Meditation: A Cushion for the Road of Life

By Christine Dinino

Human Resources at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

Earlier this year I had a health scare, which landed me in urgent care. My blood pressure was sky-high and the intake physician considered admitting me to the hospital for a day of observation. After reading my vitals and asking me a few questions, she pulled out a prescription pad to prescribe what I thought would be blood pressure medication. To my surprise, I received two prescriptions: one for the blood pressure meds, but the other one was for meditation!

I had tried meditation many years ago, but I couldn’t imagine squeezing one more commitment into my overbooked schedule. So she offered me a deal — if I would promise to meditate every morning for the next five days, and then come back to her office with a lowered blood pressure rate, I wouldn’t need the medication. She warned me that I would have to stay committed to meditation order to keep my pressure in the safe zone.

I was also aware that highly successful people like Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and businesswomen Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey have raved about the benefits of meditation. So I figured it was worth a shot for me.

And it worked! I can’t emphasize enough how this decision has changed my life. Practicing daily meditation has been the most positive, healthy, and life-affirming decision I have ever made. 

Meditation provides a deep reserve of calm, internal strength, and well-being — a kind of “meditative cushion” that smoothes the ride over the emotional potholes of daily life. Research has shown that frequent meditation relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety; boosts your ability to focus; promotes inner calm; and gives you better control over how you express your emotions. And all of these benefits can combine to give you a longer, healthier life!

Six Benefits of Meditation

1. Brain Releases Happy Chemicals: You get a boost of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, all linked to a good mood.

2. Reduces Stress Levels: Left untreated, stress can lead to heart disease, depression, anxiety, and some forms of cancer.

3. Blood Pressure Drops: A study found that meditating twice a day for 20 minutes lowered blood pressure by 5 mm Hg. 

4. Digestion Runs More Smoothly. When relaxed, the body reboots the parasympathetic nervous system, which gets digestion flowing.

5. Swelling Subsides: Lowering stress can reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma.

6. Pain Diminishes: Key pain processing regions of the brain can change activity; in one study, meditation reduced pain intensity by 40 percent.

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