Everybody seems to be meditating. An ancient tradition that was often synonymous with Buddhist monks, meditation has taken the world by storm and it is continuously spoken about in everyday conversations with many people asking, “so how often do you meditate?”
Countless articles have been written about the practice which encourages you to develop an inner state of awareness in an effort to encourage inner peace. Now with that said, one has to wonder what the actual benefits of meditation are? Yes, it can help you relax but is all the buzz surrounding it worth it? What benefits can it really provide?
Read on for the scientifically proven mediation and why there’s more to the practice than just loose yoga pants and chanting ‘om’.
Proven benefits of meditation
#1: It helps to reduce stress
Stress is normal – it’s the body’s natural response to unforeseen problems, and we all experience it. The problem, however, is when that stress becomes chronic and begins to affect our health. Chronic stress means high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and this then translates to a heightened risk for depression, heart disease, and even obesity.
It’s clear that chronic stress levels are a problem, but meditating can help to address the issue. It appears that meditating can help to calm you down and effectively reduce stress levels (1).
#2: It helps to reduce high blood pressure
With the fast-paced, stressful lives that we live, it’s no wonder that high blood pressure is such a problem. In fact, around 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension.
However, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension found that participants with high blood pressure experienced a reduction in blood pressure levels after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training.
#3: It will help you sleep better
When you’re stressed, the body increases your levels of adrenaline. This can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Aside from leaving you tired and cranky, lack of sleep can also make you more vulnerable to infection and disease.
If you’re battling with getting some good, quality sleep then you may want to include meditation in your bedtime routine. Meditation can make it easier for you to fall asleep by placing you in a peaceful state.
In fact, a recent study linked mindfulness meditation to significantly improved sleep quality. In addition to setting up your bedroom for better sleep, it may be time to end the day with meditation.
#4: It can help with addiction recovery
Addictions are rooted in the fact that, when we feed our addictions, our brain releases endorphins which are happy chemicals that provide a high. Unfortunately, we soon come down from a euphoric state. Our addictions then become stronger and harder to break as we go in search of our next fix.
That said, meditation has been found to boost the levels of dopamine, an endorphin. Therefore, it is suggested that meditation can be part of addiction treatment and recovery. For instance, a study with recovering alcoholics found that meditation training helped them to better control their cravings and craving-related stress.
Furthermore, those battling with quitting cigarettes may want to look at meditation. A study revealed a 60% reduction in smoking 2 weeks after participants had engaged in a total of 5 hours of 30-minute mindfulness meditation sessions.
#5: It can increase libido
If your sex life has taken a bit of a hit, meditation can help bring the spark back.
A 2018 study published in the journal found that, when compared to women who didn’t meditate, women who did meditate had higher scores when it came to sexual function, lubrication, orgasm, and desire.
So, if you’re struggling with your time between the sheets, why don’t you and your partner try out couples’ meditation?
#6: It can help to improve your attention span
If you battle with a wandering mind, and your attention span isn’t the best, perhaps you could look at meditation. As it practices focus, meditation may help to improve your attention span.
In fact, research has suggested that your improved attention may last up to five years after mindfulness meditation training.
#7: It can make you more compassionate.
Loving-kindness meditation (Metta) is a type of meditation that focuses on mental processing and empathy.
Research has found that this type of meditation can help to make people more empathetic (3).
This can also come in handy in relationships. According to a 2017 study, couples who meditate together not only feel closer, but they’re also more open with each other.
#8: It can help alleviate pain
With the opioid crisis still causing havoc, it’s important to find ways to alleviate pain and it appears that meditating can help.
A 2017 study found that after just 10 minutes, participants noted a significant increase in pain thresholds and pain tolerance.
Researchers believe that meditating helps to thicken the area of the brain that regulates pain, and in doing so, it reduces your sensitivity to pain and your need for pain relievers (4).
#9: It can help to improve cognitive thinking
If you’re looking for a bit of a brain boost during the day, try finding a quiet spot to meditate.
A 2018 study published in the journal Nature found that meditating for just 10 minutes can help to boost your cognitive function by improving your concentration and your ability to keep information active. Additionally, if you really want to boost your brain health, you can try to include more brain-boosting foods in your diet.
#10: It can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s
There are a few ways for older adults to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s, and meditation is one of them.
For a 2018 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers recruited a group of older adults experiencing memory difficulties. They had them either spend 12 minutes out of their day either listening to music or engaging in simple yoga meditation for a period of 12 weeks. After comparing the participants’ blood samples from before and after the study, the researchers noted improved levels of certain markers with associations to cell aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
#11: It can help to improve your mental health
Cytokines are chemicals that are released by our bodies in response to stress. Unfortunately, these chemicals can increase our risk of depression (5). If you’re battling with your emotions, then it may be advisable to take time out of your day to meditate. Doing so may lead to a more positive outlook on life (6).
Additionally, meditation can also help moms with postpartum depression. Research published in the Electronic Physician journal found that meditation not only improved the moods of new moms but it also helped them in developing a secure connection with their newborns.
A separate study published in Experimental Biology found that a single mindfulness mediation session helped to significantly reduce anxiety levels.
12: It’ll boost your immune system
The strength of our immune system has never been a bigger priority than it is now, and research suggests that meditation may help to play a role.
For instance, one study found that meditation can help stimulate T-cell activity in HIV patients. That said, there are plenty of other ways you can naturally strengthen your immune system.