There is a stigma surrounding meditation that it’s only beneficial for your mental health. But, meditation can provide numerous physical health benefits as well, outlined below.
1.) Meditation Reduces Stress
It is scientifically proven that chronic stress can increase your risk of many diseases including cancer. This is because stress prevents our bodies from quickly making infection-fighting T-cells and worsens our immune reaction to foreign invaders.
A study conducted by Harvard University on the correlation between gut health and meditation found that by inducing the “relaxation response,” which is essentially the scientific term for meditation, participants showed reduced symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as decreased anxiety and an overall better quality of life.
2.) Meditation Improves Cellular Health
The molecular signature of meditators has been proven to be significantly different from those who don’t meditate on a regular basis. A study performed at the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing compared a group of meditators to a group of non-meditators, which found that meditating can have long-term benefits including improved mental health and cellular health.
Another study showed that meditation can protect and lengthen telomeres, which are located on the ends of chromosomes. If your chromosomes are healthy, your cells are healthy as well. Cancer involves abnormal cell growth, so the healthier your cells, the healthier your body.
3.) Meditation Increases Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland , a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of it are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables.
What does natural melatonin do in the body?
Your body has its own internal clock that controls your natural cycle of sleeping and waking hours. In part, your body clock controls how much melatonin your body makes. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.
This study proved that experienced meditators produce increased levels of melatonin. The meditators were studied after participating in either Transcendental Meditation-Sidhi or yoga, which were both found to help increase melatonin.
4.) Meditation Can Improve Your Emotions
According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is defined as, “the emotional response to a terrible event.” This emotional response could be heightened stress, which could cause cancer. Radiation oncologist Dr. Carl Simonton and his wife Stephanie Matthews-Simonton, a Psychologist, wrote the book Getting Well Again: A Step-by-Step Self-Help Guide to Overcoming Cancer for Patients and Their Families. The book explores how people can affect their disease process through healing their emotions and one of the recommended ways to do so is through meditation.
Louise Hay is another well-known author who discusses the emotional causes of cancer in her book You Can Heal Your Life. A cancer survivor herself, she cured her disease in only six months using a combination of affirmations, visualization, nutritional cleansing, and psychotherapy. According to Hay, cancer is simply the manifestation of deep hurt, secrets, longstanding resentment, grief and/or hatred.
There are also different types of meditation that are specifically designed to improve your mood such as loving-kindness meditation, otherwise known as Metta meditation. You could also practice Transcendental Meditation, in which you think of a specific word or mantra.
5.) Meditation Helps You Make Healthier Choices
According to Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., Professor at Emory College, those who practice spiritual modalities including meditation are more likely to make positive and healthy choices. Idler goes on to explain that through meditation, we can decrease chronic stress and the potential for disease.
Meditation has a profound effect on many people, the benefits of which can be felt immediately. It provides many with clarity of mind and in decision making. Personally, I believe meditation has helped stabilize my mood and bring more positivity into my life. Around the same time I started meditating frequently I adopted a vegetarian diet, so it could have helped me develop healthier eating habits as well.