11 Benefits of Meditation
As a beginner to meditation, you may wonder why you should practice it often. In what way can meditation help me in my life? What is so good about meditation? The answer lies in the numerous benefits that scientific research has shown that meditation has to offer. Below are some of the benefits you may gain according to HealthLine.com should you meditate regularly.
(Medical research articles can be found in the “References” section under “Benefits of Meditation” of this website!)
When we are stressed, our body produces a rise in the stress hormone called cortisol. This causes numerous negative effects of stress like the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. This in turn, can cause a rise in blood pressure, affect our sleep patterns, cause anxiety and depression, as well as tiredness and unclear thoughts.
One medical research study concludes that meditation does help in stress reduction2. In another 2-month review, mindfulness meditation can cause a decrease in cytokines caused by stress3. Also, a study has concluded that meditation may alleviate symptoms of conditions caused by stress like irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia4, 5, 6.
May Help Develop Kindness
Certain kinds of meditation may generate positive feelings and behaviours towards oneself and others. For instance, loving-kindness meditation starts by generating kind thoughts and feelings for oneself. Then by consistent practice, you may begin to spread this kindness and forgiveness to friends, acquaintances, and finally enemies.
Research of 22 studies on loving-kindness meditation discovered that when used regularly, people have better compassion for themselves and others25. In another review of 50 university students, doing loving-kindness meditation consistently for 3 times a week resulted in more positive feelings and better relationships and understandin g with others after 1 month26. These positive changes seem to get better over time as well27.
Manages Anxiety Better
As meditation can reduce stress, that also means less anxiety. This benefit can be found in the following links in the references section at the end of the article.
One research study in 47 patients with long-term pain concluded that finishing a 2-month meditation program resulted in significant positive changes in anxiety, depression and pain over 12 months7. In another study discovered 2 months of mindfulness meditation helped manage anxiety levels in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, together with better positive self-statements and coping skills and response to stress8. Some study also suggests a combination of mindfulness and meditation exercises can help decrease anxiety symptoms9. In another research, it concluded that workers who meditated mindfully for 2 months resulted in better well-being and less mental distress and job stress compared to those in a control group10.
Promotes Longer Attention Span
Focused-attention meditation helps to cause a rise in capacity and energy of one’s attention span. For instance, a research study discovered that people who practiced meditation consistently have better performance on a task that required the use of eyesight and had a longer attention span than the control group who didn’t meditate at all20. Also, another study showed that people who meditated had better accuracy and attention when trying to finish a task than those who didn’t meditate21. Additionally, one review concluded that people who meditated for only 13 minutes every day could recall events better and had better concentration power after 2 months22.
Enhances Emotional Health
Research has shown that certain types of meditation can result in better self-image and a more positive perception in life.
One study has concluded that patients who finished a meditation exercise reported less negativity caused by seeing negative pictures, compared to those in a control group11. In another research of 18 studies, found that patients who meditate had lesser depressive symptoms compared to those in a control group12. Also, one study of treatments given to over 3,500 adult patients discovered that mindfulness meditation lessened depressive symptoms13.
About half of the population will have sleepless nights at some point in time.
Research has discovered that sleep patients who meditated regularly slept longer and had less severe insomnia symptoms compared to those who don’t30. Meditating consistently may help you manage or change direction of fast thoughts in your mind that usually cause insomnia. Meditation can also help calm your body, let go of tension and make you feel more peaceful which is then easier to sleep.
Certain types of meditation may assist you in understanding yourself better and as a result, help you nurture into your ideal self. One example is self-inquiry meditation. Its goal is to help understand yourself better and how you communicate with people around you. Also, meditating regularly may help you become more creative in solving problems14.
Other types of meditation may guide you to be aware of your thoughts that could be negative or self-defeating. The ultimate goal as you become more aware of your thought patterns is to drive them to more constructive habits15, 16, 17.
In one research study, 153 patients who mindfully meditated for half a month felt less lonely and were more sociable compared to those in a control group18. Additionally, one review of 27 studies concluded that doing tai chi may result in better self-belief in their own ability to overcome adversity19.
May Help Control Addictions
Meditation may help achieve discipline through the mind and fight against addictions by having better self-control and awareness for triggers for dependencies. For example, one review of 60 patients of alcohol abuse concluded that doing transcendental meditation for 3 months resulted in lesser stress and impulses to consume alcohol28.
In addition, meditation may help to control impulses for binge eating. A review of 14 studies discovered that the use of mindfulness meditation helped patients to be less emotional and impulsive in binge eating29.
May Reduce Memory Loss due to Age
When you meditate consistently, you may have better concentration power and clearer thoughts that help to keep your mind young. For example, Kirtan Kriya is one kind of meditation that uses chanting or mantra together with moving of the fingers repetitively to concentrate your mind. Research has found that older patients with memory loss who does Kirtan Kriya meditation regularly have improved neuropsychological ability23. Meditation can also not only reduce memory loss due to old age, but also improve memory in older people who have dementia. It can help manage stress and coping skills better for people who are caregivers of patients with dementia23, 24.
May Better Help Manage Pain
Research shows that doing meditation regularly may be helpful in managing your perception of pain.
For instance, one review of 38 studies found that regular use of mindfulness meditation can result in less pain, better quality of life and less depressive symptoms in patients with long term pain31. In addition, a huge meta-analysis of about 3,500 patients found that meditation was correlated to lesser pain32.
In short, while both people who do and don’t practice meditation experienced the same causes of pain, those who do have better coping ability with pain and even feel less pain.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Meditation may help in your physical health by lessening the tension on the heart. People with high blood conditions have their heart pump blood harder, which can result in poor heart condition. High blood pressure can cause the narrowing of the arteries which can result in stroke or heart attack.
A meta-analysis of 12 studies of about 1,000 patients concluded that meditation helped lower blood pressure. This effect was more pronounced among older patients and those who had existing high blood pressure32. Also, one study found that many kinds of meditation had correlated improvements in blood pressure33.
With so many health benefits to meditation, why not start meditating today? Check out my “Top 9 Meditation Tips” on how to get started on meditating today!