Plus there are all those other reasons not to, like where can you even find a quiet place to meditate these days? And, more importantly, how do you even meditate properly? Do you need a special candle, music, outfit? So many self-care questions.
However, according to the bestselling author of The Happiness Plan, Dr Elise Bialylew, the health benefits of even just ten minutes a day of meditation are real and can result in huge wellbeing rewards including she says, “an enhanced immune function.” Which we all need, especially in the winter months.
Vogue asked the trained psychiatrist-turned-mindfulness-expert and author every question we’ve ever wanted to know about meditation from the benefits to the science behind it, to how to meditate properly. Read on for meditation 101.
What are the key health benefits of meditation and the science behind it?
“Enhanced immune function,” for one, says Bialylew, “Dr Richard Davidson, from the US-based Centre for Healthy Minds concluded in a study in 2003 that a short-term mindfulness training program resulted in participants developing a stronger immune response when challenged with the flu injection. And a healthy immune system often results in optimal physical health, overall.”
Secondly, says Bialylew, “Parts of the brain correlated to positive emotion are activated. Research has demonstrated that people who suffer from depression and negative mood states have more electrical brain activity on the right side of the brain, compared with those who have more a positive, resilient attitude in life. Simply put, meditation leads to greater happiness.”
Thirdly, “growth in higher-functioning regions of the brain,” says Bialylew and fourth, “overall mental health is improved.”
How can ten minutes make a difference?
“In my own research recently published in the Mindfulness Journal… I discovered that just ten minutes a day of mindfulness meditation over one month, was enough to support significant self-reported benefits including an increase in positive emotions, reduction in negative emotions and the impact of stress, an increase in self-compassion and greater focus in daily life,” says Bialylew.
She adds, “A ground-breaking study by Davidson… discovered that just one day of meditation could change the genetic expression of inflammatory markers in the body (we know that inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases).”
What suggestions do you have to start practicing meditation?
“It can be helpful to initially practice meditation in a quiet room, however, I teach busy people how to bring these mindfulness practices into every aspect of life including their relationships, the way they eat, exercise, work, so that the benefits are experienced more broadly not just while you’re meditating,” Bialylew says.
“I created the global Mindful in May campaign and wrote my mindfulness guidebook The Happiness Plan, to offer people a step-by-step pathway to bringing this practice into their busy lives in just ten minutes a day,” the author adds.
Are there any external beauty benefits from practicing meditation?
“I haven’t come across any research which proves that meditation can reduce your wrinkles, however, there was a study which explored the effects of mindfulness meditation on an enzyme in the body called telomerase, which functions to protect DNA from age and stress-related damage. Interestingly enough, telomerase was increased in the group of regular meditators, suggesting that meditation can protect the cells from age-related damage,” Bialylew says.
This is an excerpt taken from Vogue Australia. Read the original here.
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