Anyone who meditates or does yoga knows that after a session, you feel more relaxed, more at ease, but those experiences are tough to quantify. Sure, you feel calmer, but how is that feeling linked to your overall health? Scientists at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Subjects created a study to do just that!
The sample size for this study was small, but the results are still hard to ignore. Twenty six people who had never practiced yoga or meditation before went through 8 weeks of meditation training, and the researchers did blood analysis throughout that period. They were looking for chemical indicators in the blood that are part of our natural response to stress, the “fight or flight” response. As the subjects practiced meditation more and more, their bloodwork indicated fewer and fewer of these stress responses.
So, what does it all mean?
Stress is terrible for your body and has been linked to all sorts of health problems, like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Basically, this study proved empirically that meditation is not just relaxing but actually changes your body’s chemistry to make you better equipped to handle stressful situations. According to one of the study’s authors, practicing yoga or meditation for 10-20 minutes twice a day can have long-term benefits to your health.”