Benefits of Meditation for Standup Paddlers

Meditating even a few minutes a day offers great mental and physical benefits. Photo: Shari Coble

Meditating for even a few minutes each day offers great mental and physical benefits.  Photo: Shari Coble

Benefits of Meditation for Standup Paddlers

We all know that SUP is a very effective stress reliever. However, if you are still feeling the pressure, it may be time to try a different technique that you can practice either on or off-the-water. Meditation is touted by eastern and western practitioners alike for its mental and physical benefits. However, we have recently seen growing numbers of athletes practicing the ancient technique. Sure, meditation takes patience, a bit of time and some focus, but research is finding that the benefits of the practice are even greater than ever believed. —Shari Coble

Increase Pain Tolerance

A study released in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that meditation has a profound effect on brain activity and certain areas activated were effective in blocking pain, with an efficacy greater than that of morphine. Another recent study in Germany showed that participants reported a decrease in "pain-related bothersomeness," and "significant pain relief," following an eight-week program with daily meditation at home.

Enhance Awareness of Mind and Body

"When we raise our consciousness, we become more aware of the sensations that are happening in the body and we see that the sensations change," says the meditation handbook, The Art of Living, by S.N. Goenka. Science backs up this strong claim, as researchers studied the gray matter density in test subjects' brains following participation in an eight-week meditation program. They found that the areas of the brain where gray matter density changed are associated with self-awareness, in addition to learning, memory and emotion.

Relinquish Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Practicing meditation techniques can help you respond better to stress and post-traumatic stress, according to findings from a study by Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers found that the amygdala–the region of the brain responsible for processing emotion–activity changes during meditative states. The study also reports that the positive effects of meditation work overtime, meaning your mind and body will continue to benefit even when you're not meditating.

Alleviate Anxiety

Focusing on breath and being present in the moment is proving to be effective in reducing or even completely eliminating anxiety according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University. Next time a wave of anxiety washes over you pre-race or on chaotic days, remember the powerful effects of meditation and combat that uneasy feeling in just a few minutes—before it overwhelms you.

Reduce Inflammation

UCLA's Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology reports findings of reduced pro-inflammation activity within the bodies of adults who practice meditation, yoga and Tai Chi. This is big news, as meditation could be a non-invasive defense aid against inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

Heighten Happiness

ABC anchor Dan Harris had a serious panic attack on live television before he dove into figuring out how to be happier. The self-realization journey resulted in his discovery of meditation, which he claims makes him 10% happier. While that figure is not scientific of course, scientists do support the anchorman's claims that meditation increases happiness. A study on the effects of loving-kindness meditation with mindful meditation resulted in positive emotions towards overall self-satisfaction, others and life.

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