Meditation is a healing to the spirit. You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. People think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration or other beneficial habits such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline and healthy sleep patterns.
One of the common reasons why people try meditation is stress reduction. Mental and physical stress cause increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Stress can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to negative thinking. Furthermore, inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response to stress, can affect mood, leading to depression. A review of several studies suggests meditation may also reduce depression by decreasing levels of these inflammatory chemicals.
Speaking of reducing depression, mindfulness meditation encourages you to slow down, allows for deeper self-reflection, and can help you discover positive attributes about yourself. When meditation leads you to an improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life, your positive thinking could redirect your mind and thoughts from negative emotions.
Some meditation also helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention and improves memory. Focused-attention meditation helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention and may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention. In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia.
Meditation develops mental discipline as well. It may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors. For example meditation may help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating. One study in 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder found that practicing transcendental meditation was associated with lower levels of stress, psychological distress, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months.
Meditation unlike fitness and diet, the methods and results might not be as concrete. The importance of it though, is the same as or even more than the physical needs of your body. Think of meditation as a break for the mind to reconnect with your soul. Mental affects physical and mind affects body. You could rest and be healed only when the mind and heart are well taken care of. By then you could push your potentials to further and greater when your body as a whole is ready.