Meditation is increasing in popularity as more people are experiencing the benefits of this timeless practice. Ongoing research is discovering that the scientific benefits of meditation include physical and emotional improvements in wellbeing in a variety of areas.
According to an 8 week study published in Science Direct, mindfulness meditation is particularly effective at reducing the inflammation response of stress. Other studies have found a correlation between meditation and the improvements in stress related conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Meditation is often a doctor recommended stress management technique with positive outcomes.
Another of the scientific benefits of meditation is management of the symptoms of clinical depression, as well as supporting an overall more positive outlook on life. Self-esteem and self-awareness are also reportedly higher in those who practice meditation. Both depression and anxiety respond favorably to meditation when practiced regularly, even for those diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder or clinical depression.
For those who struggle with sleep, meditation can provide welcome relief. Whether you have an occasional restless night or experience chronic insomnia, one of the scientific benefits of meditation is improvements in this crucial area of your health. By reducing racing thoughts and releasing tension, your body and mind are better prepared for a good night of sleep. The ripple effect to good sleep is improvements to your mood and reduced stress.
The scientific benefits of meditation go beyond the emotional improvements noted in its positive impact on depression and anxiety. The Mayo Clinic lists the following physical improvements observed in some of the research:
- Chronic pain
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep problems
- Tension headaches
Mayo does suggest having a conversation with your doctor before choosing meditation as treatment for some of these conditions since some of them can worsen with this practice.
One of the least controversial scientific benefits of meditation is that it provides greater clarity, a stronger attention span, and better ability to problem-solve. Since the purpose of meditation is to practice the skill of attentiveness, these favorable outcomes are expected. Research shows that intensive meditation training can have a positive impact on attention for up to five years, which is encouraging for those who invest in this practice.
Research has shown that a specific kind of meditation called loving-compassion meditation makes us less self-oriented and more compassionate toward others as we see beyond ourselves. Other studies have shown that altruistic behavior improves with meditation training and cultivates the ability to understand the suffering of others by altering brain activity associated with suffering and activating circuits in the brain connected to good feelings and love.
The scientific benefits of meditation continue to emerge and support the anecdotal accounts that are prevalent among those who advocate for it. As the medical and research communities accept the discoveries, more people are likely to find relief for a variety of emotional and physical wellbeing issues.