It often seems like there aren’t enough hours a day and not enough days a week to get things done. The forty-hour work week is a distant memory. We barely find time for all our work and assignments, let alone to relax with our family and friends. Lack of space for personal care can increase stress, and stress, if left unchecked soon enough, can turn into depression.
With so much to do and so little time, you may wonder if it is worth the effort to make room for meditation. Especially at first, when your mind tends to jump from to-do lists to to-do and back, just sitting down can feel painfully unproductive. But meditation can be a key to getting physical benefits such as heart health, low blood pressure, and a better quality of life. It may be a good time to learn a little what happens when you are meditating for a long time.
Long-term effects of meditation
Studies have shown that people who practice meditation report that they improve their sleep. It is one of the healthiest and most appreciated long-term benefits of meditation. Medical professionals are encouraging patients with insomnia and similar sleep disorders to try different techniques, especially certain forms of guided meditation, to help control their symptoms. The American Journal of Medicine once reported a study aimed at determining the effects of meditation on the insomniac. The results were incredible: all patients in the study reported an improvement in sleep quality and 91% reduced their intake of sleeping pills or stopped using them completely.
Improved memory, concentration and perception
If you are curious about what happens when you meditate for a long time, consider the scientific studies of Buddhist monks and possibly take a leaf from it. A good number of Buddhist monks and lay practitioners have perfected the art of meditation for many years. Studies on some of the monks highlight the long-term effects of meditation on the brain. They showed signs of high brain activity in the brain regions associated with relaxation, happiness, concentration, self-awareness, and other positive emotions and qualities. In contrast, the brain areas responsible for stress and anxiety were less developed.
Increased levels of happiness and compassion
Increased levels of satisfaction and compassion are among the most desirable long-term benefits of meditation. According to Rachel Parrish, an experienced meditation instructor, your ability to show true compassion is not based on your situation but on your total openness. Compassion is a remarkable trait that affects us all. Meditation will give you the tools you need to deepen and access the happiness and compassion they are waiting to discover. Seeking outside sources for comfort and well-being is a well-established habit, but if you meditate regularly, you will surely come to agree that true happiness comes from within.
A healthier immune system
Just as they soothe the mind, the long-term effects of meditation also benefit the whole body. Some studies have shown that people who practice meditation produce a higher number of antibodies more quickly than those who do not. More antibodies means you will fight disease more effectively – pathogens will be detected and eliminated much more efficiently. So meditation not only improves your mood but also strengthens your body’s disease-fighting mechanisms. A healthy body is a reflection of a calm mind.
Improves alertness and ability to concentrate
We all need to be able to focus on carrying out our different responsibilities. Any activity that is done without proper focus and attention is bound to produce poor results. It’s hard to do a good job when you’re stressed and exhausted, and even harder when you can’t focus on the task at hand. At work, factors such as stress and exhaustion can lead to a lack of discernment and mistakes. Fortunately, studies have shown that one of the long-term effects of meditation is improved concentration. Experts now recommend mindfulness meditation to help calm the mind and increase our ability to stay alert. Fortunately, many of our daily activities at home or at work are fertile ground for mindfulness. Instead of doing multiple tasks, try to choose a job or activity and apply it. With practice, this will improve your productivity and give your intelligence and creativity plenty of room to express yourself.
If you aspire to a better quality of life, meditation is the way to go. Don’t worry, your meditation practice won’t monopolize all your free time; even sitting for 5 minutes a day can improve your cognition and reduce anxiety and depression. Take advantage of the long-term benefits of meditation by starting to practice today.
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