The Effects Of Meditation On Health

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The Effects of Meditation on Health

The Effects of Meditation on Health

Overview of Negative Physical Effects of Psychological Stress

Stress has both positive and negative ramifications. When we come through in a pinch, put together that great presentation for work at the last minute, or increase our study time in response to an upcoming test at school, stress is the driving force behind our improvement. If it wasn't for stress, we might not accomplish anything. (Durgananda 2010 ) When stress becomes chronic, lasting for long periods of time without any moments of rest or relaxation, serious physical or psychological problems can result. Some of these include:

Research suggests a link between high sensitivity to stress and the onset of serious anxiety and depression. Chronic stress can seriously diminish our ability to enjoy life, accomplish our goals, and maintain healthy relationships, all of which can affect our emotional well-being. (Kabat-Zinn 2011)

A link has been shown between acute stress, heart disease, and stroke. The physiological stress response has serious affects on the heart and circulatory system, increasing heart rate and restricting the arteries. (Creamer 2011) Over time, this action can lead to serious physical side effects including cardiac events such as heart attacks.

Meditation & Its Benefits

A simple technique practiced for as few as 10 minutes per day can help you control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.

The meditative technique called the "relaxation response" was pioneered in the U.S. by Harvard physician Herbert Benson in the 1970s. The technique has gained acceptance by physicians and therapists worldwide as a valuable adjunct to therapy for symptom relief in conditions ranging from cancer to AIDS.

When our bodies are exposed to a sudden stress or threat, we respond with a characteristic "fight or flight" response. This is sometimes called an "adrenaline rush" because the hormones epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine are released from the adrenal glands, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate, faster breathing, and increased blood flow to the muscles. (Reibel 2011)

The relaxation response is a technique designed to elicit the opposite bodily reaction from the "fight or flight" response -- a state of deep relaxation in which our breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure, and metabolism are decreased. Training our bodies on a daily basis to achieve this state of relaxation can lead to enhanced mood, lower blood pressure, and reduction of lifestyle stress.

The relaxation response technique consists of the silent repetition of a word, sound, or phrase while sitting quietly with eyes closed for 10 to 20 minutes. This should be done in a quiet place free of distractions. Sitting is preferred to lying down in order to avoid falling asleep. Relax your muscles starting with the feet and progressing up to your face. Breathe though your nose in a free and natural way. (Durgananda 2010 )

Meditation can provide you with a feeling of quiet, peace and balance that rewards both your emotional well-being and your overall fitness. And the benefits don't stop once your ...
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