If you experience anxiety or stress you may have been recommended to try meditation. But you may not be completely clear on why.
You might wonder how “sitting with your eyes closed and doing nothing” is meant to help you. But in truth, mindfulness meditation is much more than sitting quietly. It is the active training of the mind to increase situational and self-awareness. Meditation focuses our awareness on the present moment and helps us to accept and release thoughts without judgement. We don’t need to believe every thought that we have, and we can train our minds to be less attached and reactionary to a passing idea.
If you’ve seen an acupuncturist for anxiety or pain you’ve probably had a conversation about deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.
Here’s why: People that meditate are shown to have reduced stress hormones.
Cortisol is the stress hormone. Cortisol prompts inflammation in the body and where there in inflammation there is pain, and often anxiety.
Research suggests that mind and body practices, including meditation, reduces inflammation and helps to regulate the immune system.
People who meditate have reduced Cortisol because when they practice mindfulness their bodies experience the “relaxation response”. This relaxation response reduces the output of stress hormones and changes our brain wave patterns. In fact, it’s been found that regular meditators have a larger hypothalamus than non-meditators. Mindfulness literally changes the brain.
Does meditation help with anxiety?
Johns Hopkins University researchers found that 30 minutes of daily mindfulness meditation had similar antidepressant and anxiety reducing effects to commonly prescribed medications. Mediation is helpful for people in high pressure work roles too. Eight weeks of semi-regular mindfulness meditation was found to be effective in influencing the quality of life, job satisfaction and psychological symptoms of health care professionals.
Does meditation help with high blood pressure?
Results of a trial run in 2009 suggest that practicing meditation lowers the blood pressure of people at risk of developing high blood pressure. The findings of the same study also supported the use of meditation to manage psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger & hostility, and general coping ability.
Does meditation help with cravings?
Meditation can even help you to quit smoking and stop overeating. Results of a 2013 brain imaging study suggest that mindful attention reduces the craving to smoke, and that it reduced activity in a craving-related region of the brain.
Essentially, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Meditate at home today. Just 20 minutes daily will be enough to benefit from the practice! You could sit or lie quietly alone and focus on your breath. Or you could try one of these free meditation podcast, click here to access them.
Dr Heather Dowall
Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist
Dr Heather Dowall is a warm, intuitive and enthusiastic practitioner. Heather graduated from Endeavour College of Natural Health with a Health Science degree majoring in Acupuncture.
Heather is passionate about fertility and pregnancy support, pain relief, cancer support, and providing relief for anyone experiencing anxiety, depression, emotional trauma or PTSD.
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* Nidich SI, Rainforth MV, Haaga DAF, et al. A randomized controlled trial on effects of the transcendental meditation program on blood pressure, psychological distress, and coping in young adults. American Journal of Hypertension. 2009;22(12):1326–1331.
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* Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2014;174(3):357–368.
* Tang Y-Y, Tang R, Posner MI. Brief meditation training induces smoking reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2013;110(34):13971–13975.