Meditation is an ancient art and a modern stress elimination technique. Most deeply researched, meditation has become the most effective technique for a healthy mind and a strong body. The benefits of meditation are countless. It has even been likened to a multivitamin for your brain. Here’s why meditation is perfect for inculcating mindfulness, initiating deep concentration and focus and improving health outcomes.
Benefits For the Mood States
#1 Meditation decreases depression
In a Belgium based study, students who followed in class mindfulness meditation sessions reported fewer chances of depression as well as stress and anxiety half a year later. Students were also less likely to display depression type symptoms. A study from the University of California also found that those with previous depressive episodes had less ruminative thinking or dysfunctional belief systems following meditation. Researchers have found mindfulness meditation to be just as useful as antidepressant drug therapy for treating depression. Another study saw high-risk pregnant women were more stress and depression free following mindfulness and yoga sessions.
#2 Fend off Anxiety and Mood-Related Disorders
In over 20 controlled randomized research studies, involving the use of meditative prayer, meditation, relaxation response and yoga, it was found that meditation staves off anxiety and mood disorders. Drug therapy and meditation have been shown to treat anxiety in similar ways, by researchers in the JAMA journal.
#3 Lowers Anxiety and Stress in General
A University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that open monitoring meditation such as Vipassana lowers grey matter density in the human brain in areas associated with stress and anxiety. Meditation followers also had less likelihood of having worries and obsessive thoughts.
#4 Meditation Lessens Panic
In an American Journal of Psychiatry study, 22 individuals diagnosed with anxiety or panic disorders underwent relaxation and meditation training. For a majority of the patients, anxiety and panic lowered substantially and changes held during the follow-up.
#5 Meditation Raises Concentration of Grey Matter in the Brain
Harvard researchers found that people who followed mindfulness meditation, using guided meditations had more grey matter concentration in areas of the brain associated with memory, learning, emotion regulation, sense of self and perspective, as per MRI scans. Volumes of grey matter in the hippocampus and frontal lobe also rose, according to the Science Direct research.
#6 Meditation Enhances Psychomotor Vigilance and Reduces The Need for Sleep
Research conducted by the University of Kentucky found that non-meditators were less likely to have an improvement in performance as against meditators, even novices when it came to psychomotor vigilance and reduced need for sleep. If meditation can reduce a portion of sleep or ward off sleep debts is being studied by researchers currently.
#7 Meditation Generates Brain Gamma Waves
A study by University of Wisconsin researchers found that novice meditators among Tibetan Buddhist monks showed an incremental increase in gamma activity, but most monks showed large increases of the sort never before reported in neuroscience studies.
#8 Meditation Cuts Down on Alcohol and Smoking
Meditation can help compact substance abuse and alcohol intake, according to a JAMA study.
Benefits for Cognitive Abilities
#9 Meditation Improves Attention, Focus and Capacity to Withstand Stress
A study by University of California researchers has found that following meditation training, subjects were able to concentrate better on monotonous and repetitive tasks. They even performed up to 10 fold better than those who lacked meditation. They also excelled on information-processing tasks designed to initiate deadline stress. Those who meditate have also been found by researchers to have thicker prefrontal cortical area and right anterior insula and this offsets the loss of cognitive ability with old age.
#10 Meditation Enhances Decision Making and Information Processing Capabilities
Researchers have found that long-term meditators have bigger amounts of verification or folds in the cortex that permit the brain to process information faster. Scientists have found more gyres or folds in the brain make it easier to remember information, attend to stimuli, process information and make decisions.
#11 Meditation Provides Mental and Emotional Strength Plus Resilience
The process of mind control through meditation raises strength, emotional intelligence, and resilience.
#12 Meditation Strengthens the Emotions
A University of Montreal research study found that 13 Zen masters and non-practitioners when faced with heat and pain, showed differential responses as measured by fMRI scans. Additionally, the meditation experts reported less pain as opposed to non-practitioners.
#13 Meditation Lowers Pain
A study found that after meditation, participants reported less pain and pain-related brain activation using ASL MRI to measure brain activity. There was a 40% reduction in pain intensity and 57% reduction in pain unpleasantness. This also reduced painless than morphine or pain-relieving medication.
#14 Meditation Combats ADHD
In research involving ADHD patients, the group that submitted to MBCT or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy reduced their impulsivity and hyperactivity and reported more awareness, combating the overall symptoms of lack of attention.
#15 Meditation Helps in Sharpening the Focus
An Emory University study found that those with more meditation skills experience increased connectivity in the brain when it comes to networks controlling attention. These neural links can contribute to the cognitive skill development of focusing despite distractions. Benefits of meditation were noted in daily life as well.
#16 Meditation Improves Learning, Self-Awareness, and Memory
Long term meditation raises the density of grey matter in the brain. This triggers improvements in self-awareness, learning, and memory.
#17 Mindfulness Meditation Enhances Rapid Recall
Mindfulness meditation enhances numerous mental abilities including rapid memory recall.
#18 Meditation Improves Mood and Psychological Well Being
Nottingham Trent University researchers found that when faced with stress and mood disturbances, subjects who underwent meditation experienced improvements in well being.
#19 Meditation Improves Concentration
Rather than changing gears, researchers found that subjects trained in meditation reported lower stress levels and better recall for tasks performed, switching less often and remaining focused on tasks longer.
#20 Meditation Allocates Limited Brain Resources Optimally
When the brain faces multiple targets of attention, an attentional blink may occur. Researchers found individuals who meditated had better control over attention and perceptual responses. They also showed the allocation of brain resources in a more optimal way.
#21 Meditation Enhances Short-Term Memory and Visuospatial Processing
Researchers have found that after just a couple sessions of meditation training, there were significant improvements in visuospatial processing, executive functioning, and working memory.
#22 Meditation Combats Stressors
An AIIMS study found that compared with adults that never practiced meditation earlier if the meditation is practiced before exposure to the stressor, adverse effects of stress were negated.
#23 Meditation Raises Awareness of the Unconscious Mind
University of Sussex researchers found that people who practiced meditation experienced a more massive pause between unconscious impulses and actions and are less subject to hypnosis.
#24 Meditation Imparts Creativity
Research from Netherlands’ Leiden University found that non-reactive meditation had a positive impact on creativity and divergent thinking. Subjects who followed the practice excelled when it came to creating new ideas and concepts.
Benefits For Health
#25 Meditation Lowers Chance of Stroke and Heart Disease
More persons die of heart disease than any other illness in the world. In a study published in 2012, researchers found that high-risk individuals who took sessions in transcendental meditation had a reduction in chances of developing a heart attack or stroke or facing an early death. Meditation shows a reduction in risk for mortality, myocardial infarction as well as stoke in CHD patients. These changes take place along with lower blood pressure for those who meditate.
#26 Meditation Impacts Genes That Monitor Stress and Immunity
A Harvard Medical School study found after practicing yoga and meditation, individuals showed enhanced mitochondrial energy generation and consumption. Resiliency also grew following meditation. This improvement develops immunity and resilience to stress.
#27 Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure
Clinical studies have found that meditation reduces stress and high BP. Another experiment with relaxation response yielded similar results after three months of meditation and lessened the need for medicines. Relaxation induced by meditation results in the opening of blood vessels through the formation of nitric oxide.
#28 Meditation Training Lowers Inflammation
A study conducted in the EU found that practicing meditation increased genetic and molecular effects on subjects. It reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, correlated with faster physical recovery from stress-filled situations. Meditation training resulted in the prevention of cellular phase inflammation as opposed to control groups.
#29 Mindfulness Prevents Asthma, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Rheumatoid Arthritis
University of Wisconsin Madison researchers found that mindfulness training was most effective in reducing health problems and promotion of well being in terms of asthma, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease prevention.
#30 Meditation Treats Menstrual Problems
Research has found that meditation and meditative prayer helped to treat menopausal and premenstrual syndromes and symptoms. A conclusion of over 20 randomized control studies found that pre-menstruation and menstrual symptoms are eliminated through meditation.
#31 Meditation Stems the Flow of Alzheimer’s
Just 30 minutes of meditation a day reduces loneliness. It also lowers the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and premature death.
#32 Meditation Helps Patients With Fibromyalgia
A study conducted found that participants who suffered from fibromyalgia and underwent meditation training for eight weeks found considerable improvement in overall health status of participants and warding off of stiffness, depression and anxiety. Less impairments in functionality and more improvements in overall quality of life were also reported.
#33 Meditation Manages the Heart and Respiratory Rate
Studies have found integrated meditation techniques show significant fall in respiratory and heart rate for eight months following the training.
#34 Meditation Boosts Immunity, Halts Aging
A UCLA study found that immunity is posted with the use of meditation techniques. Meditation also arrests stress caused by CD4T cell declines. Additionally, telomeres are a critical part of human cells impacting how cells age. While the research is not yet conclusive, some form of meditation has reduce the stress and arousal associated with tension and promote generation of telomeres, their lengthening and maintenance.
#35 Meditation Staves off Psoriasis
Additionally, psychological stress is a inflammation trigger. Meditation based stress reduction intervention through UV light therapy lowers psoriasis lesions in patients with this disorder.
#36 Additional Health Benefits of Meditation
A vast number of studies point to the benefit of transcendental meditation or TM. This reduces the metabolic syndrome, manages the ill effects of trauma, extends longevity, lowers blood pressure, reduced coronary artery thickening and myocardial ischemia. It also helps to prevent anxiety, manage cholesterol and treat epilepsy. Smoking needs to be eliminated and stress can be lowered with meditation in place. It also creates a deep sense of rest for the mind and the body. It also enhances skin resistance and clear thinking.
#37 Lower Stress, Control Anxiety
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons for people to try meditation. Using meditation to counter stress is very effective. Mental and physical stress lead to increased stress hormone levels. Cortisol is one of the most harmful effects of stress and lead to the release of inflammatory chemicals namely cytokines. This can lead to sleep disruption, promotion of depression and anxiety, increase in BP and fatigue as well as clouded thinking. Meditation reduces the inflammation response initiated by stress. Meditation decreases stress related conditions such as PTSD, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome.
Stress also induces anxiety and meditation, therefore, helps people to reduce their anxiety. There are also symptoms of anxiety disorders such as social anxiety, phobias, paranoid thoughts, OCD behaviors and panic attacks. Research has also found that subjects who completed an 8-week meditation program maintained lower anxiety levels in the long run. Numerous participants have displayed a variety of different meditation strategies that lower anxiety levels. Yoga is useful for people to lower anxiety. Benefits from meditative practice and physical activity can help alleviate stress in high-pressure work ecosystems. Continuous meditation helps to lower anxiety and anxiety related mental health issues like OCD, phobia and social anxiety.
#38 Promote Emotional Health
Certain forms of meditation can also enhance the self-image and create a more positive outlook on life. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation decreased depression in a wide number of adults. As volunteers practiced meditation over a period of three years, they found long term reduction in depressive symptoms. Cytokines which release in response to stress, impact the mood and lead to depression. Several studies indicate the meditation can reduce depression by lowering the cytokines. A study also compared the electrical activities for those who regularly meditated and those who did not. Measurable changes in activity in thinking and optimism in the brain were noted. Creating a positive outlook in life is easier and benefits can be maintained in the long run through regular meditation.
#39 Enhance Self-Awareness and Increase Positive Mental Health
Certain forms of meditation can help in creating a stronger understanding of the self, enabling you to grow your best self. Self-inquiry meditation can help in creating a better understanding of not only emotions and thoughts one has, but awareness of others as well. Check thoughts which can be damaging and self-defeating by using positive mental health strategies like meditation. Experience in meditation is also associated with increased self-esteem, reduced feelings of loneliness and creative problem-solving. Focused meditation works well for increasing the attention span and endurance of the attention. Meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that lead to lack of attention, worrying and anxiety.
#40 Age-Related Memory Loss Can be Reversed
While it is important to work in terms of attention and clear thinking, the benefits of meditation on this score cannot be emphasized enough. A review of multiple studies found that participants were able to improve memory tasks in multiple studies of age associated memory loss. It leads to increased attention, memory, and mental quickness in study participants too. Memory loss in patients with dementia can be reversed with this method. Regular meditation increases memory and mental clarity.
Benefits for Relationships
#41 Meditation Improves Social and Personal Relationships
Meditation improves empathy levels and positive relationships. It also enhances psychological well-being and the use of loving-kindness meditation where practitioners focus on compassion towards all living beings is an example of this. Development of positive emotions through compassion builds up many personal resources.
#42 Meditation Reduces Social Isolation
A study conducted by APA found subjects felt social connectivity and positive vibes towards individuals at implicit and explicit levels. Easily implemented techniques increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.
#43 Meditation Raises Compassion, Lowers Worry
Following compassion cultivation training, through meditation, individuals have demonstrated deeper compassion for others and self. Emotionally suppressing emotions and worry can be eliminated through this method too.
#44 Meditation Decreases Loneliness
A study from Carnegie Mellon found mindfulness meditation decreases feelings of loneliness and lowers the risk of morbidity, mortality, and expression of pro-inflammatory genes.
#45 Meditation Reduces Emotional Eating
TM has helped people to reduce binge cravings and manage emotional eating and prevent obesity.
#46 Meditation Improves the Quality of Life
Scientific studies have demonstrated that meditation enhances the cognitive and intellectual abilities of practitioners. This effect of gaining in intelligence has been noticed in many studies. Research shows regular meditation raises school performance from nursery to college. Work efficiency benefits performance with research showing the reduction in stress and enhanced decision-making. This leads to higher efficiency in the workplace at large and small organizations both. Meditation leads to higher cognitive integration setting the stage for mental alertness, creative problem solving and originality of thought.
#47 Meditation Leads to Higher Levels of Consciousness
Benefits of meditation are many. You can access higher levels of consciousness and more secure sleep. Study of meditative experience shows meditation experts have 5 times greater gamma output.
#48 Relationship Benefits of Meditation
Business leadership or personal relationships are easier to manage and there is increased happiness and less stress following meditation. Marital benefits of relationships are also important. Greater marital adjustment is noted in those who meditate.
#49 Life Expectancy and Longevity Benefits of Meditation
Mortality rates from numerous fatal heart conditions were cut by 48% with regular meditation practice showing patients suffering from cardiovascular disease benefitting immensely from this activity.
#50 Pregnancy and How Meditation Helps
Meditation also helps pregnant women and their newborns. It improves brain coherence, initiates good sleep, lowers distress and coping, increases skin radiance and lowers blood pressure.
Meditation, therefore, has value for all ages and genders and offers a unique set of benefits for people across different conditions and health states. For those with health problems, meditation exerts therapeutic benefits. Those combating long standing chronic diseases can initiate better recovery and management outcomes through meditation. Finally, those in good health can undergo meditation to ensure preventative benefits of the same. So, whether you are on the path to good health or struggling with medical issues, meditation offers benefits either which way. For strengthening the body and empowering the mind, meditation is the right step forward.