How Does Meditation Help Manage Illnesses?

Meditation refers to an ancient wellness practice that focuses on training awareness, compassion, and attention. It is a simple practice that everyone can participate in. Regular meditation reduces stress, increases clarity and calmness, and promotes happiness. 

While meditation is associated with mental wellness, research reveals that the practice can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and may serve as a primary, secondary, or even tertiary prevention strategy. Some use meditation as a gauge to manage chronic illnesses. 

What Are the Types of Meditation?

There’s no specific way to meditate. However, it is still vital to find a particular practice that will complement your personality and meet your needs. 

Not all meditations are fit for everyone. It requires mindsets and skills. There are about nine common kinds of meditation. This includes the following:

  • Spiritual Meditation
  • Mindfulness Meditation
  • Focused Meditation
  • Progressive Meditation
  • Spiritual Meditation
  • Movement Meditation
  • Loving-kindness meditation
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Visualization Meditation

Meditation and Your Heart

A scientific statement published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2017 revealed that meditation could play a role in reducing the risks of heart disease. In the past two decades, experts reviewed published studies and found that the mind-calming practice improves managing heart diseases. 

In 2014, a study showed that those who practiced yoga for eight weeks found a slight drop in their blood pressure compared to the ones who did not. Experts advised that meditation must be viewed as an additional boost towards better cardiovascular health. And while practicing meditation, one must also focus on proven lifestyle practices to reduce the risk of heart diseases like physical activities, a healthy diet, and managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Meditation and Chronic Pains

There are several types of chronic pain and the most common include low back pain, neck and facial pains, headache and migraine. And when your chronic pain persists after trying out conventional treatments, it may be beneficial for you to try a holistic approach for once. Also, meditation comes in different kinds, so you might as well check what suits you. 

People experiencing chronic pains often struggle with managing the pain while actively participating in their daily lives. Research in 2015 by Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., and colleagues showed that those who practiced mindfulness or meditation could reduce pain and eliminate the use of pain relievers. Meditation trains your brain to be more focused and present, so those who meditate will not anticipate pain. That calmness and awareness somehow help an individual manage the pain, and reduces anxiety and depression symptoms. 

This may not be the case for everyone though, since just like the effectiveness of meditation towards heart care, pain management through mindfulness still has to undergo further research to prove it is effective to the majority. 

Meditation and Cancer Management

Mindfulness-based activities or meditation have now become increasingly popular in different aspects when dealing with cancer management. The study, “Effects for the Role of Mindfulness in Cancer: Benefits and Techniques,” showed the most evidence of meditation’s benefit in reducing stress and toxicity. For people with cancer, meditation can help them improve their mood, concentration, reduce side effects and symptoms, like nausea, and boost the immune system. 

Meditation for Better Sleep

Almost everyone has once or twice experienced having trouble sleeping at night. It could be that your problems or errands at work are keeping you awake at night or you just can’t sleep at all. Stress results in tension and anxiety, making it hard for you to sleep. In some cases, stress can worsen existing sleeping problems. About thirty to fifty percent of adults worldwide regularly experience symptoms of insomnia. 

Since meditation promotes relaxation and mindfulness, it seems logical that it also promotes good sleep. The JAMA Internal Medicine conducted a study in 2015 involving 49 adults experiencing moderate sleep issues to prove this claim. The study randomly assigned the participants six weeks of meditation. At the end of the research, the group had fewer symptoms of insomnia and lesser daytime fatigue. 

Meditation increases melatonin, which plays a significant role in a person’s natural sleep-wake cycle; it reduces heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and activates parts of your brain that control sleep. 

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