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Meditation for improving your health and wellbeing

Meditation for improving your health and wellbeing

by Dr Kate Wood 02/05/2019

Meditation can help not only with your physical but also with your mental health. Simple meditation techniques can help increase creativity and efficiency, develop clarity and emotional positivity.

Dr Craig Hassed, a GP and lecturer at Monash University, says that 1 in 6 doctors teach some type of meditation and over 80% of GPs now refer their patients to meditation practices as part of their patient’s recommended treatment. Research supports meditations' effectiveness in helping with a range of conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and even cancer.

There are many different types of meditation, it's only a matter of finding the one that's right for you.

I love guided meditation, it helps to keep my mind focussed. I meditate every day without fail, even when I was sick.

In our everyday busy lives, it is so easy to go on auto pilot and be influenced by everyone you come in contact with. People are spending more and more time in sympathetic dominance - our “fright, flight or fight” mode which is designed for survival. Research shows, that stress can kill brain cells, decrease abilities of immune system, affect digestion, decrease sex drive, increase aging and damage DNA. In an extreme example, when we are running for our life, we need as much blood, nutrition and oxygen to move and for our brain to be alert, to survive. That's when our digestive and reproductive or immune systems come under the most pressure as they don't get enough of the blood supply or nutrients.

Hassed argues, that very often our thoughts slip into a "default mode" – which involves replaying the past, worrying about the future and experiencing other negative thoughts – leading to "over-activation" of the body's stress response.

This stress response is designed to help you deal with dangers or threats. But when it is too frequently over-activated by threats existing only in your mind, it can cause "wear and tear" on your body over time. This 'wear and tear' can increase risk of illnesses: heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure or diabetes. Learning to switch off through meditation can reverse these effects.

Dr. Sarah Edelman is a clinical psychologist. She uses mindfulness meditation that teaches people to become an observer, to “learn to just watch with curiosity but without judgment'.

Meditation can help you to:

– Decrease stress and promote relaxation

– Manage and eliminate anxiety

– Cope with physical or mental pain

– Accelerate healing and wellbeing

– Improve mood and positive energy

– Increase production of substances that boost immunity, while reducing so-called "pro-inflammatory" chemicals that help cancer cells replicate and form their own blood supply.

Pick one of the following apps to get you started:

Relax and Rest app – different meditations of varying lengths allow you to relax deeply regardless of how much time you have available. No previous meditation experience is required.

The Mindfulness app – This app can be used by everyone. It is easy to use and you can choose between different types of guided meditations, meditation in silence, guided introductions, and for how long you want to sit.

Headspace – Contains bite-sized techniques to help you sleep better, focus more and get some relief from a busy mind.

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