Everyone seems to be into mindfulness, yoga, and clean eating these days, and it may not be long before we start seeing more and more people Ommm-ing away in the lotus position out in public. And all that Zen is for the common good, mind you: though most folks think that inner peace is all there is to be had from regular meditation sessions, various scientific studies have produced unanimous findings that support various physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits of meditative practices. Ancient sages and monks were spot-on when they decided to forsake the hustle and bustle of everyday life and retreat to temples and caverns to spend their earthly days in quiet pursuit of enlightenment: meditation is a powerful technique which can relieve anxiety and stress, amp up creativity and concentration, lower blood pressure, prevent emotional binges, and improve overall health in the long run.
No Stress, Just Zen
Stress and anxiety are all too real a threat to global health in the 21st century, which is a serious reason for concern having in mind the fact that these two emotions can evolve into depression, OCD, sleep problems, and a host of other psychological disorders unless identified and alleviated timely. Hail meditation, a go-to for anxiety attack prevention and stress relief! A recent Johns Hopkins research has shown that daily meditative practices can help ease anxiety, depression, insomnia and other sleep disorders, and even chronic pain. The takeaway is crystal-clear: swap pharmaceuticals for meditation and do your body, mind, and budget a huge favor.
No Nom, Just Ommm
When stress hits the fan, most people’s first reaction is to cram a fistful of crunchy snacks into their mouth and chew on their frustration in seething silence. Unfortunately, many among us also have a habit of reaching for comfort foods when simply bored, sad, or lonely, not just when stressed. Unless you watch serving sizes and snacking frequency, an occasional unhealthy treat can easily evolve into full-blown binges and sugar addiction, both of which are tough to shake and can jeopardize your health in the long run. Fortunately for emotional munchers, numerous studies have shown that regular meditation can help prevent emotional overeating and alleviate intensity of cravings, thus reducing the risk of weight gain and weight-related health issues.
Be Mindful of Your Heart
Emotional tempests followed by nom-nom sprees can have disastrous effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. Be mindful of your heart: practice transcendental meditation once a day and your blood pressure and insulin level will return to normal within a few weeks. A 2006 study has also shown that meditation has a positive effect on insulin resistance, blood pressure, and functioning of the cardiac autonomous nervous system in patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease. If you’re looking to prevent blood pressure spikes and arrhythmia, don’t take the pill: take a few minutes to meditate and tap into the mind-body equilibrium instead.
Concentration? Creativity? Check!
If you’re struggling with concentration dips and creative dead end alleys, a quick trip to the inner Zen temple can be just the thing you need to set your cognitive function back on the right track. A 2013 study carried out among undergraduates showed that mindfulness meditation can improve focus, working memory, and overall cognitive performance. In addition to its positive effects on brain function, a 2014 paper has shown that focused-attention and open-monitoring meditation can also rev up your creative engines and boost your divergent thinking abilities, which makes the daily Ommm an invaluable trump card for people in creativity-oriented lines of work.
To maximize the gains of your daily mindfulness rituals, combine meditation, yoga, clean eating, and even try Feng Shui consultations to let the light of Zen guide you on the quest to lifelong health, happiness, and peace. Meditation is not just a short-lived 21st century fad: the roots of Zen techniques trace back to ancient civilizations, and we should all take our ancestors’ cues if we want to live long enough to pass on the teachings to coming generations. Namaste.