Meditation may help reduce some risk factors for heart disease, according to a new statement from the American Heart Association. Meditation has been linked to improved quality of sleep and overall well-being. It may also help lower blood pressure and help people quit smoking.
Many studies have been conducted to look at how meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, certain psychological disorders, insomnia, and pain. A number of studies also have helped researchers learn how meditation might work and how it affects the brain.
Any condition that’s caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation, says cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, well known for three decades of research into the health effects of meditation.
“The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves,” Benson says. Tension and tightness seep from muscles as the body receives a quiet message to relax.
Because practicing meditation helps you to slow your breath, quiet your mind, and find peace, it can be beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Reduces anxiety and depression by enabling your body to balance its own nervous system.
- Allows you to make better decisions and improve critical thinking.
- Breaks unhealthy habits by helping you detach emotions associated with an action from the action itself.
- Improves communication with yourself. When you better understand your thought processes, you have more control over what you think.
- Helps you stay in the present moment. When you let go of the past and the future, you live 100 percent in the now, which affects all aspects of your life and relationships.