Meditation to Balance Addictive Habits
Life coach, EFT / Tapping expert, yogi & wellness activist with a wild heart dedicated to support you in living the life of your dreams.
This meditation is one that you can practice daily:
Meditation in general, whether using this or another style can bring you many benefits such as:
Meditation may start with the breath, but the brain is probably the most significant body part to experience its potent power.
Perhaps the most immediate benefits have to do with relieving stress, which have been illustrated by at least 47 well-designed studies, according to a Johns Hopkins University review. But meditation teacher and corporate mindfulness coach Leah Santa Cruz says, “Sure, there are plenty of research studies suggesting that meditation builds grey matter and our corpus callosum, which would statistically be correlated with improved states of well-being. But I think it’s best to avoid thinking of meditation as a magical cure-all pill. It’s not that it ‘cures’ all those things, but the question is—how does stress mess up so many things?”
As soon as negative thoughts or feelings come rushing on, meditating can not only ease you into a calmer space—it can also train you in sharpening your thought processes and perceptions. People with anxiety often struggle to overcome nagging worries they can’t really control or do anything about. In other words, they give distracting thoughts “too much power” according to Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital:
But more than just a technique in the moment, regular meditation has real effects on the brain. A study out of the University of Wisconsin showed that participating in an active practice can increase electrical activity in regions of the brain’s left frontal lobe—an area associated with optimism—making it much more difficult for uncomfortable feelings like worry, fear, and loneliness to prevail. In turn, there’s more space for positive emotions like gratitude and happiness.
Cognitive performance and function
So we know that meditation has direct effects on the brain, but of course, that’s not restricted to mood. Areas associated with performance and focus can thrive on it, too.
One of the most recent findings comes from a review of 4,000 scientific papers about mindfulness, in which meditation was linked to enhanced attention span, cognition, and efficiency in the workplace. And research has shown how it can improve focus in settings outside of work, too.
Multiple studies have even suggested that meditation may give a creativity boost.
Physical and body benefits
As with the brain, the rest of the body may experience changes in physiology as a result of meditation. Prana, a Sanskrit word that translates to “life force” or “life energy,” is a common term in the realm of meditation, often referring to the action of breathing, a key component of a meditative practice. While it may have spiritual connotations, consider that the body’s cells themselves are filled with their own form of prana, or energy, and it becomes a little bit easier to draw the connection between meditation and its effects on the physical body.
Meditation has shown potential to slow the process of aging. In one study from Harvard Medical School, women who practiced loving-kindness meditation had longer telomeres—chromosomal structures that shorten as we age—than their non-meditating counterparts. (Shorter telomeres may indicate accelerated aging, and have also been linked to chronic stress. It’s possible that the stress-reducing effects of meditation play a part in anti-aging.)
Last year, researchers at UCLA found that long-term meditation practice seems to preserve the brain’s gray matter, where neurons live—a finding that could garner more exploration into how meditation may play a role in combating age-related mental illness and neurodegenerative decline.
Acclaimed author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra says:
“In the ’80s it was discovered that the immune system is highly intelligent; it became known as ‘a floating brain’ because of the ability of immune cells to participate in the chemical messages sent by the brain throughout the body. This means that your thoughts, moods, sensations, and expectations are transmitted to your immune cells. When you meditate, these messages change in important ways.”
Meditation can strengthen the immune system by boosting antibodies and potentially reducing inflammation—making you less susceptible to chronic disorders like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Some hypertension patients have also been able to regulate blood pressure through training in meditation. The “relaxation response”—a reduction in stress that can lower heart rate—that occurs through this practice can increase nitric oxide, which opens up the blood vessels.
Tension and pain relief
The relaxation response may also decrease tension and relieve pain. According to Santa Cruz, “Tension is an accumulation of stored emotions, traumas, and stress. Meditation is a stress-relieving tool to help you get rid of stress. When you go into a deep state of rest, healing begins in the body.”
Although research is limited, studies using electroencephalogram (EEG) on Buddhist monks have shown that a dedicated meditation practice may boost metabolism, potentially affecting weight loss.
In a study of 49 middle-aged and older adults who were experiencing trouble sleeping, those who were taught to practice mindfulness meditation at bedtime experienced less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than those who were simply instructed on how to improve sleep habits.
But not only can meditation help people fall asleep faster and more deeply, a certain practice called yoga nidra may even supplement rest—in this state of conscious deep sleep, 30 minutes may be equivalent to a few hours of actual shut-eye.
Better sleep also means more vitality. But meditation has also shown effects on certain hormones in the body associated with energy. Transcendental meditation in particular can naturally boost growth hormone and DHEA, two compounds that affect athletic performance.
Want to get rid of the painful and annoying symptoms of PMS? Meditation can help. Valencia Porter, M.D., M.P.H., FACN, and director of integrative medicine at the Chopra Center, says that dealing with stress is key: “Take a hot bath at night, get a massage, try yoga, and learn deep breathing or meditation. These techniques and other stress-reducing strategies can help to to soothe your hormonal fluctuations and keep your mind and body in balance overall.”
Meditation can increase compassion, empathy, and make us less judgmental—of ourselves and others.
A study out of the University of Leuven found that couples who meditated were more empathetic toward one another, making them better able to practice non-judgmental acceptance as well as communicate their feelings in a healthy way.
A previously mentioned study on mindfulness in the workplace also concluded that interpersonal behavior, teamwork, and leadership can improve by embracing this technique.
Written by: Dana Poblete, Thrive Market
Produced by: Liza Glucoft
Produced by: Grace F. Hartley
DP: Naeem Munaf
Editor: Mark Parq