What are the benefits of meditation
There are so many benefits of meditation that scanning through a list of potential outcomes you might be forgiven for asking what doesn’t it help with? Yup, even world peace is more likely if we all meditate! But for now, I suggest a more reachable goal, one that is closer to home; why not meditate to enhance you? Need a few good reasons to take meditation seriously, try my favourite benefits below:
Meditation helps us sleep better. Sleep is essential to our physical and emotional wellbeing as well as our cognitive functioning and so it makes sense, that anything that aids a restful night’s sleep is a good thing. Anyone who has ever experienced sleep deprivation, whether through anxiety, a snoring partner or being a new parent will know how debilitating it is. The science says lack of sleep can affect our overall health and making us prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as exacerbate anxiety and depression. Regular uninterrupted sleep is a contributor to staying slim, increasing fertility and an increased sex drive!
Meditation slows aging. Studies show that meditation changes brain physiology to slow aging; preserving cognition and showing meditators to have more brain cells. There is even a study that shows that those who meditate have longer telomeres (the caps on chromosomes which provide a guide to biological age), leading the researcher to conclude that meditation reduced stress and its effects on the body.
Meditation enhances your love life. If you understand and recognise your own emotions and those of others, you are more likely to have some of the skills for a good relationship. Studies have shown those who meditate have an improved ability to [permanently] regulate emotions in the brain, and that those who practice it report greater marital satisfaction than those who don’t. And it’s not just partners who stand to gain, a study in the journal of Psychological Science shows that meditation make us more compassionate, better listeners and less judgmental – so all round better people!
Meditation helps us achieve our goals. I especially like this one as the thought of employing the 10000 hours of practice rule to become really good at something has the effect of stopping me from even trying! But neuroscientists are now identifying that high achievers in a number of fields have in common enhanced levels of brain integration; in effect that having strong connections between different areas of the brain leads to heightened attention and quick responses.
Research has been able to show that meditation causes changes in the brain waves that leads to improved brain functionality; things like an increased ability to multi-task, to focus and to improve memory
Meditation improves our health. By inducing relaxation, meditation increases the compound nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and in doing so allows our blood pressure to drop. And it doesn’t stop there! There is also evidence that it improves our immunity allowing us to stay well more of the time. Some argue that simply by meditating we are more likely to practice a healthy lifestyle, whether it is as a result of mantra like “do no harm” or “my body’s a temple” or because we use it to practice more mindful ways of living which impact on, how we eat for example.
Which leads nicely onto meditation helps prevents us from overeating. Studies have shown that mindful eating including a level of daily meditation resulted in participants maintaining weight (against a control that experienced weight gain) alongside lower cortisol levels. And the lower cortisol levels as well reductions in stress correlated with reduction in abdominal fat.
And last, but by no means least, meditation helps us worry less and feel happier. This can work for all of us, but also for those with diagnosed anxiety disorders or depression. The evidence is that meditation can help us manage worries and general irritability, and in studies of depression symptoms, a 10-20 per cent improvement has been demonstrated, which is on a par with the effect of a medicalised solution of antidepressants. Meditation is linked to increased brain activity in the left side of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for positive emotions with a corresponding decrease in the right side of the brain which is associated with negative emotions.
So there you have it, if you want to cultivate a you that is more successful, healthier, a you that is less anxious, more rested and relaxed, more attentive and engaged and a you that smiles a whole lot more, then I suggest you get meditating!