Taking the time to meditate helps keep daily life in perspective.
After a long day on your feet, you don’t need to be reminded that a rest would feel good. But, it’s not as easy to recognize when your mind needs a break.
That’s where meditation comes in. Meditating is a natural way to put your mind and body at ease. The New York Times points out that it has the power to “change the brains of ordinary people and potentially improve their health.” Meditation can help us overcome the hurdles of daily life with clarity, and studies show that it can even produce physical results.
Here are some of the positive effects that meditation has on your body:
Strengthened Immune System
In our fast-paced, hyperactive world, we face so many potential causes of stress on a daily basis. Not only can these be emotionally difficult, they can have an adverse effect on our physical health.
Research suggests that what we think and feel truly impacts our immune system, which is responsible for keeping us healthy. Because our immune system carries messages throughout our body, when it’s compromised by stress, we are far more susceptible to disease and illness. Mindfulness meditation strengthens our immune system through the enhanced production of antibodies, allowing us to better defend ourselves.
Your heart responds to anxiety and stress by pumping faster so it can deliver more oxygen to your body’s organs. Meditation slows down this erratic response from the heart and successfully improves the efficiency of circulation. Good circulation helps keep your heart and other muscles, blood vessels, cells, and organs healthy and functioning properly. Increased blood circulation provides crucial, oxygen-rich blood to the extremities of the body as well, giving you an overall ability to fight bacteria and infections.
Decreased Blood Pressure
The breathing techniques practiced during meditation also boast an outstanding effect on our health. When our lungs draw in slower and deeper breaths, blood pressure is lowered, which in turn is great for our hearts.
When your circulatory system is working properly, your body can take on daily stressors much more easily. If you’re in control of your thoughts and reactions to stressful situations, you’ll be better equipped to face adversities and avoid the physical symptoms that come with anxiety.
Lower Levels of Cortisol
When you’re stressed out, your body produces something called cortisol (a.k.a the “stress hormone”). Long-term stress causes unhealthy levels of cortisol to be released into your body, which can then lead to health issues like insomnia, fatigue, muscle tension, twitching, digestive problems, and even an out-of-breath feeling.
Here’s the good news: The production of cortisol is naturally reduced during meditation, allowing you to feel more relaxed, sleep better, and remain alert and in control throughout the day.
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and breathe. You’ll quickly find that the physical benefits of meditation are very real, and may begin to change your outlook on the rest of the day. To get started, try this weekly Mindfulness Meditation class that takes place every Thursday at Independence LIVE — your body will thank you for it.
This article was originally published on Philly Voice.