The benefits of meditation span across every aspect of bodily, psychological, and emotional health. While meditation remains an area of ongoing research, studies have already found promising results regarding the positive effects of the practice.
Meditation can have a drastic impact on health, overall wellbeing, and quality of life. Here are some of the ways in which meditation can be a powerful tool in your life:
Studies shows that meditation may actually have measurable physical and anatomical effects on the brain, thereby improving current health problems and promoting future health.
Consistent long-term meditation is correlated with more physical folds in the tissues in the outer layers of the brain, which is believed to lead to easier and quicker cognitive information processing, better memory, and better attention. Other research shows that meditation can slow, stop, or even reverse brain aging, and that it can lead to better connectivity between networks of cells in the brain.
As anyone who practices yoga may have felt or knows to be true, mindfulness and body awareness feels amazing. Our DNA actually opens to this positivity rather than contracting from stress.
One study found that meditation-related activities such as yoga and breath regulation had the opposite effect of chronic stress on gene expression in the body, thereby leading to a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases.
Further, by changing certain pathways in brain activity, meditation can reduce the cognitive and psychological effects of stressors to boost psychosocial wellbeing, resulting in better functioning of the immune system. Meditation can also help control pain in the body, even in individuals with chronic illness. In fact, it can act as both a primary and supplemental strategy in the prevention and management of chronic illness.
Dozens of studies have found that meditation consistently reduces and improves anxiety symptoms. Meditation also has the power to alter the biological makeup of affective disorders like depression, thereby having antidepressant effects during both the meditative and resting states.
Furthermore, it has been proven to be an effective treatment for psychiatric illnesses like post-traumatic stress disorder. Mediation has even been shown to help people beat addictions, acting, for instance, as a powerful tool in helping smokers quit.
Meditation can play a role in the relief and regulation of everyday emotional health struggles, such as stress, as well. A combination of yoga and mediation, for instance, has been found to lessen stress, anxiety, and promote overall better mindfulness skills, even when practiced as infrequently as once a week.
Mediation has been used for centuries in order to discipline the attention span, regulate emotions, bring about mindfulness, and foster self-awareness. It can even have positive effects on mood and self-esteem.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are, thankfully, a great many free resources out there. Check out my one-week meditation series, or view my profile with Insight Timer, a platform where I record my own guided meditations!
Meditation retreats can also be an amazing, albeit all-in, way to experience the benefits of meditation. I attended my first 10-day silent meditation retreat in 2013, and have continued to meditate ever since, with admittedly sporadic dedication. You can read more about retreats here.
But I can see a clear benefit to meditating, and am working towards a more dedicated practice. I know that for most of us, it will make sense to start on our own couches, beds, floors, or under a tree, and breathe in and breathe out…