It’s dawn… and you begin your day with a gentle, guided meditation that enlivens your mind-body-heart, fills you with a positive outlook, and overflows your senses of love and vitality that will spill over into everything you touch as the day goes on. You look forward to evening as well, when your reflection on the day allows you to release the built-up stresses and settle your body into a peaceful and restful state as you move towards sleep.
You’ve likely gotten to the point where you can’t imagine life without the beloved daily ritual of some of the many types of meditation. There is nothing like the sense of calm, peace, and centeredness that you experience, and you just want to share it with everyone you encounter.
Are you aware that there are scientifically-proven benefits to meditation that have a profound and direct impact on your physical health?
And, did you realize that all the practices of Qigong are forms of meditation? These benefits are even more reasons to love your Qigong practice and continue to make it a centerpiece of each day!
Chances are, you’ve heard of cortisol, the body’s principal stress hormone. While it is essential to your survival, elevated levels over a prolonged period of time can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. Cortisol also encourages the storage of belly fat, which contributes to hormone disruption, blood sugar issues, and poor cardiovascular health.
If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, migraines, arthritis, insomnia, or a weakened immune system, high cortisol levels will worsen these conditions while meditation supports your body to relax, transform the energy of stress, and rebalance your systemic functioning throughout your hormone system and beyond, bringing welcome relief. Here’s why…
Studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness when practiced regularly result in a reduction in cortisol levels (1, 2, 3, 4). Participants also report lowered perceptions and experiences of stress.
Stress is a long-established contributor to inflammation response and inflammatory conditions within the body — the basis of a long list of painful physical conditions such as arthritis and autoimmune diseases. One study has shown that meditation in the form of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction reduced cortisol-induced stress response (5).
Researchers were able to document the ensuing reduction of inflammation by observing inflammatory markers in lab tests. They report that “These results suggest behavioral interventions designed to reduce emotional reactivity may be of therapeutic benefit in chronic inflammatory conditions.” (6)
The reduction of stress — and the cascade of physical problems that accompany it — may be motivation enough to continue gracing your body with the goodness of meditation! And, there are even more benefits you will want to know as well…
One study showed that meditation was one of several non-pharmaceutical alternatives shown to be effective in the reduction of the miseries of fibromyalgia (7). Proven benefits have also been demonstrated for sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome — all without adding yet another prescription to the patient’s regimen (8).
As we live longer and healthier lives, a new concern is becoming more problematic and worrisome than ever — memory issues among those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. Once erroneously thought to be just a normal part of aging or even a “mental illness”, these issues have now been traced to demonstrable physical changes in the brain.
As the science advances, so does the power to address memory-robbing diseases. Simple dietary changes, such as upping Omega-3 fats and cutting back on sugar, for example, are believed to support brain health.
Amazingly, research shows that meditation results in improvement of performance on neuropsychological tests and a reduction of memory loss in dementia patients (9, 10, 11). As an added bonus, their stressed-out caretakers experienced significant benefits, most notably from reduced stress levels, when engaging in meditation practices as well!
Here are some other astonishing physical benefits to add to the list (12):
- Helps to detoxify your body
- Lowers cholesterol
- Relaxes muscles and increases flexibility
- Improves circulation
- Increases general energy levels
- And so much more!
We can all fall into the trap of taking a good thing for granted… and that applies to our Qigong practice just as much as anything else. Maybe you just feel like staying in bed and skipping a morning session, or you get so busy later in the day that you opt out of a late-day practice every now and then.
While missing an occasional session won’t make a difference, you want to be careful about skipping your regular meditative routines. Just like the physical body needs food, water, and sleep each day, your energy system needs nourishment and replenishment daily too! Hopefully, this list of physical benefits will give you fresh inspiration to continue (or begin) your meditative Qigong practice.
Your mind-body-heart will thank you and reward you for it!