7 Health Benefits of Relaxation & Meditation

I know I mix relaxation and meditation almost into one here, but hear me out. While they are two separate things, I think they both have important qualities that can have very similar effects. Both require us to pause, breathe, tune in, and soften – and when we do that, we switch on our parasympathetic nervous system, we enter into a ‘rest and digest’ state, we shift into healing mode, all of which helps to ease our stress response. So, the next time you tune out, switch off and let yourself either relax or meditate, remind yourself of all the good work the PAUSE is doing on your body. These are just some of the scientifically proven benefits…

Relaxation appears to boost immunity in recovering cancer patients. A study at the Ohio State University found that progressive muscular relaxation, when practiced daily, reduced the risk of breast cancer recurrence. In another study at Ohio State, a month of relaxation exercises boosted natural killer cells in the elderly, giving them a greater resistance to tumors and to viruses.

Emotional balance, means to be free of all the neurotic behavior that results from the existence of a tortured and traumatized ego. This is very hard to achieve fully, but meditation/relaxation certainly is the way to cure such neurosis and unhealthy emotional states. As one’s consciousness is cleansed of emotionally soaked memories, not only does great freedom occur, but also great balance.

A study at the University of Western Australia found that women are more likely to conceive during periods when they are relaxed rather than stressed. A study at Trakya University, in Turkey, also found that stress reduces sperm count and motility, suggesting relaxation may also boost male fertility.

When patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome began practicing a relaxation meditation twice daily, their symptoms of bloating, diarrhea and constipation improved significantly. The meditation was so effective the researchers at the State University of New York recommended it as an effective treatment. As someone with a history of IBS, I can attest to this and share from experience that soothing my nervous system with relaxation techniques eased my symptoms and eventually cured my IBS.

A study at Harvard Medical School found that meditation/relaxation lowered blood pressure by making the body less responsive to stress hormones, in a similar way to blood pressure-lowering medication. Meanwhile a British Medical Journal report found that patients trained how to relax had significantly lower blood pressure.

Stress leads to inflammation, a state linked to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and skin conditions such as psoriasis, say researchers at Emory University in the US. In fact, all diseases are rooted in inflammation. Relaxation can help prevent and treat such symptoms by switching off the stress response. In this way, one study at McGill University in Canada found that meditation clinically improved the symptoms of psoriasis.

The simple difference between those who meditate and those who do not, is that for a meditative mind the thought occurs but is witnessed, while for an ordinary mind, the thought occurs and is the boss. So in both minds, an upsetting thought can occur, but for those who meditate it is just another thought, which can quickly blossom and die, while in the ordinary mind the thought instigates a storm which can rage on and on.

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