How does meditation affect your body?
Much has been said about the benefits meditation offers to our minds. After all, it has been used for centuries to bring balance and stability to emotional and spiritual life. But, once the effects start spilling over to your bodily sanctuary, another curious transformation takes place. Scientific studies have confirmed what many practitioners have suspected: meditation does indeed affect our bodies as well.
The brains behind
First things first —meditative shifting starts in the brain. This soothing practice induces more activity in parts of the brain responsible for regulating anxiety and depression, as well as pain tolerance. Meditation gets the brain more in tune with what is called the Default Mode Network, a neurological framework oriented towards self-awareness, goal-setting and better memory. Studies have also found evidence that people who commit to a lifestyle of mediation display more empathy towards others as well.
But the fact that meditation can help to alleviate tension, anger, and stress is old news. What is perhaps more striking is the fact that mediation physically changes the shape and size of our brain after only 8 weeks, making our gray matter denser in areas that handle learning and memory. This is an indication of more profound changes in the realm of the corporal. Namely, if we monitor the brain map further, we start seeing something happening in the areas controlling blood pressure.
Here, we find the key to understanding the physical outcomes of meditative practice. Meditation decreases blood pressure, helping people steer away from life-threatening complications. Furthermore, it boosts the variability of heart rate, meaning that the oxygen and carbon dioxide are better transported throughout the body.
Still waters run deep
Descending even deeper, we reach the cellular level. Chromosomes dwell here, wielding their protective protein complexes that have the purpose of mitigating damage to DNA and hindering cell death. Meditation empowers these cells to fight cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes more vigorously. It is suspected that the awakening of this amazing bodily capacity is also a product of reduced stress levels, and enzyme processes that follow it. All this affects the body at a fundamental level, adding to the long list of physical health benefits of meditation (like this recent study in which meditators were able to produce a larger number of antibodies for combating flu, compared to non-meditators). So, why don’t more people mediate?
The problem is with our education, but also the inability to unplug from the mountains of daily stress, tedious cycles of obligations, and audio and visual stimuli that bombard us. It is a good idea to tone down on Internet surfing, TV watching and other time-wasters. They are only holding you back and the trick is to develop a personal approach to meditation.
If you feel you are unable to enter a meditative state without the aid of a helpful substance, you might wish to turn to marijuana. The community has been racked by those who violently oppose, and full-heartedly approve this practice, yet science has yet to catch up with the debate. What we can tell you is that cannabis can allow the smoker to think more clearly, or at least imagine he is doing so. You may experience deeper and more profound thoughts after a puff of smoke, but can never be sure if it is your imagination, your brain, or your lungs which are causing them. It is true that the prevailing wisdom does not see substance usage in a positive light, but some people can better tune into the ethereal by smoking cannabis. The choice is ultimately up to you alone – make sure you know what you are getting yourself into, before you decide to explore the depths of your smoke-filled mind.
In any regard, you should bear in mind that meditation is neither a silver bullet for health issues, nor a substitute for medical treatment and advice. But, it could prove to be the driving force behind making a positive change in life and building good habits. It will allow you to reconnect with your inner self, come to know your limits and move past them. Overwhelming beliefs, ideas, phobias, predicaments are no match for a pristine inner vision, which moves by the power of meditative providence.
Rise and shine
Mediation is an incredible way to overcome limitations and break the shackles preventing you from thriving and growing personally. It works your brain, and as we have seen, its blessings also flow through our body. Although it has not been conclusively shown to cure cancer or heart disease, it can drastically bring the risk level down. Above all else, you have a chance to shape your new way of life around meditation, so let no inner or outer force stand in your way of greatness.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Meditation Magazine.