16 Amazing Benefits of Meditation (According to Science)

16 Amazing Benefits of Meditation (According to Science)

You like the idea of meditation but wonder if it’s for you. 

Or maybe you gave it a try once and gave up. “Is it worth the effort?” you ask yourself?

The answer is “yes” if you would like more energy, better sleep  and increased access to intuition.

And, even more important, if you yearn for a calm, balanced and relaxed life, give meditation a try.

If you feel overwhelmed and anxious about the state of your life or the world, meditation can help.

Or try it if you suffer from stress related chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Studies show meditation can reduce stress and alleviate anxiety, depression, eating disorders and even addictions.

And these powerful benefits are only some of the ways science tells us meditation can improve your life.

According to research, it can also change your brain for the better and improve your focus and concentration, even in the midst of serious distractions (like say, a pandemic).

If you’re still wondering, the following list of meditation’s benefits (backed by science) will help you decide.

What are the Main Benefits of Meditation?

Meditation prepares you for all aspects of daily life whether job and business- related or personal.  Here are some of the many ways a daily practice can be life changing.

1. What if you were less stressed?

stressed man with piles of files on his desk

Cortisol is a hormone your body produces in the face of stressful events.

One of its functions is to suppress the roles of non-essential (for stress management purposes) functions like your immune, reproductive or digestive systems.

It does this so you can fight against or flee causes of stress.  If the situation is short-lived, your body’s systems return to normal. 

If stress persists, your body remains revved up and your immune, digestive and other systems don’t function like they should. How could they when they are perpetually suppressed.

The result can be chronic illness, sleepless nights, worry, depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, according to a study of medical students, meditation can help lower cortisol levels and give your body and mind a break.

2. What about blood pressure?

Doctor checks little girl's blood pressure

Meditation helps people relax.  Perhaps this is why studies show meditators often enjoy lower blood pressure than non-meditators. 

In one study, participants did mindfulness meditation for eight weeks while a control group attended health education sessions.  At the end of week eight the meditation group had significantly lower blood pressure scores than the control group.

3. Keep your heart healthy

The same stress that compromises your immune and digestive systems also raises your blood pressure and causes your heart to pump harder as it prepares you to fight or flee the stress.

Is it any wonder, given the stress that most of us experience on a daily basis, that heart attacks and strokes are common?

Meditation helps pause the flow of stress hormones and gives your heart and blood vessels a chance to rest.

4. Are you concerned about blood sugar?

girl meditating against blue background

Diabetes is increasingly common and impacts all aspects of a person’s life.  It also often contributes to the severity of coronary artery disease.

Is it possible that meditation can help? 

Studies show the answer could be yes. 

In one instance, 60 adults with diagnosed coronary artery disease were divided into two groups.  One group practiced meditation for six months, the control group did not.

After six months, the meditation group enjoyed significant decreases in blood sugar compared to the control group.

The non-meditators, on the other hand, had a significant increase in fasting serum insulin levels, a measure often associated with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

5. Meditation's deep impact

woman meditating on beach at sunset

The profound relaxation associated with meditation can change your body at a genetic and cellular level according to a Harvard study

Twenty-four people with high blood pressure were taught to achieve a “relaxation response,” using a form of meditation that included breath work and chanting a one word mantra. They practiced at home for eight weeks with a CD prepared for this purpose.

Over half of the participants enjoyed “a meaningful decrease in their blood pressure.”

And blood work indicated genetic level changes in those whose blood pressure dropped, compared to those for whom the relaxation training was not effective.

6. Lower inflammation

A surprising result of the Harvard study was observed changes in “172 different genes associated with inflammation, circadian rhythms and glucose metabolism” in those who enjoyed lower blood pressure after practicing meditation. 

In yet other research, meditation was associated with a reduction in Interleukin-6, (IL-6), which is a biomarker for inflammation.

older couple jogging

Since inflammation underlies many chronic illnesses from heart and cardiovascular issues to cancer and auto-immune conditions, these genetic level changes indicate meditation can be a useful part of their treatment. 

And of course it may also help healthier people stay that way.

7. Emotional balance

happy girl in field of red flowers with heart shaped sunglasses

Everyone experiences ups and downs as they go through life. 

Not everyone reacts to these changes in the same way.  If you are someone who is prone to react (or worse yet overreact) emotionally to life’s ups and downs, try meditation.

Researchers in one study had non-meditators listen to a daily meditation soundtrack 13 minutes a day for eight weeks.  A control group listened to a daily podcast 13 minutes a day for the same eight weeks

Results showed that, compared to the control group, the meditators experienced an improved outlook that resulted in a decrease in negative moods.  They also enjoyed an increase in attention and memory.

8. Stay younger longer

older man meditating with headset and closed eyes

Our ability to sustain attention typically declines as our brains age. 

However, a study that followed meditators over a 7 year period found that regular practice could lessen this decline.

In other research, scientists looked at three different indicators of cognitive decline associated with aging. While the study group listened to a meditation soundtrack, the control group listened to music, both for 12 minutes per day.

Results showed improvement in cognitive function as well as sleep, mood and quality of life for the meditation group.

9. Feel more alert

happy couple on the beach

Do you ever feel like you’re not fully present?  Maybe you’re not asleep, but you feel too tired to pay attention.  Or maybe you have trouble focusing, making it hard to be productive.

Instead, all you want to do is take a nap but you force yourself to keep working because you have a deadline or fear you may lose your job.

Can meditation help? 

In one study, participants underwent three months of meditation training (also called mental training). The scientists wanted to know if brains could be trained to pay attention. 

They concluded that “mental training can significantly affect attention and brain function.”

10. Love your job

woman working at computer with hands raised in joy

 

A recent study focused on whether meditation—delivered in 10-20 minute bites via smartphone—could help employees reduce job stress and blood pressure and feel more content over all.

At the end of eight weeks, the meditation group reported “significant improvement in well-being, distress, and job strain…compared to the control group.” 

In addition, along with decreased systolic blood pressure, the meditation group’s feelings about their colleagues changed for the better.  They reported they felt a greater sense of “social support.” 

11. Anxiety antidote?

Stressed out woman

People who have wandering minds can also be prone to anxiety, especially if their minds wander to fears about the future or regrets about the past.  “Could meditation help with mind wandering,” asked a group of scientists?

To explore this idea, they recruited highly anxious college students and assigned half to a meditation group, half to a control group.

Their results showed meditation helped the students stay focused on what was happening in the present moment.

While their mind wandering didn’t stop completely (no one’s does after all), the time spent there didn’t increase.

The study authors concluded these findings could be especially significant for “treating worrying in anxious populations.”

12. Pain relief?

lavender lotus with yellow center

Yes meditation can also help alleviate pain. And the pathways it follows may surprise you.

Experienced meditators were the subjects in a study focused on finding internal pathways used by meditation to reduce pain. 

The study subjects rated their reaction to the pain and unpleasantness of cold and results showed both were reduced after meditation.

In part two of the study, one group received intravenous naloxone (a drug designed to counter the impact of opioids to prevent overdose) and a second group received saline.  Results showed naloxone countered the pain relief associated with meditation.

This suggests meditation may access the same neural pathways as opioids.

13. Boost your immunity

healthy looking couple

One way meditation helps boost immunity is by lowering your stress level.  Turning down the fight or flight response allows your immune system to function like it was designed to do.

But you may also receive an immune system boost from genetic changes associated with meditation. 

An intriguing result came about from a study of 106 middle-aged men and women who attended an 8-day meditation retreat. Researchers drew blood samples before, after and during the retreat. 

Three months after the retreat's conclusion, the researchers discovered increased activity in 220 genes associated with immunity.   Among these were 68 genes specific to what is called “interferon signaling,” a process essential for defending against chronic conditions such as cancer, MS and COVID.

14. Happier in the moment

mother and daughter laughing

For centuries spiritual teachers have taught that being in the moment is the only way to find genuine happiness.  They also teach the value of meditation for this purpose.

Studies suggest that these teachers are correct.

In one of these, college students who enrolled in a semester-long meditation course experienced improvements in their well-being.

Brain research also supports this concept.

The alternative to feelings of well-being can be wandering minds, fear of the future, and regrets about the past.  Brain studies show these negative experiences activate parts of the brain called the default mode network (DMN).

If meditation helps practitioners be happier and more in the moment, its use should be associated with decreased activity in the DMN.

Research on how different meditation practices impact the brain supports this idea. Scientists found all of the practices associated with decreased activity in the DMN.

15. Greater self-awareness

mandala blue with lavender

Self-awareness is an essential component of happiness. 

Self-aware people can observe themselves, their thoughts and emotions and make decisions about what is best for them.  They are less influenced by what others think and believe than those who are less self-aware.

As a result they are better able to choose what makes them happy.

Meditation, with its inward focus, can help practitioners achieve higher levels of self-awareness

16. And there’s more

For even more insight on the benefits of meditation for everything from physical health to overcoming addictions, check out this article from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

What happens when you meditate every day?

Buddha hands with lotus

A daily meditation practice can help you achieve balance in what are called your dense dimensions: your physical body, your emotions and your mind. 

And balance in the dense dimensions gives you access to dimensions and experiences that are more subtle, like intuition.

Have you ever had a hunch about something and not taken action?  Maybe a thought pops into your head telling you to take an umbrella.  You ignore it when that thought doesn’t agree with the weather report.

Later when it’s pouring rain you tell yourself, “I just knew this was going to happen. Why didn’t I pay attention?”

We’ve all heard stories about people who avoided an accident by following a hunch to get off at an earlier than usual highway exit or found a terrific deal while shopping when they respected an urge to stop at a particular store.

Stories like these illustrate what is possible when you are alert to intuitive messages.  But if you are caught up in daily chaos and stress, you may miss them.

When you are in balance you remain calm and collected in the face of stress, which makes it easier to perceive intuitive messages.

Turning your focus within gives you a break from the ups and downs of daily life, improving your balance.

Meditation Techniques for Beginners & Others

Man in white shirt meditating

Meditation is a positive experience regardless of the technique you choose. (If you would like more information on how to meditate, click here.)

However, traditional meditation techniques are less effective than they once were. Today we live in a technology-based, modern world that is increasingly noisy and crowded.

And, often, technology is the source of our stress.   

On the other hand, technology can help us bring balance to the chaos.

For example, Synchronicity’s High-Tech Meditation utilizes precision, sonic entrainment technology. Practitioners who use this method receive benefits that once required meditating for hours a day in a remote place like a cave.

This makes it easier to enjoy meditation’s benefits while living a dynamic modern lifestyle. 

What are the Benefits of High-Tech Meditation?

What does High-Tech Meditation do to the brain? Can we even prove something is going on when we meditate?

With modern brain-imaging technologies, we can see the different structures of the brain respond to meditation, further proving what the ancients have been teaching us all along.

A comparison of the brain waves of Synchronicity High-Tech meditators with those of Buddhist monks using traditional low-tech methods is suggestive. 

Studies of Buddhist monks with five or fewer years of meditative experience consistently produced mid- to high-frequency alpha brainwaves (10 to 12 Hz.).

Those with ten to twenty years’ experience produced lower frequency alpha waves (7 to 9 Hz.).

Very experienced meditators with twenty to forty years’ experience consistently produced theta frequencies in the 5 to 6 Hz. range.

Interestingly, the researchers made no mention of Delta waves (0.5 to 3.5 Hz.), long considered to be the most recognizable sign of enlightened beings.

Contrast these results from low tech meditation systems with brainwave studies of participants in Synchronicity’s High-Tech Recognitions Program. 

The Synchronicity meditators had seven or fewer years of meditative experience.  The group included members of Synchronicity’s resident community as well as those out in the world with typical jobs, families and lifestyles. 

Most Recognitions beginners produced Alpha brain waves at 11 or 12 Hz, similar to patterns demonstrated by novice Buddhist monks.

More experienced Recognitions meditators experienced shifts in their Alpha brainwave patterns, the peaks becoming lower in frequency, larger in amplitude, and more persistent in time.

With even more experience, Recognitions meditators experienced more Theta brainwave patterns and developed Delta brain waves.

These results indicate that High-Tech Meditators (with seven or fewer years of practice) had brainwave patterns consistent with those using traditional techniques, but who had been meditating twenty years or more.

With consistent practice, both systems achieved similar results in the end.  But technology helped the Synchronicity meditators arrive there about four times as fast.

Ready to change your life?

A regular meditation practice can be life-changing.

You will feel calmer and more relaxed.  Maybe you no longer get angry when someone cuts you off while driving or when your best friend is late again for lunch.

The people you work with seem easier to get along with and you find you no longer have to be right about everything.

You also have more energy and health issues that have bothered you for years don’t seem quite so troublesome.

Perhaps it’s time to give meditation a try.

And for advice about how to get started, click here.

 

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