Deep breathing and meditation benefits

Deep breathing and meditation are recommended for people who are fighting stress, anxiety, and brain fog, as well as for those who want to improve their overall heath and mental focus. This is because both deep breathing and meditation are easy to implement, cost free practices, that are shown to have long lasting effects on the body and mind.

Meditation puts the brain in theta waves, which leads to clearer thinking and a calming effect. Meditation also grows the frontal cortex, which is needed for focus, planning, clarity.

Deep breathing changes your blood chemistry by pumping more oxygen to your brain. This sends signals your nervous system to calm down and you will feel a relaxed feeling as your whole body starts to slow down.

Why is meditation good?

According to science, meditation lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, balances hormone levels, reduces inflammation, improves thinking, and clears our minds.

Access to higher brain waves

There are 4 types of brain waves; delta, theta, alpha, and beta. When we meditate we utilize the theta and delta waves, which are considered the higher functioning waves.

  • Theta waves are linked to relaxation, creativity, and problem-solving.
  • Delta waves, on the other hand, occur during sleep and sleep like states and are thought to have restorative properties.
  • Beta waves are the waves we are in most of the day when we are alert and actively thinking.
  • Alpha waves are between alert and meditative states, they occur when we are relaxed, but still very lucid.

Studies reveal the positive effect of meditation on the mind

In the 1960’s Dr Herbert Benson became intrigued by the effect that meditation had on overall well-being and mental health. He went on to publish a book titled “The Relaxation Response” in 1975, which includes many of the studies that were undertaken in his laboratories at Harvard Medical School.

Benson claims that meditation allows us to turn off the automated fight or flight modes and gain more control over our reactions to certain situations. His studies also indicated that many common health conditions such as anxiety, hypertension, and heart conditions can be avoided by frequently entering a state of deep relaxation.

What’s interesting is that over the past thirty years, studies continue to back the claim that meditation has positive effects on the body, but a lot are disputed saying more rigorous research needed to be done. Since the mind and body are connected, meditation can play a pivotal role in maintaining optimal health.

Meditation helps to control stress and anxiety

Many of us are guilty of having a busy mind and giving too much power to passing thoughts, which only seems to magnify their presence. Before you know it, thoughts of worry and stress can start to play back on repeat, often to the point where your sleep starts to become affected and you have a mind you just can’t seem to switch off. Surviving on minimal sleep is bad for your health and makes keeping up with your busy schedule nearly impossible. If you don’t find a way to switch off and relax, your mental health can suffer greatly.

For those struggling with anxiety, doctors are turning their attention to the use of meditation in treatment plans rather than relying solely on psychotropic drugs. One study, by the National Health Institute, took 89 participants who had been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and taught half of them meditation. Participants who were not in the mindfulness meditation group were taught a stress management course. It was found at the end of the eight-week test period that those who took the meditation course had superior coping mechanisms along with improvements in self-reported stress levels compared to those who took the stress management course.

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist who worked on this study states:

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self.’”

Meditation related interventions are a necessary part of stress and mood management because medication alone is not always successful. It is estimated that 30-60% of patients prescribed psychotropics for anxiety don’t reach a successful outcome after treatment. Meditation is readily accessible to just about anyone on the planet and doesn’t come with any unwanted side effects.

Meditation has been linked to reduced disease and illness

It has been found that chronic psychological stress raises inflammation in the body, which greatly affects the immune system and our ability to ward off disease. This can be anything from a common cold to more serious conditions such as coronary artery disease or cancer. Dr Mercola paints a very clear picture of just how important it is to control stress and inflammation in your body with the statement, “inflammation is the root of all disease.”

While meditation is obviously not a miracle cure, by taking the time to practice daily, not only are you protecting your mental health, but you’re also ensuring that your immune system remains in top shape.

A study that was carried on 90 cancer patients who participated in a meditation-based stress reduction program, showed decreases in mood disturbances and overall stress symptoms.

How to incorporate meditation into each day

If you’re brand new to meditation, it can be a little hard to get started and maintain focus. Much like Julia Roberts in Eat, Love, Pray on her first attempt at meditation in India, it’s obviously easy to be distracted. From the noisy fan overhead, to an itch on the foot, or a buzzing fly, many people have a hard time switching off their mind. But don’t worry, you don’t need to force yourself to sit still for a whole hour. Just commit to 5-10 minutes and when you feel yourself starting to lose focus, focus on your breathing. It’s all about working your way up to more still time.

Finding your zen space is also helpful, you don’t need a Buddhist garden or ancient temple to start meditating, although that would be nice. A simple mat on the floor or your bed is a great place to start. While you can meditate on a busy train, plane or bus with the aid of guided meditation through headphones, it’s best to find a quiet space at home or in the outdoors to meditate when starting out.

If you do commute on public transport for work however, a guided meditation gives you that chance to zen out before coming home to cook dinner or running other errands. Guided meditations are a spoken meditation, usually with accompanying background music and are probably the easiest way for those who have a hard time sitting still to learn.

Others might find that they benefit more from a meditation class, where you can be guided through the steps of quieting the mind. Casual classes are generally between thirty minutes and one hour and you’ll be very surprised at how quick this time goes once you immerse yourself in the class.

During meditation, everything slows down. You feel the gentle beating of your heart in your chest, the breath traveling through your torso, and any sounds in the room begin to fade. You can even recognize which areas of your body or muscles are holding onto tension.

There are limitless rewards from meditation; scientifically proven health benefits, an overall feeling of wellness and vitality, and the ability to achieve clarity by quieting persistent overthinking. All of these elements help to understand how meditation continues to be carried across the ages, playing a pivotal role moving into our modern-day future.

Deep Breathing

While deep breathing is a simple technique, it has copious benefits. Deep breathing not only helps us create harmony and relaxation in our body, it can even help to improve our immune and nervous systems.

Those who follow the Windhoff Method of deep breathing, in combination with cold exposure, report “increased energy, reduced stress, better sleep, heightened focus and determination, enhanced creativity, boosted immune system, and control over the autonomic system.”

To practice the Windhoff method for deep breathing

  • Wear lose clothing and sit or lie down somewhere comfortable
  • Start with 30-40 power breaths. To do this, inhale fully, but don’t exhale all the way out. As you inhale you should feel your belly rise and on the exhale, you should feel your belly fall. It may feel a bit like you are hyperventilating, but that is normal.
  • Hold your breath as long as you can.
  • Breath in as deep as you can and hold it for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat Steps 1-4 for 3 more cycles
  • It is beneficial to mediate after a session such as this when the body is calm and the mind is still

To practice simple deep breathing

  • Breath in for 2
  • Hold for 2
  • Breath out for 2

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