The benefits of meditation go beyond cultural myths.
When I first started meditating almost two decades go, I thought it was cool for a young teenager sitting in a half lotus posture contemplating about the meaning of life (except it has nothing to do with contemplation and I almost fell asleep most of the time). Which is why I still prefer walking meditation to precede the sitting session.
But what amazes me today is to see the widespread practice of meditation across ages and gender. You probably know by now that meditation is effective in managing stress or you had read something about it. In fact, this article by Johns Hopkins Medicine noted that 30 minutes of daily meditation may improve symptoms of stress and anxiety. (But I suspect there’s more than that)
Meditation, a practice common in the East has spread and gained popularity in the West for the past 30 years. With meditation going online in the form of Headspace and Master Your Mind, I thought there must be more reasons on why meditation has appealed to the younger generation. So I’ve got the search engine busy. The results that I found amazes me.
Here are the proven benefits of meditation:
I’m not sure if meditation could make you rich or turn you into a star employee but it definitely helps. Here’s how.
1. Meditation sharpens your attention
This is what I can testify first hand. With continuous mindfulness meditation practice for more than 6 months, I found my attention span increases and it truly helps my study in my college days. In fact, this article from LiveScience states that meditation could possibly be used to treat conditions such as ADHD.
2. Meditation improves your ability to multitask
Try not to multitask if you can. It’s not healthy for your brain really. But if you have to, consider practicing mindfulness meditation, as it decreases negative emotions normally associated with multitasking and also resulted in less fragmented work.
3. Meditation improves your memory
If you often get into trouble because you forgot about your next appointments or where you placed your files, meditation may be what you are looking for to improve your memory. This study showed how students who practice mindfulness meditation improve their scores in their exams.
4. Meditation improves your creativity
According to this article by ScienceDaily, different methods of meditation have various results on creativity. It names “open monitoring meditation” as the meditation technique that resulted in the most improvement in terms of creativity. A further read up on “open monitoring” shows that it is in fact, mindfulness meditation.
5. Meditation improves your will power
The key to success is often associated with perseverance. It’s going through failures after failures without losing the enthusiasm. You need a very strong will power for that. This EocInstitute article cited that study shows that an area of the brain associated with willpower is active during meditation.
6. Meditation enhances your logical thinking
If you are often swayed by emotion when making critical decisions, then consider meditation as a practice that cultivates logical thinking. The practice of meditation actually stimulates alpha brain waves that enhance your logical thinking.
7. Meditation increases your (brain) speed
Yes. If you are going for a higher processing power for your workload, try meditation but this doesn’t happen overnight. A study by UCLA shows that meditation may speed up brain processing but this requires years of practice consistently.
Some people said that happiness is your own responsibility. You thought it sounds right until you actually need to be happy and then it’s a struggle. Meditation can teach you how.
8. Meditation makes you happier
In my post How To Let Go Of The Anger, I mentioned about watching our anger without being attached to it. In meditation, you tune your consciousness in a way that’s not possible when you’re going by the motion, according to this article.
9. Meditation makes you more relaxed
This is probably why so many people look to incorporate meditation into their lifestyle. While meditation does indeed help you relax, it is important not to expect the same result for every session. In fact, having expectation could get you stuck in your meditation practice.
10. Meditation decreases depression
I know how bad depression can be. Black, empty and bottomless may describe those who suffered from this complicated situation. Mindfulness meditation has been used with equal effectiveness as anti-depressant drugs in treating depression, a study by Oxford University showed.
11. Meditation decreases stress
We all wanted to leave our work stress at our workplace. But we always manage to drag a few problems back and turn our home into a stress zone. Mindfulness meditation has grown popular as one effective stress buster technique.
12. Meditation decreases anxiety
You get anxious when you are worried about the countless possibilities and problems that may never happen. Meditation doesn’t zap off your anxiety just like that. Instead, it trains you to be in the present. Because most solutions are found in the here and now.
13. Meditation makes you positive
Are you seeing solutions in every problem or vice versa? Regular meditation practice brings awareness to your thoughts. It changes your perception and turns your mindset into a positive one.
People are being more aware of living a healthy lifestyle. With yoga, a practice that originates from India and now made popular in major cities, meditation is also following the footstep as one of the important elements of a healthy lifestyle.
14. Meditation increases immune function
Less antibiotic? That’s probably a good reason to start meditating. According to this study, meditators are found to have increased in antibody titers to influenza vaccine. It indicates meditation may bring a positive change to the immune system.
15. Meditation decreases pain
The same as being detached from anger, mindfulness practice allows a meditator to observe pain without being attached to it. In this study, meditator reported a 27% reduction in pain intensity after being heated by a Thermo probe.
16. Meditation decreases inflammation at the cellular level
If you wonder what is this all about (I did), mindfulness meditation reduces the chances of inflammatory diseases as such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study.
17. Meditation lowers blood pressure
If you are working in a high-stress environment or have a quick temper, beware of high blood pressure, one of the silent killers. Mindfulness practice has been proved effective to keep it under control.
18. Meditation promotes weight loss
This would get many women (and men too) to start meditating. This is a result of bringing the habit cultivated into meditation to your daily life. I’ve written an extensive post here. Still, this doesn’t mean you can cancel your gym membership right now.
19. Meditation fights insomnia
Dalai Lama said, “Sleep is the best meditation”. With all due respect, I humbly disagree. When your mind is in a mess, sleep is hard to come and even if it does, you won’t get any quality sleep. Here’s one of my post on how meditation could help.
Our brain is perhaps one of the most complicated organs in our body. Despite that, studies have shown that continuous meditation practice leads to a better change in our brain structure.
20. Meditation increases gray matter
If you’re not familiar with the gray matter (I’m not), it’s actually the darker tissues in the brain. And people who meditate frequently will see an increase of gray matter in the hippocampus, an area associated with learning and memory. Find out more in this article.
21. Meditation decreases amygdala size
In short, it reduces your anxiety and fear by reducing the part associated with it.
22. Meditation increases cortical thickness
In a study among 20 participants, meditation is found to increase cortical thickness in regions that are associated with attention and sensory processing. Check out the images from the study here.
23. Meditation helps with addiction
Psychotherapist Ronald Alexander, Ph.D., uses meditation as one of the methods to help patients overcome their drug addiction. He even mentioned in his article that mindfulness meditation can create new neural networks, opening possibilities for character change and learning, something deemed almost impossible after childhood.
24. Meditation preserves the aging brain
Anti-aging brought to a whole new level. A study from UCLA shows, older meditators showed a reduced volume loss of gray matter compared to non-meditators of the same group. More reason to start meditating now.
People who practice meditation are sometimes viewed as reclusive, loner or anti-social. This is all but a misguided perception. In fact, studies showed the exact opposite.
25. Meditation decreases loneliness
Loneliness is more than emotions alone. It increases the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer and even depression especially among people of older age. This UCLA study shows that those who practice mindfulness meditation are more attentive to the present and dwell less on the past thus reduces the feeling of loneliness.
26. Meditation promotes a better love life
When you meditate frequently, you become more aware of your own emotions and those of your partner. A research conducted shows that people who meditate shows lesser negative emotion on their face when interacting with their partners, compared to those who didn’t.
There’s a specific meditation style that does this best. The loving kindness meditation. Often practiced as a complement to mindfulness meditation, the loving-kindness meditation is good, especially for anger management. A research has also shown that meditation may help to increase positive social emotion.
28. Meditation increases compassion
The world would be a better place if there are more compassion instead of hatred. David DeSteno, Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University has tested out that meditator displays more compassion compared to non-meditators.
If you’re frequently beating yourself up and constantly feel threatened by others, then you probably have social anxiety disorder. Practicing meditation can change the way you view yourself to a more positive note. Here’s a study conducted on this topic.
30. Meditation gives a deeper connection to yourself.
This is no stranger to people who meditate frequently. When you practice being aware of your thoughts and feeling instead of mindlessly distracted by every single disturbance, you naturally forge a better connection with yourself.
31. Meditation increases self-confidence
Self-confidence is attractive. The thing with your mind is that it blasts us with a flurry of self-criticism and you believe that. With mindfulness practice, you are aware that these are passing thoughts and you do not hold on to them. Here’s what Andy Puddicombe of Headspace has to say.
Compiling this lengthy list of 31 Proven Benefits Of Meditation takes around 3 hours of furiously checking on the search engine, sorting, keeping track and writing. (Not to mention hunting for some interesting pictures). Meditation only takes 10 minutes a day to start.
If you are thinking to pick up meditation and you can’t find a local meditation guru, check out my review of Master Your Mind here. It’s one of the latest and growing online meditation course that has attracted working professionals.
Will you start practicing meditation if you have not? If you’ve been practicing, do share with us the benefits you have reaped from practicing meditation. Share your thoughts in the comments below.