Meditation used to be thought as one of those hippy dippy activities but not anymore! Did you know that more than 30 million Americans have tried meditation or practice it regularly?!? (And everyone’s trying it - celebrities, athletes, even the U.S. Marines!) Since 2012, the number of people practicing meditation has tripled and with so many reported benefits, it’s really no surprise.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Originally practiced to help deepen understanding of the mystical forces of life, today it is most commonly used to reduce stress and relax.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. During meditation, you focus your attention and breathing and try to eliminate the cluttered thoughts crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both our emotional well-being as well as our overall health.
But why does it work?
But why does it work?
Time for a mini biology lesson! The autonomic nervous system regulates our body’s unconscious and involuntary actions and is made up of two systems – the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which controls how we react to danger and is responsible for mobilizing our “fight or flight” response and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which is responsible for homeostasis and controlling the body’s “rest and digest” functions.
With sympathetic nervous responses, the body speeds up, tenses up and becomes more alert. Functions that are not essential for survival are shut down. The parasympathetic nervous system counterbalances the sympathetic nervous system once the perceived danger is gone, restoring the body to a state of calm.
Meditation is a tool that lets you use that calming force at will. By concentrating on breathing, we are able to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which we now know has a calming effect on the body.
There are lots of different thoughts out there about the benefits of meditation, but there are some that are consistently touted. The most common being that meditation is a stress reliever – and who couldn’t use more of that these days?
Other bennies of meditation include:
- Increases focus and memory, helps improve attention span
- Increases energy
- Improves sleep
- Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate
- Reduces pain and inflammation
- Enhances our immune system, making us more resistant to viruses and infection
- Can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and anger
- Improves relationships
So many of these benefits have a direct impact on how your skin looks too! Back up your meditation efforts with a good dose of antioxidants and some other skin loving nutrients.
Cheers to chilling out!