The Health Benefits of Meditation

January 1, 2013, 5:30 pmPrevention

Improved focus and reduced stress are only a few of the health benefits of meditation. Here are four more.

The Health Benefits of Meditation
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Meditation is a major player in the healthcare revolution for several reasons, but here’s a simple one: for a discipline that requires only a chair or patch of floor, it produces outstanding results.

Meditation helps with chronic pain

New research shows that mindfulness meditation could help the one in five Australians who suffers from chronic pain, not to mention the countless others who live with irritable-bowel syndrome (IBS). These fresh findings are timely, as traditional treatments bring few lasting results.

Mindfulness meditation reduces IBS symptoms

In a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, mindfulness meditation reduced the severity of subjects’ IBS symptoms by an impressive 26%. The way it works is simple: “You focus on being in the present, not on your worries,” says study leader Susan A Gaylord, PhD, director of the Mindfulness-Based Stress and Pain Management Program at the University of North Carolina in the US.

Meditation acts as a natural pain reliever

In another recent US study from Wake Forest School of Medicine, researchers found that meditation had an equally dramatic impact on pain. Compared with morphine and other pharmaceutical painkillers (which reduce pain by about 25%), mindfulness meditation decreased the intensity of study participants’ pain by 40%—and in some people, by up to 70%. “The dramatic results surprised me,” says study leader Fadel Zeidan, PhD.

Meditation puts you in a positive emotional state

According to a US study from the University of Wisconsin, ‘mindfulness meditation’ increases activity on the left side of the brain’s frontal lobe; in other words, it helps you become more emotionally centred.


How to meditate

Focusing on your breath for just five minutes can help boost mental clarity and lower stress levels. To get into the habit, try it first thing in the morning or just before you go to bed. To use mindfulness meditation to ease pain, Zeidan recommends devoting 20 to 30 minutes a day to this peaceful practice. To learn the technique, find a hospital or medical centre that runs classes, or read 5-Minute Mindfulness ($19.99; Adams Media) by David B Dillard-Wright, Heidi E Spear and Paula Munier.


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2 Comments

  1. Michael01:56pm Friday 04th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Fortunate are we, who live in a society that upholds the right of everyone to have an opinion, no matter how bereft of any knowledge of the subject in question at all. True there are many ways, but only correct methods bring desired results.

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  2. Glib12:01pm Friday 04th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    You can "meditate" in many ways. You do not have to sit cross-legged in front of a candle, or follow any nonsensical spiritual mystical mumbo-jumbo. You do not have to do a course. All meditation teachers are charlatans. Jogging, swimming laps, fishing, snorkelling, bushwalking, cycling, kayaking, reeading, listening to music, can all be forms of meditation. Just sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and your own thoughts is meditation. It's not rocket science.

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