Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Meditation has many benefits that have been backed up by scientific research. It’s proven that meditation has a positive effect on health and wellbeing and can be used to manage a wide range of conditions from mental health problems to chronic diseases. Meditation will help to improve your outlook on life and will allow you to have greater focus.
If you’re interested in finding out how regular meditation can help you, read on. This article will look at the benefits of meditation. It will also give details of some scientific research and studies that have been done on the subject.
The Benefits of Meditation
One of the main reasons that people practice meditation is to help reduce stress. Many studies have been carried out over the last few decades, proving that meditation effectively reduces stress and eliminates stress-related chemicals in the brain.
A recent study carried out in San Francisco by the center for Wellness and Achievement in Education proved that people who practice transcendental meditation are less stressed. They are also likely to achieve greater success in their lives and studies than those who do not meditate regularly.
Transcendental meditation is a type of seated meditation that uses a mantra to settle the mind. A study showed that this type of meditation helps to balance the brain's chemistry. Meditators who were tested had lower levels of the molecule nuclear factor kappa B. This molecule helps to influence the regulation of gene expression.
Our bodies produce Kappa B molecules as a response to stress, whether this is stressors in our environment or emotional stress. This then activates cytokines, a series of molecules that contribute to mental and physical conditions, including cancer, inflammation, depression, and anxiety.
Meditators also have fewer stress hormones, such as cortisol, which makes them calmer and happier. Across the world, millions of people experience the benefits of meditation and other similar practices, such as deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness. Most people don’t realize that they are changing their bodies at a molecular level. This can also change the way our genetic coding works, making us healthier and happier.
Dr. Richa Sood said that the goal of meditation and mindfulness is to become an observer of your thoughts and your mind’s activity. It also helps you to become kinder to yourself. Rather than to try and stop thinking or clear your mind, which many people believe is what’s involved in meditation. She went on to explain that meditation allows people to create space in their lives. Take a deep breath and observe your thoughts and emotions non-judgmentally. Doing this can be an excellent way to lower stress.
Meditation and Mindfulness can Reduce Pain
Research that was recently published in a journal called Evidence-Based Mental Health says that meditation is just as effective as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) in reducing symptoms of chronic pain and helping sufferers manage symptoms of fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and arthritis. Meditation has been proven to improve pain and help patients manage their pain so that it doesn’t interfere with their lives as much. This also reduces psychological distress that’s often experienced by patients who suffer from chronically painful conditions.
Meditation can help improve people’s resilience, making them more able to cope with stress and improve their overall mental health. A study shows that meditation can help women who are experiencing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings due to menopause.
The brain is programmed to help people move away from pain and towards pleasure. However, for some people seeking pleasant feelings can become an addiction. The rate of drug and alcohol addictions is on the increase, and research has proven that meditation can help people to calm impulses that make them want to indulge and to gain greater self-control. A 2015 study found that meditation helped a large percentage of people to stop smoking or cut down their smoking after completing meditation and mindfulness training.
Research that was carried out in 2017 and published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology showed that meditation also helped people who were recovering from alcohol addiction. After completing meditation training, the average heavy drinker was able to cut their drinking by an average of 9.3 units a week.
Meditation can also help people whose goal it is to lose weight. Participants in a study became more aware of their eating-related impulses by regularly practicing meditation and mindful eating. This helped them to lose a significant amount of weight over time. A study shows that participants were able to lose an average of 6.6 pounds after attending meditation and mindfulness sessions. This was compared to people who hadn’t done any training who only lost an average of 2 pounds.
Sanam Hafeez, a psychologist from New York, says that “Meditation, when practiced regularly, can rewire the neural pathways in the brain,” Meditation can be used to help keep the brain functioning effectively and to help keep it young.
Research shows that meditating for just twenty minutes a day for a month is enough to start noticing the benefits. Of course, if you want to keep improving your health and wellbeing, you’ll need to make meditation a habit and continue for the rest of your life. Meditation also helps to maintain brain health and neuroplasticity. This is the capacity of brain cells to form new connections.
Studies that include participants who are long term meditators, in some cases, people who have been meditating for over seven years, found that meditators are better able to cope with stress and also have a better attention span.
People who meditate frequently are less likely to develop attention problems that often come with aging. Research published in the journal Mindfulness found that meditation and practicing mindfulness or yoga were associated with improved vigor.
Scientific research also has evidence that meditation and other similar practices may reduce the risk of developing dementia in later life. A study that was previously published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Its author, Dr. Helen Lavretsky, says that meditation is a straightforward, safe, and low-cost way of improving brain fitness.
As you can see, there are many health benefits to meditation. Meditation has proven to be an effective way of treating many mental and physical health conditions. It also helps to improve feelings of wellbeing. To get the full benefits of meditation, it needs to be practiced over a longer time frame, but you’ll likely start seeing results in just a few weeks.