The single greatest thing one can do for their mental health and physical well-being is to practice meditation. Meditation is a mental discipline of discovering yourself. It is a way to get into a deeper state of awareness, calamity, serenity, and to get to be with your inner self.
Meditation radiates a feeling of love and calmness. According to studies, meditation has significant therapeutic effects and improves the quality of life when practiced regularly. Meditation has been practiced for years. It is mostly practiced for relaxation, stress reduction, physical well being, and better health. (1)
There are many types of meditation, but their basic core elements are: a quiet place, comfortable posture, mindfulness, and an open attitude. Many theories are associated with how meditation works, but the most common one is that it reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which ultimately leads to a slower heart rate, slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and muscle relaxation. Meditation sounds simple, but sometimes it is an uphill battle. It takes time and practice to benefit from meditation. Daily meditation takes you to a journey of a happier and healthier life. There is a lot to talk about how wonderful meditation is, and here are a few scientifically-proven benefits of daily meditation.
Meditation helps reduce stress.
The greatest weapon against stress is our power to meditate. When there is peace and meditation, there is neither stress nor anxiety. Natural stress relief (NSR) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are the techniques used to reduce stress and anxiety by inducing a physiological state of deep rest. Regular practice of this mediation induces inner-peace, satisfaction, and calamity. Mindful meditation produces various changes in the central and autonomic nervous system that includes reduced stress hormone(cortisol) levels, improved positive mood states, and induced brain functional changes. (2)
Mindful meditation dampens activity in our amygdala (a part of the limbic system that controls emotions), which helps us to be less reactive to stressors. Meditation reduces the inflammatory response caused by stress and activates the body’s relaxation response. Mindful meditation is the key to reducing stress, gaining control over anxiety and living a stress-free life.
Helps regulate emotions and increase happiness
Research shows that meditation leads to better emotional regulation abilities. Studies have shown meditators to be more happier than the control group. Meditation can and does, increases happiness, and regulates emotions in the most calming way. When we meditate, it promotes positive thinking and improves overall emotional health. Meditation helps us to know who we are, and once we accept who we are, it radiates a devoted capacity within us, and increases happiness. Other emotional benefits of meditation include: (3)
- Reduces negative emotions and buildup positivity
- Enhances imagination and creativity
- Increases patience and tolerance
- Increases resilience in hard times
Increases grey matter concentration in brain
Grey matter includes regions of the brain that are involved in muscle control and sensory perception, such as seeing, hearing, emotions, memory speech, and decision making. The volume of grey matter reduces as we get older. Many studies showed that the grey matter concentration increases in areas of the brain involved in memory, learning, emotion regulation, and having perspective, in long term meditators. Meditation works most wonderfully and increases the grey matter concentration in the brain. It makes the grey matter grow, leading to increased emotional stability and sensory perceptions.
Improves memory and self-awareness
Long term meditation increases grey matter in areas associated with memory, learning, compassion, and self-awareness. It enhances rapid memory recall. Those who meditate daily have a higher capacity to store important memory from the working memory into long term memory, hence improving intelligence. Memory has also shown to decrease memory loss symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. (4)
Meditation increases the ability to focus and develops attention
Meditation improves cognition and increases your ability to focus, without getting your mind wandered. Mindful meditation helps us reach a flow state where your mind is in complete harmony with itself. A study on eight-week meditation revealed that people who meditated had heightened attention and concentration span. It absorbs you into the moment and decreases attention towards unwanted environmental stimuli. It prevents distractions and increases the ability to focus by inducing a state of calm.
Meditation and pain
A study found that mindful meditation reduces pain sensations in the body without using the body’s natural tranquilizers. Dealing with pain is a part of everyone’s life, and meditation helps to reduce it by inducing increased activity in the part of the brain that manages pain. (5)
Improves heart health and reduces blood pressure
Meditation is a great stress-reducer, which is a major risk factor for hypertension. It can be considered as an add-on to other treatments to reduce hypertension. Meditation helps in controlling the blood pressure that rises during stress. As a result, it reduces the chances of high blood pressure and stress-induced cardiac arrest.
Slows down aging
One of the main reasons meditation slows the aging process is because it reduces stress. Have you noticed people who stay stress-free and have a positive attitude towards life, tend to look younger? The stress hormone, cortisol, reduces the activity of telomerase, an enzyme that is related to the aging process. However, Constant meditation reduces cortisol levels, triggers the relaxation response, and ultimately slows aging.
What are the main health benefits of meditation?
Meditation reduces stress, which itself is related to many health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, GI problem, diabetes, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Minimizing stress through meditation ultimately leads to less occurrence of these diseases. Meditation is also proven to improve the immune system and inflammatory disorders.
What are the main spiritual benefits of meditation?
Meditation brings inner peace and calm. It awakens positive feelings and a state of constant happiness. The ultimate purpose of meditation is to awaken your true self. (6)
In a nutshell, meditation is undoubtedly one of the best ways to calm storms within us and dissolve the oceans of unawareness. It opens the real power of our minds and enhances the quality of life by giving us permanent access to happiness, mental peace, and life energy. Meditation helps our minds settle in the “now”, and allow us to see the beauty of the present.
- Horowitz S. Health benefits of meditation: What the newest research shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2010 Aug 1;16(4):223-8.
- Chu LC. The benefits of meditation vis‐à‐vis emotional intelligence perceived stress and negative mental health. Stress and Health: Journal of the International Society for the Investigation of Stress. 2010 Apr;26(2):169-80.
- Schreiner I, Malcolm JP. The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation: Changes in the Emotional States of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Behavior Change. 2008 Aug 1;25(3).
- Newberg AB, Wintering N, Khalsa DS, Roggenkamp H, Waldman MR. Meditation effects on cognitive function and cerebral blood flow in subjects with memory loss: a preliminary study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2010 Jan 1;20(2):517-26.
- Zeidan F, Grant JA, Brown CA, McHaffie JG, Coghill RC. Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain. Neuroscience letters. 2012 Jun 29;520(2):165-73.
- Hutcherson CA, Seppala EM, Gross JJ. Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion. 2008 Oct;8(5):720.