May 11, 2015
5 Science Backed Benefits of Meditation
For thousands of years, meditators have claimed many benefits for their practice. Now scientists are finding evidence supporting many of these claims. Regularly taking 10 to 20 minutes to unwind and focus on yourself is one of the greatest secrets to longevity. Meditation can help with stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved immunity, and improved cardiovascular function. It’s also going to make you feel better overall because you are disconnecting for all the stimulation of life.
Start experiencing these 5 benefits of meditation:
- Reduce Stress
Meditation for stress soothes our nervous system. While stress activates the “fight or flight” part of our nervous system, mindfulness meditation activates the “rest and digest” part of our nervous system, helping with stress management. Our heart rate slows, our respiration slows and our blood pressure drops. This is often called the “relaxation response”. While chronic activation of the fight or flight response can be extremely damaging to the body, the relaxation response is restorative, so meditation benefits our well being.
- Reduce Anxiety
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School taught mindfulness to a group of people with clinical levels of anxiety and found that 90% experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression too. (3)
- Boost Your Creativity
In 2012, scientists from the University of Groningen and North Dakota State University tested the theory that mindfulness affects awareness and the filtering out of other mental processes during creative tasks. Studying a larger number of volunteers, the researchers found that mindfulness practice predicted and improved “insight” problem-solving, which is “seeing” and solving problems in a novel way. This study was the first of its kind to document a direct link between mindfulness and creativity. (1)
- Improved Focus
Neuroscientists have also found that after 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control. Researchers have found that, compared with the people who didn’t meditate, ‘those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches’. (2)
- Improved Relationships
One of the many proven benefits of regular mindfulness meditation is that it improves relationships. You see yourself, your world and the people in your world in a new light. One US study of married couples found that increased mindfulness through meditation improved marital quality. It positively influenced the identification and communication of emotions, as well as regulating the expression of anger. (4)
- Ostafin, B. & Kassman, K. (2012). Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Consciousness and Cognition. 21, 2. 1031 -1036
- Tang, Y., Lu Q, Geng, X., Stein, E. A., Yang, Y., & Posner, M. (2010). Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107, 35. 15649-15652
- Kabat-Zinn, J. Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K,. Pbert, L., Lenderking, W. & Stantorelli, S. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 149. 936-943.
- Waches, K. & Cordova, J. (2007). Mindful Relating: Exploring Mindfulness and Emotion Repertoires in Intimate Relationships. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 33, 4. 464 – 481.