Misconceptions About Meditation
Hi. This is Dr. Emily Parke with your Functional Health Minute for today. I’d like to talk about meditation. There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation – I know I had them when I first started as well. I thought, “Oh my goodness. You have to sit in the corner of a dark room with your legs crossed for an hour and repeat a word or phrase over and over again.”
Well, if you have an hour and you like to sit on the floor cross-legged, great. However, it does not have to look like that and it doesn’t have to be that long or that complicated.
What the Studies Say
The studies are now showing that even just five or ten minutes a day of regular meditation can be beneficial to your health. Why meditation works in a nutshell is it really helps balance the nervous system. There’s two sides to the autonomic nervous system. There’s the sympathetic nervous system, which is the flight or fight stressful side, and meditation helps calm that down, and then there’s the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest, relax, digest side of the nervous system, and meditation helps up regulate that.
Now there have been great studies on meditation done since even the 1970s at great institutions like Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and so on, proving the benefits to meditation. But some of the really great studies, I love the studies on anxiety, depression, blood pressure, blood sugar, lowers cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone, and some of these studies are so well known, for example, that there’s even a recommendation on the American Heart Association’s website right now if you went there, you would find a recommendation for meditation for anyone whose blood pressure is 120 over 80 or higher.
Again, just starting with five or ten minutes a day is all I’m asking you to do to get started on a meditation practice. If meditation is not your thing, that is okay. I love meditation because of the great medical studies on it, but if it’s deep breathing, if it’s yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, anything will do. I’m just very interested in getting a daily relaxation practice going for all of us because the studies are very clear on it improving our health and our health markers.
This is Dr. Emily Parke with your Functional Health Minute for today.