7 Renewing Benefits of Meditating 7 Minutes a Day
BY STEVE NUBIE
January is a time for resolutions and meditating can make every resolution easier.
Meditation practices have been around for thousands of years. Prayer in many respects is a form of meditation and other practices have been developed to allow our minds and our bodies to renew themselves with this simple practice.
We’re going to cover the essential benefits of meditation and various ways that you can easily get into a highly meditative state. What’s significant is that clinical studies have shown that meditating as little as seven minutes a day has remarkable benefits both physiologically and psychologically. Here are some of the highlights:
- Meditation reduces blood pressure. In fact, in a study done by The American Journal on Hypertension mediation was actually more effective in reducing high-blood pressure than many prescription medications.
- Medication has been shown to help people cope with addiction to both alcohol and drugs.
- Meditation has been shown to reduce depression and once again has been shown to help people cope better with depression than many prescribed medications commonly used to manage depression according to The American Medical Association.
- Meditation boosts the immune system. This is significant for people managing chronic illnesses or for those who simply want to stay healthy for the long-term.
- Meditation has been shown to help people with chronic anxiety disorders. It’s an excellent way to manage stress whether it’s simply work related or deeply motivated by the loss of a loved one.
- Meditation helps relieve sleep-deprivation. It’s an unfortunate fact, but many of us don’t sleep well or simply don’t have the time to get a restful 8-hours of sleep. This isn’t about sleep replacement, but a deep sleep has many of the benefits of meditation and giving yourself a well-deserved meditative-break can make a big difference.
- Meditation makes us smarter. It has been shown in clinical studies to enhance our cognitive abilities, memory and focus.
Those seven benefits are actually the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of meditation. Various other studies have linked meditation to a reduced risk of heart-attack and stroke to the treatment of epilepsy and cancer. The question is, what are we waiting for?
There are formalized techniques for meditation including TM or Transcendental Meditation and the Silva Method. The fact of the matter is that a basic approach to relaxation and deep breathing will provide the same result. Here are the steps to achieving a relaxed, meditative state:
- Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably. If there is a lot of ambient noise you can always wear headphones and listen to relaxing music or soundtracks of waves on the beach or rain in a forest.
- Relax your body. This begins with relaxing the muscles in your face and neck. We don’t realize how often our facial expressions cause tension. Once your facial muscles are relaxed begin to relax the rest of your body starting with your shoulders, down your arms to your chest, stomach legs and feet. Most people close their eyes while meditating.
- Imagine a place where you feel totally relaxed and at ease. It could be a hammock in the woods, your favorite chair, or a bed you slept in as a child.
- Practice deep breathing. This typically involves inhaling for four seconds and fully exhaling for seven seconds. If you have trouble with that count you can shorten it to whatever works for you. Deep breathing in and of itself has benefits.
- Clear your mind. Try to be in the moment and think of nothing. Images may come into your mind and gently push them aside. You’re trying to reach something called an “Alpha” state which is a different level of brain activity. Consciously thinking about or visualizing certain things will move you into something called the “Beta” state which will break your meditation cycle.
- It’s possible that you may fall asleep during your meditation and that’s okay. However, the goal of meditation is to be awake and totally relaxed.
- If you want to know if you’ve meditated for seven minutes you can always set an egg timer or the alarm on your wireless phone. Try to choose something that presents a relaxing tone or sound. It’s important that you slowly come out of your meditation.
- After meditating you’ll enjoy a bit of a stretch to come out of your meditation. You’ll probably feel better than you did before your meditated.
The goal is to try and meditate at least once a day, every day for at least seven minutes. That’s the amount of time that’s been verified as the minimum by clinical studies for meditation benefits. Over time you’ll start to notice more and more of the benefits and will hopefully make meditation a regular part of your daily routine.