emotions, freeing up resources to feel more empathy toward others.

Improves Productivity

How does meditation improve productivity? It reduces stress, which disrupts sleep, promotes depression and anxiety, and clouds thinking. Meditation controls the stress hormone cortisol, easing the effects of stress and boosting productivity.

Meditation also enhances creativity, a characteristic that keeps us moving forward on tasks and projects.

And meditation calms the mind, redirects attention and controls impulsive emotions. This increase focus and attention which helps boost productivity as well.

Creating a Meditation Practice

I began meditating about 15 years ago, initially to quiet my racing mind and to help me confront my fears. What I discovered, through a daily meditation practice, is that I also lowered pain by relaxing tight muscles, let go of negative thoughts, opened my creativity and increased my intuitive abilities.

Although I sometimes meditated for an hour or more, ten to 15 minutes is sufficient. I encourage a daily meditation practice for the greatest benefits.

In the beginning, I found it helpful also to meditate in the same place every time. My body and mind learned that when I sat in a particular chair, relaxation followed, allowing me to quickly enter a state of deep peace.

Meditation is a loving act of kindness toward the self. It’s a time free from judgment or criticism. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor or hold your hands a certain way. Simply relax the body, close the eyes (to prevent distractions) and focus on breathing. When you feel ready to end the session, do so.

Is meditation a part of your health and wellbeing? Share your thoughts below!

Meditate in nature
Moving water creates a soothing background noise for meditation

 

Meditation Helps from Amazon

 


 

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

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Last week, I shared a post offering healthy alternatives for pain relief, rather than reaching for over the counter meds. Read 7 Natural Pain Remedies.

This week I offer, as promised, techniques for calming inflammation and soothing discomfort, with these 8 Pain Relieving Techniques. The remedies rely on alternative health practices that not only reduce pain, but boost general health as well.

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine, used for centuries for health benefits. Long thin needles inserted through the skin at specific points balance the life force, or Qi, that flows through the body.

Acupuncture reduces back pain, relieves neck tension and headaches, and soothes joint pain.

I’ve not experienced acupuncture personally, however I know many who have. They shared positive benefits, after their treatments, including pain relief.

In the Joplin area, check out Aiming’s Acupuncture & Herbs.

Massage

At one time considered a luxury experience, massage is now recognized as beneficial for a variety of health reasons. Pain and muscle tension bring many people to a qualified massage therapist, seeking relief.

Massage eases the pain of headaches, fibromyalgia, myofascial discomfort and muscle tension. It is also effective for soft tissue strains and injuries, sports injuries, temporomandibular joint pain and nerve pain. Massage lowers anxiety and stress as well.

Typically a massage lasts for 30 – 90 minutes.

In the Joplin area, check out my amazing friends Margit at Massage Therapy in Motion and Cindy at Therapeutic Massage.

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

Reflexology

This ancient healing practice is based on the principle that the feet contain reflex points that correspond to the body’s systems, organs and glands. When pressure is applied to the reflexes in the feet it relieves pain and other disorders in the affected area in the body.

Reflexology relieves pain throughout the body, and is especially beneficial for migraines, headaches, neck pain and back pain.

In the Joplin area, try out JJ Relax Station, Chinese Foot Reflexology & Table Acupressure. Or check out this Reflexology Chart and find a partner to exchange foot rubs with!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are gaining popularity for improving health and wellbeing, and for good reason. There’s an oil for everything!

Try these essential oils for pain relief of these disorders:

  • Lavender – headaches, muscle tension, inflammation
  • Marjoram – muscle spasms, headaches, toothache
  • Peppermint – muscle spasms, headaches, muscle tension
  • Rosemary – joint pain, headaches, muscle soreness, rheumatism
  • Arnica – inflammation, swelling

As a general rule, dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as coconut or argon oils. Add 15 drops of essential oil to 6 tablespoons of the carrier oil. Massage onto temples for a headache or the affected area for pain relief.

Connect with my friend Marijo for pure, high quality Young Living Essential Oils.

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

Ice/Heat

This is an old technique, however it is an effective one. I felt it must be included in the 8 Pain Relieving Techniques as I use it any time my darling left knee gets a twinge.

Icing and applying heat soothes stiff joints, relaxes muscles, eases pain and reduces inflammation and swelling.

Specifically, ice calms injuries and relieves pain, inflammation and swelling. Heat relaxes muscles, increases blood flow, and soothes pain and stiffness.

Use an ice pack or simply a bag of frozen veggies for icing. For heat use a heating pad or a damp towel heated in the microwave or oven. Wrap a dry towel around the ice source and the heating pad or damp towel, to protect skin.

Follow this routine:

  • Ice joint or affected area for 10 minutes
  • Apply heat for 15 – 30 minutes
  • 30 minute break with no ice or heat
  • Repeat process 3 times
  • Take a 2 hour break

Meditation

This mind and the body quieting technique eases stress and relaxes muscles, reducing pain caused by tension. Meditation is especially helpful for easing tense muscles in the back, neck, shoulders, scalp and face.

Reducing the inflammation response in the body is another benefit of meditation, which improves pain and calms swelling as well.

Check out my simple meditation to ease pain, relax muscles and improve overall health and wellbeing.

8 Pain Relieveing Techniques

Reiki

This healing technique taps into the body’s energy field, working at a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Reiki practitioners typically place their hands on or above the affected areas of the body that need a boost or relief from pain, offering energy to the body as needed.

Reiki encourages the body to heal itself, with practitioners serving as vessels through which the energy flows.

 Change in Diet

It is essential that I include this last suggestion. I suffered with chronic pain for more than 20 years, after a car accident. During those two decades I saw doctors, specialists, neurologists, chiropractors and pain management doctors, and I spent five years in physical therapy. I tried meds, injections and exercises, and I wore a TENS unit for a year. My condition continued to deteriorate, making walking nearly impossible. Not once did anyone suggest that I change my diet.

Margit helped, with massage and energy work on my left leg. I ultimately discovered, through Anthony William, that my sciatic nerves were severely inflamed due to the shingles virus. A virus can’t be eliminated with antibiotics, steroid injections or pain meds.

It can be starved by eliminating the foods that it feeds on and by supporting the body’s healing abilities with nutrient rich, plant based foods.

To heal chronic pain (and disorders) caused by shingles or Epstein Barr eliminate gluten, dairy products, eggs and sugar, as these foods feed inflammation and viruses.

Eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat, processed foods, canola oil and GMO foods such as corn and soy.

This blog, Journey With Healthy Me, was born from my desire to help people live healthier, more vibrant lives, free from pain and disorders. Read about the beginning of this Journey here.

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

Healing Journey

It’s amazing what that change of diet, which quickly became a lifestyle, did for my health. My chronic pain disappeared. So many other disorders cleared up. It’s an ongoing journey.

When I occasionally experience pain, from a twisted knee or tight muscles or a headache from long hours on the computer, I brew a cup of herbal tea…and try one of the 8 Pain Relieving Techniques.

Do you have natural pain relieving techniques that you use, in place of over the counter meds, pain pills or injections? I’d love to hear about them, in the comments below.

8 Pain Relieving Techniques

Check out my Amazon Storefront for healing herbal teas and Anthony William’s books.

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

Meditate for Health

Today’s Try This Tuesday post is a bit different in that it focus on an action, rather than a new recipe. I’ve been practicing and teaching meditation for years. As meditation calms and relaxes the body and stills the mind, it provides powerful healing benefits as well.

Meditation is easy, costs nothing, does not require any specialized equipment, can be practiced by anyone, anywhere and only takes a few minutes to do.

Meditate for Health

The health benefits of meditation have been documented through countless studies around the world. The amazing results include: lowers blood pressure, decreases risks of heart attacks and strokes, stimulates stem cell growth, relieves anxiety and depression, reduces stress and tension, improves memory and increases academic performance, aids weight loss, eases chronic pain, reduces hyperactivity in children, increases longevity, helps with insomnia and decreases addictions and substance abuse.

Meditation does not shut down the mind, it quiets it so that we are not so distracted by our thoughts. Our thoughts are like the words that continually scroll across the bottom of the television screen during a newscast. We can learn to let the thoughts scroll on by, without focusing on them. When we notice a thought we can simply acknowledge it and let it go without attaching to it.

Meditate for Health

I’m offering a simple healing meditation below. However, before practicing it, spend a few moments creating a Safe Place in your mind. At the beginning of every meditation, you will enter this Safe Place so create something, in your mind, that brings you joy and makes you feel peaceful. This place should be in nature, not in a building or structure. It is a soothing, solitary place. Include rich details in your Safe Place.

Mine is a garden, filled with flowers and trees. It has a water feature and a gazebo where I can sit. The sunlight filters through the leaves and there is always a cool gentle breeze. Create in your mind a space that supports you and makes you sigh with happiness when you arrive.

Read through this meditation several times, turn off the tv and quiet your phone, then lie down or sit comfortably in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Or sit in a lotus position with soles of feet together if that is not a strain on your back. Be at ease so that pain or stiffness in the legs and back is not a distraction. Rest hands naturally on the thighs, palms up. It’s fine to allow the fingers to relax and curl inward without touching thumbs and fingers together.

Meditate for Health

Healing Meditation

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through the nose and release it slowly through the mouth. Take two more slow deep breaths.

Relax the body as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply. You can relax by focusing on your breath. Or you can begin at your feet and consciously relax the muscles. Move up the legs, up the torso, and down the arms to the hands, relaxing each part of the body. Continue upward. Pay special attention to the neck, shoulders, jaws, face and scalp, as we tend to hold a lot of tension in these areas.

Visualize entering your Safe Place. Feel the warmth and love and joy here. Stay relaxed and centered.

Take another deep, cleansing breath. Imagine that roots are growing out of the soles of your feet and into the earth. This grounds the body and helps to prevent dizziness after the meditation ends. Imagine positive, living energy from the earth rising to support you.

Imagine a large white sphere of light above your head. This is Divine healing energy. See in your mind the white light surrounding you, encasing you in a bubble of protective energy. With every inhale of breath, imagine Divine healing energy entering your body. It spreads throughout your body…up into your head, down your arms to your hands and fingers, down the torso to the legs, and down the legs to the feet and toes. Your entire body is filled with Divine energy, bright healing white light. Every system, every organ, every cell in your body is infused with healing energy. Imagine any low energy or negative energy being transformed by the light.

Breathe slowly and bask in this healing energy, for as long as you want. Open your heart wide and express love and gratitude for this time of healing.

Imagine leaving your Safe Place, carrying the Divine white light with you. Count down from seven to one. As you get to one slowly open your eyes and move your fingers and toes. Stretch arms and legs. Stand slowly and stretch upwards, taking a deep breath.

This meditation can last for a few minutes or an hour…it’s up to you. If a thought pops into your head, say yes and let it go on by. Gradually your body will enter into a relaxed state quickly and easily without being distracted by thoughts.

Meditation is a wonderful practice to incorporate into your daily health routines, along with nutrient dense foods, exercise and supplements. Blessings on your healing journey!

Meditate for Health