More and more doctors are recommending meditation as an effective stress buster and useful support for patients with many types of chronic and acute conditions. The effectiveness of meditation comes from the fact that you can achieve a state of deep relaxation in just a few minutes.
Researchers have shown that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones.In particular, while meditating, your cortisol level drops and stays low for hours afterward. This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the relaxed state that comes about through meditation.
An interesting side note: A high level of cortisol makes your body store extra fat in your abdomen and makes you crave fattening foods with extra intensity. When you meditate, you allow mental activity to slow down in a natural way while your alertness is maintained and indeed enhanced.
Meditation helps you to feel less anxious about issues that previously caused you stress, and many benefits arise out of a calm state of mind.
A large body of research has demonstrated that meditation produces comprehensive improvements in mental health, enhancing positive features and reducing various forms of psychological distress. A systematic review of 144 studies found that meditation was markedly more effective in reducing anxiety than other techniques (Journal of Clinical Psychology) Meditation has also consistently been found to reduce depression, hostility, and emotional instability, indicating the growth of a more stable, balanced, and resilient personality. In another statistical review of 42 independent research results, meditation was found to be effective in increasing self-actualization-an overall measure of positive mental health and personal development. An exhaustive survey conducted by the Swedish National Health Board found evidence that psychiatric hospital admissions may be much less common among people practising meditation than in the general population. These results have been demonstrated in many rigorous scientific studies, a few of which are mentioned below. A 1998 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that people who practiced meditation had lower levels of lipid peroxide than those who didn't.
An article published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke in 2000 demonstrated the effects of teaching meditation to people suffering from atherosclerosis . In 2004, the American Journal of Hypertension featured the results of a study showing significant lowering of blood pressure in a group of meditators compared to a control group who didn't meditate.

Meditation can ease physical complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), tension headaches and other common health problems affecting women.
Meditation can also improve irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, high blood pressure and insomnia, among other stress-related conditions, says Dr. In 2003, a University of Wisconsin-Madison research team found that a short program in meditation produced lasting positive changes in both the brain and the function of the immune system. People who underwent eight weeks of meditation training produced more antibodies to a flu vaccine and showed signs of increased activity in areas of the brain related to positive emotion than individuals who did not meditate. Recent research by Dr Gregg Jacobs at Harvard Medical School on the effects of meditation-based relaxation techniques has demonstrated the link between meditation and brain wave activity.
These findings suggest that insomniacs will find it easier to get to sleep if they practice meditation at bedtime or after awakening during the night. One reason is that you may simply have been unaware of the improvements in health that meditation brings. Another reason may be that meditation often conjures up an image of a bearded guru sitting cross-legged at the entrance to a cave or at the top of a mountain. It is one of the better studied alternative therapies and has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits. When you settle down into a state of deep relaxation, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. Like many people who meditate, you may find that you have greater self-esteem, self-confidence and inner peace.
You become a better listener and exhibit greater empathy, which in turn leads to closer and more fulfilling relationships. Lipid peroxide can contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and other chronic diseases associated with aging. Over a period of time, the meditators showed a marked decrease in the thickness of their artery walls. The study also reported a 23% reduction in usage of antihypertensive drugs between the group of meditators and the othergroup.

Your body's response to high stress levels can worsen symptoms of PMS because stress can cause the muscle tension associated with PMS complaints such as fatigue, soreness and aching. It's not surprising, therefore, that practicing meditation, with its effects of quieting your mind and relaxing your body, has been found to be an effective treatment for insomnia. Hopefully, after reading this page, you can now see the many physical and psychological benefits that regular meditation will give you. But meditation is fast becoming mainstream, and people from all walks of life practice it - businessmen and women, housewives, lawyers, doctors, students, teachers and so on. Using older techniques , it can take you many months or years of practice to control your mind and attain states of meditation. Calmness brings with it the capacity for more accurate judgement and enhances problem-solving skills. A 1999 study published in the same journal showed that people who practiced meditation had lower blood pressure immediately after meditating than did the control group.
The improvement could potentially bring about an 11 percent decrease in the risk of heart attack and an 8 percent to 15 percent decrease in the risk of stroke. Several studies have shown that regular meditation results in higher blood levels of melatonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in the regulation of sleep. Greggs has said that "75% of long-term insomniacs who have been trained in relaxation and meditation can fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. Also, modern technology has given us easier ways of both monitoring and performing meditation.
Being calm results in having greater patience and tolerance and gives you the composure to act in considered and constructive ways. It is present in your blood in small amounts all the time, but when you experience stress, your body produces much more of it.

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