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Health Benefits of Meditation

For thousands of years, monks and mystics have been meditating to enhance their connection to the divine. Now, modern medical science has uncovered the facts behind the many great health benefits of meditation that can be enjoyed by practitioners at any level of skill, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. Much of the popularity of meditation in America today can be traced to the rise of Transcendental Meditation, a form introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. Transcendental Meditation is derived from traditional Hindu practices but requires no specific beliefs. This is only a brief introduction to the many amazing benefits of meditation.

Physical Benefits of Meditation

Meditation reduces stress and strain in the muscles, allowing them to relax and rejuvenate. This alone can contribute to lowered blood pressure and an easing of aches and pains caused by unnecessary tension. Meditation has proven benefits for those who suffer from insomnia, including the very common sleep maintenance insomnia – that is, difficulty remaining asleep after falling asleep successfully. Even in those who do not suffer insomnia, meditation can encourage fuller, more restful sleep. Meditation encourages a habit of proper, complete breathing that fills the lungs fully. This delivers more oxygen to the bloodstream, encouraging higher energy levels and greater alertness. Meditation is often practiced in yoga-like poses that increase flexibility and help practitioners to become more mobile and limber.

Mental Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a great self-treatment for controlling mild to moderate anxiety, such as the anxiety suffered by some in social situations or before speaking in front of a crowd. It increases concentration and teaches the user to focus on thoughts or images without succumbing to small distractions. Thanks to the physiological changes that take place during meditation, which resemble a light sleep, those who meditate on a regular basis often report lasting feelings of peace, calm, and relaxation. Some of those who practice meditation regularly endorse “guided meditation” or “guided visualization”, a meditative practice where one visualizes an upcoming task, event, or performance to prepare the mind to succeed. Many “self-help” systems, including those used by athletes and entertainers, are built upon meditation in some form.

Celebrity Proponents of Meditation

Over time, many celebrities have practiced meditation. Surviving members of The Beatles promote its benefits and have even been involved in benefit concerts aimed at promoting meditation. Steven Seagall, Richard Gere, Tina Turner, and even Tiger Woods practice meditation in the context of their Buddhist beliefs. Madonna meditates as part of Kabbalah, a mystical Jewish belief system. Jessica Alba once compared giving birth to meditation! Many other famous people are known to meditate, and it is not hard to imagine that many others meditate privately. As more celebrities discover the benefits of meditation, people around the United States and the world are learning to get in tune with their bodies and minds using this ancient art. There are estimated to be between one and three million Buddhists in the United States who practice meditation, and millions of others around the country who have experience with meditation for yoga, self-improvement, or other purposes. Celebrity or not, meditation has real benefits – as the most famous proponent of meditation, the Dalai Lamai, clearly knows.

For more about meditation, check out these links:

Meditation for Pain Management: Information on benefits and various kinds of meditation techniques. From Arthritis Today, the publication of the Arthritis Foundation.

About Meditation and Stress Reduction: Information about meditation for stress reduction in health care settings. From the Health Center at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Meditation Changes Minds, Increases Attention: From the University of Wisconsin at Madison, information on a study using brain scans to get more information on the effect of meditation on brain wave patterns and concentration.

Meditation Research: Resource website collecting scholarly research pertaining to the use of meditation in treating conditions such as asthma, anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and more. Also includes some free audio for use in guided meditation.

Meditation and Health: Article offering a succinct overview of potential health benefits, plus references and sources to learn more. Authored from a Christian perspective, also including Biblical quotations relevant to the spiritual practice of meditation.

The Benefits of Meditation: An overview of benefits from Meditation Workshop, a free website with further information on meditation, techniques, question-and-answer, and other content. Offers a good selection of free meditation exercises.

The Transcendental Meditation Programme: Official website for Transcendental Meditation, which helped bring American attention to the benefits and potential of meditation. Includes information on benefits and techniques.

David Lynch Foundation: Official website of a nonprofit organization that promotes learning and using meditation to improve health and life. Includes information on the use of meditation to combat classroom stress and much more; information is also available about the April, 2009 benefit concert featuring Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney aimed at promoting meditation for at-risk youths.

Meditating Stars: High-quality ABC slide show discussing the meditative practices of thirteen contemporary celebrities, focusing on personalities who were involved with the “Changes Begin Within” benefit concert.

Further Reading

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