8 Benefits of Meditation

8 Benefits of Meditation

You may live your life like many others. Running, running, running and never seeming to get anywhere as there is always so much to do. Eventually, such a frantic schedule could take its toll with medical practitioners prescribing all sorts of things to calm you down; attempt to fix a stress related health challenge; or both.

The word meditation may make you roll your eyes and dismiss it as some sort of guru activity you have no time to even consider. Well, you may want to re-think your views toward these 8 benefits of meditation as science begins to back its startling effects.

Re-Brain

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School began meditation and yoga after a personal bout with pain from running.

Doctors told her to stop running so she decided to try the meditative as well as stretching therapy yoga offered. Given her occupation, she naturally became curious on how meditation affected the brain.

She began a research study and as reported by the Washington Post (5/26/15), Dr. Lazar comments on some of the results meditation had on the brain:

“It stands to reason your senses would be enhanced…We found long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex…We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making…50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.”

Age Defier

Meditation has been found to actually slow down aging. As mentioned, high levels of gray matter were detected in 50-year old meditators, yet what was the biological change? It turns out that the gray matter thins as we age resulting in balance issues, memory loss, recall challenges, and other cognitive declines.

In a combined study published in Frontiers in Psychology (1/21/15), researchers at the University of California and the Australian National University concluded that,

“Altogether, our findings seem to add further support to the hypothesis that meditation is brain-protective and associated with a reduced age-related tissue decline…Accumulating scientifically solid evidence that meditation has brain (and mind) altering capacities might, ultimately, allow for an effective translation from research to practice, not only in the framework of healthy aging, but also pathological aging, such as is evident in mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease.”

Mind Your Mind

Focus may be difficult for some but when one is fully engaged it may be highly beneficial to brain functioning. Mindfulness is the part of meditation that requires keen concentration that allows blocking out all ego voices in your head and embracing surrounding ambient sound.

Learning through meditation how to prevent the mind from wandering has shown to improve brain function.

In another study conducted by researchers at the University of California, published in Psychological Science in 2012, it was stated that,

“Mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory. Improvements in performance following mindfulness training were mediated by reduced mind wandering among participants who were prone to distraction at pretesting. Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide-reaching consequences.”

Stop Cravings

Simply sitting and clearing your mind may help with addiction. One study showed how practicing mindfulness meditation surpassed the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking (FFS) program. Some believe it is the act of ‘decoupling’ through quiet sitting that enables smokers to withhold from cravings until the urge passes.

Other forms of meditation for addiction can be found in therapies such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP). (Forbes 2/9/15)

There are many more advantages of mindfulness. Some others include:

  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Reducing self indulgence
  • Increasing school or work production
  • Strengthening your immune system

It doesn’t take much to meditate. You can commit to 30-45 minute (or more) sessions per day or simply add it in, in 5 minute intervals. All it takes is stopping, sitting, and deep breathing in your nose and out your mouth. Try integrating meditation into your life and maybe one or more of these 8 benefits of meditation will be the reward.



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