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12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stress.
  • Researchers have found that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

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12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation

healthline.com

12

Key Ideas

Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stress.
  • Researchers have found that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.

Enhancing Self-Awareness

Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you to understand yourself better.

According to research, some forms of meditation can teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating.

Lengthening Attention Spans

Practicing focused-attention meditation may build your attention span.

  • Meditation may reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying and poor attention.
  • Studies found that four days of practicing meditation can increase attention span.

Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking through meditation may help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

A review of 12 studies found that meditation increased attention, memory and mental quickness in older participants.

Increasing positive feelings

Studies found that Metta, also known as loving-kindness meditation, increases peoples' compassion toward themselves and others.

Fighting Addictions

The mental discipline developed through meditation may help break dependencies.

Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention and control their emotions and impulses.

Improves Sleep

According to some studies, meditation can help you relax and control your thoughts. It can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Controlling Pain

Meditation can reduce your perception of pain. 

Meditating patients showed increased activity in the areas of the brain that control pain. 

Decreasing Blood Pressure

Meditation can increase heart function. 

Meditation reduces blood pressure during the time you meditate and also over time. Meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function.

Two Major Styles Of Meditation

  • Focused-attention meditation: Concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. 
  • Open-monitoring meditation: Encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought and sense of self.

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Understanding Stress
  • Dealing with Stress is imperative as it is unavoidable in modern life.
  • Our work, family and our finances create daily stress and other external factors (like politics and terrorism) co...
Your Perception About Stress

With stress, the mind and the body are intrinsically linked. You can view stress as something that is wreaking havoc on your body (and it can) or as something that is giving you the strength and energy to overcome adversity.

Exposure to Stress

Regular exposure to stress in small quantities can prepare us to handle a big stressful event in our lives. Prepare yourself for stress by self-education about the stressful event, by doing some physically stressful activities like completing a marathon, or something you dread, like giving a speech.

Repeated exposure to mildly stressful conditions can alter your body’s biological response to stress, making you manage stress in a better way.

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Loving-kindness meditation

Also known as Metta meditation; the goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything.
During meditation, practitioners send and repeat messages of loving-kind...

Body scan or progressive relaxation

The goal is to notice tension and to allow it to be released.
Practitioners start at one end of their body, usually their feet, and work through the whole. They might tense and then relax muscles or they might visualize a wave moving over their body to release tension.

Mindfulness meditation

It encourages practitioners to notice their surroundings without judgement, instead of dwelling on the past or future.

Mindfulness can be done almost anywhere, even in a grocery store, for example.

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Mindfulness Meditation

Practitioners of mindful meditation focus their attention on only one thought. The goal is to be firmly affixed to the present moment. This typically means concentrating on the breath - observ...

Changes to the Brain

Buddhists have meditated for literally thousands of years. Buddhists are trying to hack their own minds, to harness them.

Only in recent times have neuroscientists discovered that meditation changes the brain physically.

Health Benefits
  • Meditation improves attention. Studies show that 20 minutes a day are sufficient to get beneficial results.
  • Meditation reduces stress after eight weeks of training.
  • Meditation has also been shown to increase levels of empathy.
Mindfulness

... is a collection of practices aimed at helping us to cultivate moment-to-moment awareness of ourselves and our environment.

Meditation sharpens your attention

Meditation helps to counter our tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Other studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce mind-wandering and improve attention.

Larger randomized controlled trials are still needed to understand how meditation might work with other treatments to help people manage attention-deficit disorders.

Consistent meditation

Long-term, consistent meditation mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more sustainable way.

  • Practicing meditation reduces the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
  • Mindfulness practices help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. 

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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from...

Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Meditation
Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body.
Concentration meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. 

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. 

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns.

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Mindfulness in major religions

Instructions for mindfulness meditations have been found in ancient texts of nearly every major religion, but it's Buddhism that exemplifies best mindfulness meditation: it...

Meditation and healthcare

Meditation has drifted from its religious connections and has been adopted by psychologists, healthcare professionals and other secular organizations as an effective way to deal with the stress and illnesses of the modern world.

3 core components of meditation:
  • Awareness: Focus on developing awareness. 
  • Non-Judgement: Witnessing an experience or sensation without attachment or criticism.
  • Peace: Though your feelings are valuable, mindfulness teaches you how to find serenity despite them.

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Types Of Tai Chi

There are different styles of tai chi, each has a unique set of methods and principles, lineage, and date of origin. Some of these forms of tai chi lean towards health, while others stres...

Tai Chi Benefits
  • Fall reduction: tai chi helps to prevent trips and falls in the elderly. It also reduced the fear of falling among them and increased balance and posture.
  • Chronic pain: tai chi significantly impacts the chronic pain experienced with specific conditions, such as osteoarthritis of the knee and fibromyalgia. There is also evidence it decreases joint stiffness.
  • Chronic heart failure: tai chi was shown to improve maximum oxygen capacity in people who had heart attacks. And, although the evidence is inconclusive, tai chi seems to benefit areas of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Mental health and cognitive function: There is strong evidence showing beneficial effects on cognitive function. And, although scientific evidence is inconclusive, tai chi is associated with mindfulness and psychological well-being.
Tai Chi

Is a martial art safe for most people of all ages, as it does not put much stress on the muscles and joints. It combines gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.

Research indicates that tai chi may improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility while reducing pain and the symptoms of anxiety and depression in some cases.

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Mandalas as a form of mediation

Coloring a picture (especially the geometric circles known as mandalas) can be quite beneficial in relieving stress and anxiety.

Although it is a simple exercise, it really helps you ta...

What a Mandala is

Mandalas are sacred circles, that have long been used to facilitate meditation in the Indian and Tibetan religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. 

The main circle shape of a mandala is filled with a variety of geometric shapes and symbols. These are often repeated in symmetrical patterns using bold color schemes.

Mandalas as art therapy

People who color mandalas may feel a deep sense of calm and well-being. It's a simple tool that doesn't require any expertise, but it can be remarkably soothing.

Mandalas not only focus your attention but also allow you to express your creative side, which many of us neglect in our daily lives.

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Tai Chi

Tai chi is a traditional Chinese form of exercise based in martial arts that involves slow movements and deep breaths. 

Tai chi brings many physical and emotional benefits like de...

Benefits Of Tai Chi
  1. It may help with reducing stress, though most evidence is anecdotal. 
  2. Improves mood if you are depressed or anxious. 
  3. Better sleep as it may leads to a more restful sleep.
  4. Promotes weight loss.
  5. Improves cognition in older adults with cognitive impairment. More specifically, it improves memory and executive functioning skills.
  6. Reduces risk of falling in older adults by improving balance and motor function save and reducing fear of falling.
  7. Improves fibromyalgia symptoms.
  8. Improves COPD symptoms leading to improvements in ability to exercise and quality of life.
  9. Improves balance and strength in people with Parkinson’s.
  10. Safe for people with coronary heart disease.
  11. Reduces pain from arthritis and improves mobility.
Tai Chi and safety

Tai chi is generally a safe exercise with few side effects but it’s good to talk to a doctor before starting. Beginners may experience some aches or pains after practicing tai chi.

More rigorous forms of tai chi and improper practices are associated with increased risk of injury to joints. Especially if you’re new to tai chi, consider attending a class or working with an instructor to reduce your risk of injury.

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