By Teresa Hoens
Most of us are familiar with the notion that meditation helps reduce stress by quieting the internal chatter of the brain. As if stress reduction alone wasn’t enough reason to consider taking up this ancient practice, here are three more compelling reasons.
It’s Good for Our Bodies
Scientific research shows that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies indicate that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain and support the immune system.
The mind-body connection between stress and disease is indisputable as science is finding that meditation can lower production of the stress hormone cortisol. This means people who meditate are better able to manage stress and the body’s common responses to stress, some of which include:
It’s Good for Our Relationships
Paradoxically, while meditation helps us turn inward, it also helps us detach from our own egos. This allows us to connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couple’s counselors have found that when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective and more loving.
When we become aware of our interconnection with others, we are able to shift our perspectives, see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude.
It Can Change Our Lives
In today’s world of fast fixes, crash diets and immediate gratification, it’s encouraging to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life (or at least bring about dramatic effects) with only a few minutes each day.
Meditating—even just a few minutes of deep breathing—relaxes the brain, decreases depression and reduces anxiety.
How to Start Meditating
Here are some options to help you get started in meditation:
*Find a teacher near you: Having a real, live person teaching you how to meditate is the ideal way to begin because of the motivation and encouragement they provide.
*Guided Meditations: If finding a teacher near you isn’t feasible, guided meditations can be a great way to learn as they walk you through the steps.
*Meditation Retreats: If you think you want to learn to meditate and begin a practice, going on a weekend retreat may be a great way to dive in.