5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Meditation & How to Get Started
First, what is meditation?
The American Meditation Society describes it as “a simple and effortless process where you connect with the silence and peace within yourself”.
Basically it is a type practice that involves turning the mind and attention inward
Now let’s look at what the research has to say about the benefits of meditation.
#1 Meditation Reduces Psychological Stress, Depression and Anxiety
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University looked at 47 trials with 3515 participants and found that 2-6 months of meditation programs reduced the anxiety, depression and stress of participants.
#2 Meditation Reduces Physical Pain
A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that meditation is better than placebo for reducing pain:
75 healthy volunteers were randomly assigned 4 days of either: (1) mindfulness meditation, (2) placebo conditioning, (3) sham mindfulness meditation, or (4) book-listening control intervention.
The researchers “inflicted” pain on the volunteers in the form of thermal stimuli. Although all 4 groups experienced pain reduction, the group that underwent mindfulness meditation experienced significantly reduced pain intensity.
#3 Meditation Can Slow Alzheimer’s Disease
A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease randomly selected 60 older adults with subjective cognitive decline to beginner meditation for three months.
At 3 months, meditation significantly enhanced both subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance.
#4 Meditation Improves Working Memory
This has been shown in a study of 198 middle school children, who were randomly assigned either mindfulness meditation, hatha yoga, or were a control group.
A special computer program assessed the participants’ working memory before and after the intervention, and showed that the mindfulness meditation group had significantly greater improvement in working memory compared to the other groups.
#5 Meditation Boosts Immune System
A review of 20 randomized controlled trials examined the effect of mindfulness meditation on different biomarkers of the immune system that affect inflammation, immunity, and biological cell aging.
The researchers found that meditation was associated with decreased levels of proinflammatory proteins, increased immune cell count and increased activity of the enzyme telomerase, which is an enzyme that helps slow or reverse cell aging.
#6 Meditation Lowers Blood Pressure
A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association declares that based on the available evidence from the published literature, Transcendental Meditation technique lowers blood pressure and may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.
Ok, let’s go through some common questions you may have about meditation:
#1. I’m an atheist and/or not spiritual, can I still meditate?
Anyone can meditate. Meditation is not about religion or spirituality. It’s a technique or practice of training the mind, where you focus on a single thought, image, object, or feeling.
#2. How can I make the time to meditate in my busy schedule?
Meditation can be practiced anywhere and anytime.
You can meditate for 2 minutes a day if that’s all the time you have. No particular posture is required, as long as you’re comfortable.
#3. How often do I need to meditate?
The secret to gaining the benefits is to practice it regularly. You would need to meditate everyday in order to get into the habit and rip the benefits. But remember, all you need to start with is few minutes a day.
#4. How do I start?
Either find a local teacher in your area or Download an app like Calm or Headspace to your phone.