Meditate for your Health and Wellbeing
Extensive scientific research has shown meditation can positively impact mental and physical health. Whether it’s by reducing stress, improving sleep, increasing focus, or improving relationships, science shows practicing meditation works.
At Emerald Wellness we believe a habitual meditation practice can do wonders for your health, and we believe this for good reason. There are thousands of quality medical studies which highlight the amazing health benefits of meditation. Whether you are dealing with chronic health issues, psychiatric problems- such as anxiety or depression, or just want to reduce stress and improve focus in your life, meditation can be an extremely powerful tool.
This article will examine 8 scientifically proven benefits of meditation.
8 Scientific benefits of meditation
1 - Promotes Emotional Health
It is becoming more evident everyday that our emotional health is strongly linked to our physical and mental health. Meditation can be useful for helping us sculpt a more positive outlook on life and an improved self-image.
Comprehensive studies involving over 1000 participants have found that a habitual meditation practice is able to significantly decrease symptoms of depression.
Another study compared the electrical brain wave activity between individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation and those who did not. It was discovered that those who meditated demonstrated measurable changes in brain activity related to positive thinking and optimism.
When you are dealing with stress, your body releases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can affect mood and lead to depression. A review of several studies suggests that meditation may be able to reduce symptoms of depression by inhibiting the release of these stress chemicals.
2 - Increases Attention Span
Mindfulness mediation can be likened to working out your attention span. It is fundamentally able to strengthen your ability to focus.
One study, examined the effects of an 8-week mindfulness meditation course and found it was significantly able to improve participants ability to maintain their attention.
A similar study revealed that employees whom practiced regular meditation stayed focused on a task for a longer duration of time. These employees also better remembered details of their tasks compared to those whom did not meditate. So, if you an employer it may be in your interest to have your workers participate in meditation practices to increase productivity.
The benefits of meditation for attention span can even be realized in a short amount of practice time. One study demonstrated that just 4 days of practicing meditation was enough to procure increases in an individuals attention span.
3 - Meditation can improve Sleep Quality
You are a lucky individual if you don’t struggle with bouts of insomnia at some point in your life. In fact nearly half the population reports having difficulties sleeping during their life.
Researchers compared the effects of a mindfulness meditation program on a group of individuals to a group who did not meditate. The participates who engaged in meditation were able to fall asleep quicker and had better quality sleep compared to those who did not meditate.
It is thought that developing a meditation practice allows you to control and quiet runaway thoughts which often lead to insomnia. Furthermore, meditation often relaxes the body and mind which brings about a state of being which is more conducive to falling asleep.
4 - Meditation Reduces Stress
One of the primary reasons people gravitate towards meditation is its stress reduction capabilities. Todays demanding and digitally connected world often has our nervous system in a constant state of “fight or flight” with little time to wind down.
A large study examining the effects of meditation on over 3,500 adults found that meditation’s reputation for stress reduction is well-deserved.
Mental and physical stress is often correlated with elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increase inflammation. Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, cause fatigue, induce brain fog, and increase blood pressure. Not a good state of affairs. Fortunately, studies have found that mindfulness meditation can reduce the inflammation responses caused by stress.
Research also Indicates that meditation may be able to help with stress related chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, PTSD, and irritable bowel syndrome.
5 - Meditation helps control Anxiety
More often than not less stress directly translates into less anxiety.
Meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, phobias, paranoid thoughts, and panic attacks.
Furthermore, a large study of 2.466 individuals demonstrated that a variety of meditation practices were often effective in reducing levels of anxiety.
It makes sense that meditation is able to lesson anxiety in individuals since anxiety by definition is often worrying about the future. Meditation teaches you to habitually focus on the present moment.
6 - Meditation Enhances Self-Awareness
Certain forms of meditation may help you develop self-awareness and a more positive understanding of your thoughts and emotions.
For example meditation can help individuals recognize self-defeating and harmful thoughts. When you become skilled in recognizing negative thought patterns which do not serve you it is easier to let them go and construct more positive cycles of thought. This positive self-awareness is crucial for healing and improving mental wellbeing.
A study of 40 older individuals demonstrated that engaging in mindfulness meditation reduced feeling of loneliness compared to the control group.
7 - Meditation can help Control Pain
Pain is an interesting phenomenon since it has both physical and mental attributes. Your perception of pain is deeply connected to your state of mind, and stressful conditions can actually increase your feelings of pain.
A study used brain imaging techniques to observe participants as they were introduced to a painful stimulus. Before this some of the participants underwent 4 days of mindfulness meditation training, where as the control group did not. The patients who meditated showed increase activity in areas of the brain associated with controlling pain and also reported less sensitivity to pain.
Furthermore, a larger study examined the effects of habitual meditation in, 3,500 individuals. It revealed that those who practiced meditation were less likely to have complaints of chronic or intermittent pain in their lives.
It is amazing that when individuals are experiencing the same causes of pain, those who meditate have a fundamentally different experience of the exact same stimuli. They are better able to cope with pain and experience reduced sensations of pain.
8 - Meditation can Reduce Blood Pressure
It is also evident that practicing meditation can improve your physical health as well by reducing strain on the heart. Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder which can result in poor function. High blood pressure also contributes to heart attacks and strokes.
A study found that when individuals meditated by concentrating on a silent mantra- sometimes called transcendental meditation- they were able to reduce their blood pressure by and average of 5 points. This result was seen to be more effective in older individuals who already had high blood pressure.
A review revealed that several types of meditative practices are able to yield similar reductions in blood pressure.
It is thought that meditation is able to control blood pressure by relaxing the ‘fight or flight response in the nervous system and tension in blood vessels. It is pretty amazing the we can directly affect the health of our physical bodies through thought alone.
These are just a a few of the vast array of health benefits a habitual meditation practice can bring to your life. At Emerald Wellness we believe strongly in utilizing meditation for improving health and well-being. There are a number of great resources on the internet which can teach you how to begin meditating. We often recommend to start slow with just 5 minutes a day and work up to longer periods of time.