The power of the mind is no longer just a myth, it’s now a proven fact that the brain responds to intentional thought patterns and benefits from guided meditation. While meditation is traditionally associated with yoga, there is no mat requirement to simply sit in silence and allow the mind to unwind. Beyond the eventual spiritual awakening, meditation has many physical, mental and emotional benefits that contribute to a less stressful, healthier lifestyle.
Here are just a few ways meditation nurtures the mind and heals the body:
Boosts immune system. Some studies show that quieting the mind through meditation increases electrical currents on the left side of your brain. It is the left side of the brain which houses the defense mechanisms that control your immune system. While meditation cannot ward off all diseases, it can certainly strengthen that part of the brain to boost immune functions and help your body fight illness.
Increases compassion. A study from Northeastern University found that people who meditate regularly are 50% more likely to assist someone in need then those who do not. Additionally, participants continued to have the desire to help a fellow man even when taking a break from their meditation habits. Therefore, the ritual of meditating not only serves as a direct line of happiness for yourself, but for those around you as well.
Builds focus and concentration. It is not an easy task to sit silently for an extended period of time, but this silent focus is the foundation of a meditation practice. Meditation is just that, a practice. Once you’ve committed to adopting meditation as a habit, start slow and gradually increase the time spent in your “zen zone.” Once the benefits of meditating begin to take effect in your daily life (usually after a few weeks of regular practice), you might notice that your ability to focus becomes easier and less forced as you have cultivated the power of mindful intention through meditation.
Lowers blood pressure. Pranayama is the practice of controlled breath work, inhaling and exhaling through the nose to isolate the movement of breath as you quiet the mind. Controlled breathing is a key component of meditation and a proven method for lowering blood pressure. Concentration on the movement of the breath slows the heart rate, allowing the nervous system and key muscle groups to go into a very relaxed state.
Promotes healthy sleep patterns. Meditation is the practice of purposefully turning off your brain, or trying to at least. Many individuals have little to no capability of quieting the mind, which can be especially irritating when trying to sleep at night. Practicing meditation on a daily basis helps you learn how to switch off the “internal computer” and keep the constant flow of thoughts at bay. In turn, meditation trains your mind and body to respond to stillness and relaxation and helps you fall asleep faster for a longer period of time.
For more ways to nurture your mind, body and spirit during Nurture Month, take a peek at the experience schedule for on-property activities such as Nurturing Breath and Meditation and Nurturing Yoga, both designed to restore and renew your mind and body by integrating the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of yoga and guided meditation.