Meditation for healing focuses on specific techniques tailored to each individual based on needs. Meditation is commonly thought of as a practice that takes time, energy and expertise. However, a growing body of research indicates that anyone can use meditation, regardless of age, gender or knowledge base.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mind-body practice that promotes relaxation and overall well-being. The practice is individual to each person but consists of standard techniques that encourage a heightened sense of awareness and attention to the breath.
In addition to a heightened sense of awareness, meditation enables you to relax your mind by focusing on your physical body and its position in space. Intentional awareness of the physical body helps disrupt the flow of racing thoughts in the mind, enabling us to be fully present.
The Four Elements of Meditation
Although meditation for healing may look different for everyone, successful forms of meditation typically incorporate four key elements into practice.
1. Quiet Location
Finding a quiet, calm location is key to breaking the connection between racing thoughts and physical presence. When we can drown out some of the noises and distractions around us, it is easier to feel a sense of tranquility. This is an integral piece of using meditation for healing purposes.
2. Intentional Posture
You may have heard about the seven chakras and how blockages in these energetic pathways can hinder healing.
Whether you choose to lay, sit, stand, or kneel as you meditate, choosing a posture with intentionality is important. The overarching goal is to lengthen your spine as much as possible so that energy can flow from your tailbone up through the crown of your head. This allows stale, negative energy to flow out and new, positive energy to flow in. Rooting down through each exhale can also help you feel grounded and secure.
3. Open Mind
Having an open mind is an essential component of meditation for healing. Open-mindedness is a trait that encourages adaptability and makes you more open to learning new skills. Like anything, meditation is a skill that can be improved with a shift in attitude.
4. Focus on Breath
Breathwork is also integral to meditation for healing. Some forms of meditation encourage diaphragmatic breathing, a form of intentional breathwork that helps harness prana, or energy. When we practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing, it can help open up blockages in our energy channels, which is an integral step in meditation for healing.
How Exactly Does Meditation Help Us Heal?
Using meditation for healing has been of great interest to psychologists, doctors, and brain researchers alike. Clearing the mind of any blockages can lead to mental and physical healing and give rise to a clearer, more positive state of mind.
Meditation for Stress and Anxiety
Meditation helps alleviate stress and anxiety by positively influencing the sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system is one part of the body’s autonomic nervous system that directs its involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. When poorly controlled, our sympathetic nervous system can become overactive, leading to a rise in blood pressure, respiration, and anxiety.
Another study suggests that meditation can affect activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain involved in processing emotions) by reducing stress and anxiety. Additionally, results showed that different types of meditation for healing continued to affect the amygdala and the body’s fight or flight response even when a person is not meditating.
In a mental silence meditation study, participants were taught a form of mental silence meditation for healing. The intervention period was eight weeks, involving 1-hour evening sessions twice weekly. Affirmations, breathing techniques, and attention focusing exercises were taught in a graded fashion with the emphasis placed on achieving and maintaining a sustainable state of “mental silence.” Results showed that mental silence meditation reduced both work stress and depressed mood.
Meditation for Insomnia
According to a University of Pennsylvania study, approximately 1 in 4 Americans develop insomnia each year. Whether caused by stress, illness, medications, or other factors, insomnia is common and can lead to emotional and physical stress on the body.
New studies suggest that meditation can help people recover from chronic insomnia. In 6 studies, a total of 330 participants with insomnia were assigned to mindfulness meditation groups and control groups. Analysis of the studies revealed that mindful meditation for healing significantly improved insomnia participants’ total wake time and sleep quality.
Meditation for Pain and Inflammation
Mediation has also been shown to lower inflammation levels in the body. Chronic inflammation can lead to pain and disease.
In one study, immune and endocrine measures of inflammation and stress were collected both before and after mindfulness-based stress reduction training. The mindfulness-based stress reduction training resulted in a significantly smaller post-stress inflammatory response compared to other health enhancement interventions.
Additionally, new studies have indicated that people who practice meditation regularly can change the expression of their genes that regulate inflammation. Gene expression is the process of taking genetic information in DNA and translating it into biological functions. Favorable genes can be turned on (expressed) through epigenetics or external modifications to DNA.
Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is entirely different from the acute inflammation that stems from a cut or a bruise. Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system is constantly stimulated. When this happens, your body is left in a perpetual state of alert. Over time, chronic inflammation may harm your tissues and organs.
Research is beginning to show that meditation can help lower chronic inflammation in the body. In one study, in particular, participants were instructed to meditate regularly over eight weeks. The study showed a striking change in the expression of 172 genes that regulate inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism. This form of meditation for healing was also linked to a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure.
Meditation for Gut Health
Research on the gut microbiome is becoming vastly popular in the world of modern medicine.
Unique to each individual, the human gut produces about 95 percent of the serotonin in your body, affecting your brain and cognition.
In the absence of stress, a healthy human gut produces short-chain fatty acids that exert anti-inflammatory and antitumor effects. However, when we experience stress and anxiety, it can actually have a negative impact on our gut, and in turn, our mood.
According to Medical News Today, high-stress levels over time can increase the intestine’s permeability, or “leaky gut.” This means that particles, such as bacteria and undigested food, can move more quickly into the bloodstream, which can cause damaging chronic inflammation.
Meditation is a practice that can be used to heal and regulate the stress response in the body. A lowered stress response suppresses chronic inflammation states, which helps maintain a healthy gut-barrier function. When our guts are healthy and in balance, we feel less anxious and more grounded.
It’s evident that meditation for healing is gaining traction in the wellness world. Meditation helps clear the mind and heal the body. By restoring the flow of healthy energy throughout the body, we can all live happier, more peaceful lives.
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