Benefits of Meditation

Benefits Of Meditation

The practice of meditation has been researched for a number of years now with new studies being performed nearly every week. The research consistently shows multiple neurological benefits from regular meditation including changes in the amount of grey matter of participants to improved connectivity between regions of the brain.

Alongside these amazing neurological benefits comes a number of psychological effects such as improved concentration, relief of anxiety and depression levels and enhanced psychological well-being.

Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits of meditation:

Meditation Helps Fight The Aging Process Of The Brain

Whilst overall life expectancy has been increasing over the years, the human brain still begins to deteriorate after the first two decades of life and continues to degrade with increasing age. Thus, any techniques that can counteract the negative impact of aging on the brain give us hope for the future.

A recent study [1] conducted in 2015 found that a group of 50 long-term meditators had better preserved brains than a group of 50 people who did not meditate. Those that had been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter throughout the brain.

Meditation May Lead To Beneficial Changes In Key Areas Of The Brain

A 2011 study [2] discovered that mindful meditation has the potential to change the structure of the brain. After only eight weeks of meditation an increase of cortical thickness in the hippocampus was found, which is responsible for memory and learning. The study also noted a decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which governs feelings of anxiety, stress and fear. These findings were backed up by the participants self-reports who noted lower stress levels. A follow up study was conducted in 2014 [3] and focused on participants after meditation training. The study found that changes in areas of the brain linked to arousal and mood were linked to improvements in the well-being of the participants.

Meditation Maybe As Effective As Anti-Depressants For Anxiety And Depression Alleviation

A study conducted in 2014 [3] looked at the relationship between mindful meditation and its ability to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain. The study found that mindful meditation was equal to antidepressants in combatting these symptoms. Whilst meditation on it own may not be enough to combat depression in some individuals it is a useful tool to help manage the symptoms of depression.

Meditation Improves Concentration

It’s not only children that have problems concentrating, it affects millions of adults too, including those with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). A recent study in 2013 [4] showed that after just 2 weeks of meditation training participants memory and focus was increased during the verbal reasoning section of the Graduate Record Examinations [5]. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given that one of the core aims of meditation is the focus of attention on breathing, an object, or an idea.

Meditation Improves Cardiovascular And Immune Health

Meditation promotes relaxation, which in turn increases the compound nitric oxide within the body, causing blood vessels to open up and subsequently, blood pressure to drop. A study conducted in 2008 on adolescent participants [6] confirms the beneficial effects of meditation of lowered blood pressure. In some cases, those with high blood pressure have been able to come off their blood pressure medication thanks to regular meditation sessions.

As we can see there are many benefits of meditation. Why not join a local meditation class and see what all the fuss is about?

References

[1] http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551/full

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3927233/

[4] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612459659

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduate_Record_Examinations

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3216041/