Zen & health
Zen meditation or zazen is extremely beneficial for us in more ways than one. Besides enhancing spiritual growth, it promotes the physical and mental well being of an individual.
Since a huge number of people all over the world have benefitted immensely from meditation, they can recount their stories and tell you how meditation transformed them totally by lifting them to a different plane spiritually and mentally. And though there is no doubt about the fact that mediation has its spiritual and mental benefits, this is not all that mediation can give you. Besides the aforementioned gains, you get rewarded by way of better physical health as well.
And, need we say how important it is to have a healthy body before we set forth to have a healthy mind or spirit. How can we aim for mental well being at all when the body is frail and weak?
Reduce anxiety & stress
Studies and researches conducted on the topic have proved that meditating regularly 'activates the left pre-frontal cortex, while diminishing activity in the right pre-frontal cortex of the brain'. Since the left frontal cortex is associated with positive feelings like calmness, happiness, serenity and peace, meditation acts as a great stress buster. It has also helped many people find a solution to problems like depression.
Better sleep & rest periods
Regular Zen meditation also helps you sleep more peacefully and deeply. Sleeping peacefully is extremely important for the body since it is during this stage of rest that the muscles repair themselves.
Improve immune system
Studies conducted in the past have proved that Zen meditation helps improve the immune system of the body. And a better immunity means that you fall sick less often due to minor infections and ailments like common cold, flu, bad throats, etc.
Reduces sensitivity to pain
Zen meditation helps reduce pain and also sensitivity to it. It is not that those who meditate do not feel the pain. They do, because they are human after all. But Zen mediation teaches them how to cope up with it and they do not dwell on it much due to which they are able to deal with pain in a more dignified manner.
Slows aging process
Zen meditation brings down the body's rate of respiration due to which you consume lesser oxygen, if you meditate regularly. The process of aging, which depends upon the rate at which you consume oxygen, helps you take many years off your body simply by regulating your breathing process!
Improved blood flow
Practicing Zen meditation also helps lower the heart rate and improve blood circulation, both of which also contribute further towards a younger and healthier looking and glowing skin. Besides making you look and feel younger, improved blood circulation has numerous other health benefit
Mood and behavior
By lowering the stress levels, meditation helps lower the frequency of panic attacks. It also helps increase the production of serotonin, a hormone which can cause depression, insomnia, obesity, headaches, etc. if not secreted in adequate quantities.
Lowers blood pressure
Practicing zen meditation daily also helps lower the heart rate and improve blood circulation, both of which contribute making you look younger and healthier looking. Just think of those old zen monks with their glowing smiles and happy faces and how young looking they are
Improves posture in daily life
Most of us these days are beset by postural problems, most of them caused by long hours spent in front of the computer screen or driving a car. Zazen helps you improve your posture, as Zen meditation helps you strengthen your back muscles. This helps you while walking as well as while sitting. This makes the body stronger, more flexible and more toned by aligning the muscles of the spine and also those around it. It also helps to fortify the abdominal muscles. A stronger core thus helps protect the back from both pain and strain. Besides this, an improved posture improves the overall strength of the body, making you look more graceful and taller.
Addiction and recovery
Zen meditation changes the way you think and can help you get rid of many addictions you wanted to but were unable to, without its help. Buddhism treats addictions as 'extreme forms of attachment- It is attachment to fear, attachment to loss, and attachment to longing, emptiness, and a lack of a sense of purpose'. Meditation helps you overcome these fears and focus on your purpose in life, thus helping a person get rid of his addictions.Next: Kodo Sawaki