The benefits of meditation on stress levels and overall health are generally well known.
So you might be surprised to learn that taking some time out to get in the mediation zone can help in even more ways. Today we look at five things you may not know about meditation:
You might not want to skip the anti-wrinkle eye cream just yet but according to Karen Civello, founder of KalyaaNa Spa & Wellness Retreat, meditation can assist with anti-ageing.
“Ageing occurs due to the deterioration of the endocrine system. However, people who meditate regularly produce 100 per cent more dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) than people who do not meditate. DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands and is said to counteract the ageing process,” Ms Civello explains. She adds meditation can cause your adrenal glands to produce less cortisol, one of the main hormones responsible for ageing. In addition, she says a study by Elizabeth A. Hoge, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, found people who meditated daily for at least four years had longer telomeres (the protective caps at the end of chromosomes) than people who did not meditate.
“Short telomeres are believed to be markers of accelerated ageing,” Ms Civello says.
2. feel-good FACTOR
Do you feel uncharitable or aloof by the end of the year? Ms Civello says compassion meditation (where you say repetitive phrases such as “may you be well”, “may you be healthy” and “may you be at ease”, for example) can help us to think of others more compassionately.
“Meditation releases oxytocin, which is the same hormone that is released when you hug someone,” she explains. “Compassion and kindness are useful in our daily life and these feelings can help you to be compassionate towards yourself.”
3. enhances creativity
Ms Civello says regular meditation shows increased activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with creativity. “When you meditate, you become calmer and this reduces mental clutter, which can lead to enhanced creativity,” she says.
“As a result, we decrease negative emotions, which allows us to focus and foster flow. This increases our power of concentration. When we quieten the mind we can claim our authentic self and we are able to better express who we are.”
4. improves sleep
If you want a good night’s sleep, meditation could help you according to Michael Sandford, founder and meditation teacher at Meditation for Well-Being. “Research shows that as our stress levels reduce, our body produces melatonin, which helps give us a more restful sleep,” he says. “A lot of people tell me that when they meditate they sleep better and if they wake during the night they fall asleep quickly.”
5. increases immunity
If this time of year sees you picking up every bug going, why not try to boost your immune system by taking some time to meditate? Mr Sandford says there is a direct relationship between stress hormones and our immune system. “When you reduce stress levels, the body’s immune system bounces back,” he explains. “People who meditate are less sick and if they go into hospital, their hospital stays are shorter. Meditation can lower blood pressure, so it really does have a multi-facet approach to the body’s overall health.”