10 BENEFITS OF MEDITATION BASED ON SCIENCE
Aggiornato il: 23 ott 2020
It is a fact proven by thousands of scientific researches: meditation is good for our health, both physical and psychological.
In general, meditation is a practice in which an individual trains his attention and awareness, and reaches a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state, thus coming into contact with our natural state of pure peace and fulfillment, which is called Parashanti in sanskrit.
You can use it to increase self-awareness and life-awareness. It is also practiced to stimulate one's own positivity and creativity, improve mood and sleep, eliminate anxiety and stress, and much more.
Meditation is not suitable just for monks or people who have a lot of free time, if there were still doubts about it. It is suitable for everyone.
Not only it is highly recommended to its employees in companies like Google and Facebook, but it is practiced by many successful and tremendously busy people like Raymond Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund that manages assets worth 150 billion of dollars; Oprah Winfrey, in whose company every single day at 9 am and 4 pm, for 20 minutes, she and her 400 employees stop whatever they are doing to meditate; professional athletes like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant who claim that meditation cleans their mind and helps them perform better, and the list could go on and on with Eva Mendes, Marc Benioff, Roberto Baggio, Orlando Bloom, Michael Jordan, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Jackmann, Arianna Huffington, Paul McCartney, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, and I could really go on for a long time, but I'd say it's better to continue with the article.
We all agree if we say that these people are much more busy and have more responsibility than the average person. Yet they always manage to find time to meditate, and there is one reason in particular why they continue to do so: it works, meaning it gives astonishing benefits!
These are some of the effects of meditation together with the related international researches that have been made over the last 30 years. We will consider only 10 benefits of meditation because if we were to mention all of them, we would need to publish some books.
So, why should you practice it?
1. It reduces stress
Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons why people start practicing meditation.
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton of Stanford University Medical School, stress is responsible for 95% of the diseases and this is why it is called the "silent killer": you get older faster, the immune defenses are lowered, the brain tissue shrinks, thus leaving an easy game, among other things, to anxiety and depression.
Normally, mental and physical stress causes an increase in cortisol levels, the stress hormone. This promotes the release of chemical substances, called cytokines, which stimulate the body's inflammation. These cytokines can interrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, and increase blood pressure.
In an eight-week study conducted on 3515 patients, the daily practice of a meditation style called "conscious meditation" reduced the inflammatory response caused by stress. This research has shown that meditation can also improve the symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia. (1)
As underlined by countless studies, including an 8 weeks study with MRI brain scan at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the amygdala, the brain region that mediates stress responses, is "cooled" and deactivated during and after meditation.
By reducing the fear center of the brain, stress drops down and health and the immune system skyrocket. (1.1)
Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress substantially. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with medical conditions triggered by stress.
2. It reduces anxiety
Less stress translates into less anxiety
For example, a study of 174 people that has taken place in 8 group sessions together with individual daily meditation practice, helped participants reduce anxiety and chronic pain.
It has also reduced the symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks (2).
Another study followed 22 volunteers three years after completing an eight-week meditation program. Most volunteers continued to practice regular meditation and maintained lower anxiety levels over the long term (3).
Meditation regularly practiced helps reducing anxiety and mental health problems related to anxiety, such as social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
3. It improves emotional intelligence and defeat depression
Emotional intelligence is an aspect of intelligence connecteded to the ability to recognize, use, understand and consciously manage one's own and others' emotions.
Some forms of meditation can also lead to a better self-image, greater self-esteem and a more positive view of life, therefore improving one's emotional intelligence.
One study followed 18 volunteers while practicing meditation for three years and found that participants experienced a long-term reduction of depression (4.2).
Inflammatory particles called cytokines, which are released by our body in response to stress, can affect our mood, leading to depression. Numerous studies suggest that meditation can reduce depression by decreasing these inflammatory substances (5).
Another study also compared the electrical activity between the brains of people who practiced meditation and the brains of others who did not.
Those who meditated showed measurable brain activity changes in areas related to positive thinking and optimism (6)
Meditation can improve mood and create a more positive view of life. Researches show that practicing meditation constantly can help you maintain these long-term benefits.
4. It improves sleep quality
Almost half of the population has had problems related to insomnia at least once in their life.
One study tested two meditation programs by dividing the participants into two groups. One group practiced the suggested meditation techniques, while the other did not.
The participants who meditated fell asleep earlier and a higher quality of sleep was also measured, compared to those who did not meditate (7).
Meditating can help you control or redirect negative thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Moreover, it can help you relax the body, releasing tension and encouraging a peaceful state thanks to which it is easier to fall asleep.
Meditation can help you relax and let go of negative thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can reduce the time needed to fall asleep and increase the quality of sleep, therefore improving also your daily life.
5. It improves relationships with others
It has been scientifically proven that if you meditate, you develop a clearer view of life and it's easier to improve interpersonal relationships. This is because it improves the ability to empathize with others, thus refining our ability to collect signals and perceive how others feel. Meditation also increases emotional stability, allowing us not to depend on other people's judgment. (8) (8.1)
6. It improves the ability to make decisions
Recent studies suggest that months or years of intensive and systematic meditation practice can improve attention.
The experiment shows that the group assigned to 5 days of meditation practice with the body-mind integrative training method shows significantly better attention and stress control than a group that had undergone a simple relaxation practice. The resulting clarity is directly reflected in the greater efficiency of the decision-making process. (9) (9.1)
7. It boosts the immune system
The study showed that those who attended disciplines such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation or Yoga for at least four weeks, had a stronger immune system than those who did not exercise. (10)
8. It reduces physical and emotional pain (even more effective than morphine!)
An experiment conducted by researchers from North Carolina showed that meditation can even make people feel less pain.
People were asked to evaluate both the intensity of the pain and their emotional response to that pain. The scans performed on those who practiced the correct breathing and relaxation techniques showed that the regions of the brain that respond to pain were strangely calm, and even turned off during the meditation.
Previous research, led by Dr. Zeidan and reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, has indicated that opioid morphine reduces physical pain by 22%. But from the meditation group it emerged that the intensity of the pain was reduced by 27%, and by 44% for to the emotional aspect of the pain. In contrast, a placebo cream reduced the sensation of pain by 11% and the emotional aspect by 13%. (11)
9. It improves the cardiovascular system's health and tends to lower blood pressure
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans every year.
A study conducted on 103 patients with coronary heart disease showed that vedic meditation practiced for 16 weeks improved the components of blood pressure and insulin resistance of the metabolic syndrome, as well as the cardiac autonomic nervous system tone, compared to a control group that did not meditate.
These results suggest that vedic meditation can modulate the physiological response to stress and improve the risk factors for coronary heart disease, which may represent a new therapeutic target for the treatment of coronary heart disease. (12)
10. You can meditate anywhere
This is not an actual benefit like the other 9 mentioned, but it is worth mentioning.
Infact it is extremely valuable, living in a society with such hectic pace, to be able to use a tool for our psychophysical well-being without having to depend on someone or something like particular equipment or specific places. You can start exercising with the simplest techniques by practicing even a few minutes a day.
There are different types of meditation, for example meditation focused on:
- a single object
- a thought
- a mantra
- the breath
- a sound
- a visualization
- non-judgmental observation of one's thoughts
If your work and/or home environment don't allow you to spend time alone and in peace, consider attending an online lesson. This can also improve your chances of success thanks to a personalized advice.
Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of the morning's peace. So you can start developing a constant positive habit and begin your day in a brilliant way.
Meditation is something that everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health.
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If you wish to accelerate your progress and if you truly want to make a real change in your life, visit our website www.parashanti.com and book a free consultation so that together we decide the best strategy.