We’ve talked before about the benefits meditation has on emotional health, but the train doesn’t just stop there. Meditating regularly has proven to have a great impact on the physical health of those who practice it. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since meditation helps lower stress levels which means it affects the release of cortisol (aka the stress hormone). It has been proven that high levels of cortisol can be related to a myriad of physical conditions from obesity to muscle tension and spasms. Cortisol isn’t always the bad guy, regular levels of cortisol are important. The problem is when stress-filled lives meet with high levels of cortisol.
The way meditation works is by allowing you to create a conscious state where you are aware of your thoughts, surroundings and sensations but you don’t let them have a particular impact on you, nor do you react to them. This way, your nervous and muscular systems relax, which then has a positive effect on the rest of your body. However, don’t confuse meditation with sleeping or daydreaming, since they’re not one and the same. During meditation you’re fully conscious and self-aware, the goal is not to fall asleep but to relax and quiet your mind.
Studies have shown that meditation can also help lower blood pressure levels. Specifically, breathing meditation, which consists of focusing on your breathing patterns. You inhale and exhale as slowly as possible focusing on where that air is going. How does it feels (feel) when your chest expands as you breathe in or contracts as you breathe out? You picture your lungs and the oxygen that reaches every part of your body through your blood. You focus on how it feels as you inhale that air through your nostrils, is it hot or chilly? Does it feel differently when you exhale it?
Remember that meditation only shows long-term effects, this a practice you should adapt to your daily lifestyle to improve your stress levels and see how your body benefits from them. Five to ten minutes daily is a good way to start. However, if you’re worried about medical conditions that need to be paid attention to right away, visit your personal doctor before it’s too late.