“Meditation is a vital way to purify and quiet the mind, thus rejuvenating the body.” - Deepak Chopra
Meditation is simply the act of contemplation or reflection, also known as mindfulness. And while meditation is growing in popularity in the United States, there are still some common misconceptions about it.
One is that meditation is only for certain lifestyles — like expert yogis, or Buddhist monks.
But meditation and mindfulness is for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re a college student, busy mom, or work fulltime — or all three!
Another misconception that meditation only helps with stress relief.
Think again! Meditation has been shown to help provide long-term health benefits like lowered blood pressure, pain management, and a stronger immune system.
The last rumor about meditation is that it can only be done in one way: sitting cross legged in a designated meditation space, with candles around you and soft music in the background.
But while a relaxing meditation setting is a pleasant perk, you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday tasks — like going for a walk, making tea, or even doing the dishes (no, really!)
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation can’t be understated. Making time in your day to bring mindfulness into even small tasks can help with everything from stress to pain management to organ health and more.
Discover the perks meditation provides for full-body health, and 3 easy ways you can start practicing mindfulness today!
The Full-Body Health Benefits of Meditation
Meditation does far more than give you a momentary sense of peace.
When practiced regularly, the scientifically proven benefits of meditation impact just about every part of the body, and can help improve your long-term health.
Here are just a few ways meditation helps your whole body.
1. Meditation Can Help with Pain Management
According to a study by the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), meditation can trigger parts of the brain that helps ease pain for some people.
While many similar studies had varying results on why meditation can help with pain, one thing was found to be true: in one way or another, one of the benefits of mindfulness is aiding in pain relief.
In some studies, meditation was shown to reduce pain by releasing endorphins. Endorphins attach to the opioid receptors in your brain to help boost your mood and ease pain.
Another study revealed that not only did meditation help ease pain for participants, but it helped ease the anticipatory anxiety that many people with chronic pain experience. And yet another study showed that when practiced regularly, meditation could even help you better tolerate pain by strengthening the parts of the brain that react to it.
Even if you don’t experience chronic pain, the benefits of meditating regularly and during discomfort can be worthwhile. Consider using it as a supplement to your Midol or Ibuprofen next time you’ve got sore muscles from a hard work out, menstrual cramps, or a stress headache. It just may help take the edge off!
2. Meditation Can Help You Have a Healthy Heart
Stress has more side effects than making you feel irritable, anxious, or distracted. If you suffer from consistent stress, it can cause some serious long-term health issues, particularly with your heart.
When you’re stressed, cortisol is released from your adrenal glands. Cortisol is a “stress hormone” that raises your blood pressure and heart rate. You might know this bodily response as the “fight or flight” feeling.
Regular stress and the constant activation of “fight or flight” mode does a lot of damage to your body. It can even lead to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and even kidney damage. And sadly, these are all common causes of death in the United States.
Using meditation for stress helps counteract your body’s stress response. It does this in many different ways, including:
- Allowing you to breathe deeply. Taking deep breaths lets your brain know it’s time to slow down, and your brain then sends the message to the rest of your body.
- Helping you gain new insights on stressful situations. Meditation allows you to step away from the things that stress you out and gives your mind a safe place to process them, so next time you encounter them you have better coping mechanisms.
- Helping you focus on the present. Being mindful of the moment helps you quiet any mental to-do lists that are vying for your attention.
A happy mind means a happy heart, and meditation effectively helps with both.
3. Meditation Strengthens Your Immune System
Inflammation is a major trigger for countless diseases: asthma, chronic pain, IBS...the list goes on.
Your immune system is no exception. Inflammation can make it hard for your immune system to fight off illness and disease.
But meditation has been found to positively impact our bodies down to a DNA level.
In a 2015 study at Coventry University’s Brain, Belief and Behavior Lab, doctors discovered that when a participant meditated, they experienced a reduction in the activity of genes that are linked to inflammation.
Meditation means less stress. Less stress means less inflammation, and less inflammation means a lower risk of illness and disease!
How to Incorporate Meditation into Your Day
There’s no one right way to meditate.
The power of meditation is in being mindful and present in whatever you’re doing. Whether it’s going for a scenic drive or walk, making tea, or even watering your plants.
It can also mean setting aside intentional time to close your eyes and breathe deeply throughout your day.
Here are a few other easy and effective ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day:
- Take 5-20 minutes after you wake up to simply sit and breathe.
- You can also use the few minutes you have transitioning between activities throughout your day to take a moment to breathe and be aware of your body.
- Set aside your phone or laptop, close your eyes, and simply connect with your body.
- Note how each part of your body feels, from your toes up to the crown of your head.
- Breathe through any stressful, anxious, or uncomfortable thoughts that pop up.
- If your mind starts to wander, take note of that wandering in a non-judgmental way, and bring yourself back to your breath and body.
- You’ll be surprised how much more prepared you’ll be for the next thing life tosses sat you!
Try a Meditation App
- If you’re big on scheduling, some apps like Headspace can help you schedule your meditation time.
- They can also provide a mediation guide to help keep your mind from wandering.
Connect with Your Senses
- During your next coffee break or lunch, take a moment to ground yourself and really indulge in the warmth and flavor of your drink.
- Feel the warm mug between your hands and the liquid warming your body.
- Do the same thing when you eat — set aside your phone or laptop, and turn off the TV.
- Close your eyes and focus on all the flavors of your meal, with a moment of gratitude for all the resources that went into the nourishing food on your plate.
Yep, even journaling is a great way to practice mindfulness meditation!
Journaling regularly can help you reset and remember the “big picture” in life. Journaling has quite a few meditative benefits, including:
- It helps you practice gratitude. There’s nothing like taking a moment to pause and think about all the good that happened in your day.
- It helps you make decisions. Writing out your thoughts about a decision you need to make and the possible ways to approach it can help you be more decisive.
- Stress-busting. Studies show that writing and other creative activities can put you in a “flow” state of mind. Operating in this state helps rewire your brain to better handle stress.
If you’re worried about writer’s block, it helps to get a journal that provides some prompts and guidance.
The goal of Writual’s Tarot journal is to give you a way to connect meaningfully with yourself and your goals in a meditative away, and to provide a break from all the distractions of the day.
It incorporates the power of Tarot with the benefits of mindfulness journaling to give you a clear perspective on your life now and the direction you’d like to go in.
The Writual Tarot Journal includes 12 months with space for daily entries on your Tarot readings, thoughts and dreams. There’s even a spot to keep your birth chart. No more having to google online quizzes over and over every time you forget!