Feeling stressed? Having horrible back pain? While a “do nothing” attitude is not usually the best approach for our health; when it comes to mindfulness meditation, it can prove beneficial.

The ancient practice of meditation has been around for thousands and thousands of years and remains an integral spiritual practice in many cultures around the world. Along with the growth of yoga, mindfulness meditation has recently gained massive popularity in the Western world, as its countless health benefits continue to be revealed.

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing all of your attention on your body, breath and other sensations in the present moment. It is not a bypassing trend; it’s a ritual that’s become just as crucial to our health as eating healthy and exercising. While the link between meditation and improved mood and reduced stress is well-known, new evidence suggests other key advantages of meditation.

Meditation for Pain Relief

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that like opiate-based pain relievers, mindfulness meditation is effective at reducing pain.

For the experiment, half of the participants were taught how to practice mindfulness meditation, while the remaining spent the same amount of time listening to a book being read aloud. Then, everyone was exposed to pain. As expected, those who meditated reported experiencing less pain. This is because mindfulness meditation activates several regions of the brain with opioid receptors, which control pain.

What’s interesting is half of the mediators were given the drug naloxone, which blocks the body’s opioid receptors. The scientists believed this would essentially undo the pain relieving effects of meditation, but that did not occur. These patients still reported less pain, which suggests meditation works through another avenue of the body to relieve pain.

Meditation for Weight Loss

In addition to relieving pain, meditation can also help you achieve your weight loss goals. Studies suggest mindfulness meditation can help prevent and treat obesity. Meditation decreases simulation in the region of the brain that controls impulsiveness. Similary, meditation allows you to become more in-tune with your body and its internal cues to avoid overeating.

Another way meditation can help is through improving your emotional and phsychological wellbeing, which is an important part of weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. And, with reduced stress, meditation can help you avoid stress eating. So, whether you want to lose weight or stay fit, meditating regularly can help you accomplish those goals.

If you’re new to meditation, visit our Beginner’s Guide to Meditation here.

For more health and wellness news, visit our Wellness section.

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