Top 5 benefits of meditation

by John B. Professional Writer

More and more scientific studies are looking at the benefits of meditation. This inexpensive, easy-to-implement practice, with no side effects, seems to promote concentration, limit cardiovascular problems and reduce pain.

Meditation classes are gaining in popularity, especially mindfulness meditation. But what can the practice of meditation do for your health? Here are five good reasons why you should consider it.

1. Meditation promotes mental well-being
Various studies have shown that meditation reduces stress, anxiety and the risk of depression. For example, in a Belgian study of 400 young people aged 13 to 20, those who followed a mindfulness programme showed fewer signs of depression, anxiety and stress than those who did not, up to six months later. These young people were less likely to develop depressive symptoms. In 2014, a review of 36 randomised controlled trials showed that meditation can reduce anxiety symptoms.

Did you know?
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your sensations, breathing, emotions and thoughts without making value judgements. It was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts. It is used in the workplace, in hospitals and with children.

In general, meditation improves mood and psychological well-being, as a British study has shown. Finally, an Indian study found that meditation reduced the effects of stress and promoted relaxation in adults who had never practised it.

2. Meditation stimulates the brain
Meditation promotes attention, memory and would limit the effects of age on the brain. Harvard researchers have shown that meditation increases the amount of grey matter linked to concentration in the brain. To arrive at this result, they conducted an experiment on 16 people who had followed an eight-week mindfulness meditation programme. The participants were compared to a group of 17 controls. MRI scans showed that grey matter increased in areas of the brain involved in learning, memory and emotional control.

Similarly, in a University of California study, participants were better able to concentrate on repetitive tasks as a result of meditation practice. In another study of 48 adults with attention deficit disorder, those who received mindfulness therapy reduced hyperactivity, impulsivity, and thus inattention problems.

3. Meditation reduces pain
Several studies have shown that the practice of meditation is beneficial against pain. For example, researchers at the University of California compared 12 people who had practised meditation for a long time with 12 controls. The people who were experienced in meditation had 40-50% lower brain responses to pain than the controls. When the 12 controls were taught Transcendental Meditation for five months, they too experienced a reduction in their brain response to pain.

4. Meditation is good for our cardiovascular health
In a 2012 study, 200 people at cardiovascular risk were given either session to promote better diet and exercise or sessions on Transcendental Meditation. The participants were followed for five years. The researchers found that those who took the meditation sessions reduced their risk of heart attack, stroke and death by 48%. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure. An Indian study also found that meditation reduces heart rate and breathing patterns.

5. Meditation is good for immunity
One study showed that mindfulness meditation has effects on genes: pro-inflammatory genes are less expressed, which explains why the body recovers more easily after a stressful situation. In a study that compared mindfulness with other interventions (music therapy, exercise, nutrition education), the latter techniques were the most effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms.

Things to remember

  • Meditation is a relaxing practice that can help manage stress and anxiety.
  • It helps with attention and memory.
  • People who practice meditation seem to be more resistant to pain.
  • Meditation is also believed to promote cardiovascular health and immunity.
  • The benefits of meditation validated by science

US researchers have just provided new evidence that meditation reduces symptoms of anxiety disorders and improves attention, memory, immunity, emotional management, cognitive and academic performance, as well as creativity.

According to researchers at the Texas Tech University faculty in the United States, a meditation programme developed in China in the 1990s, IBMT (Integrated Body & Mind Training), specifically targets two specific areas of the brain, called the anterior cingulate cortex and the adjacent medial prefrontal cortex, which are involved in attention and memory on the one hand, and decision making, empathy and emotion on the other.

The technique, called "integrated gymnastics of the body and mind", is based on relaxation exercises, breathing, postures and mental visualisations. This protocol makes it possible to access meditation, which requires the control of thoughts, progressively and more easily.

After five 20-minute sessions with an instructor, most of the "meditators" noticed a significant decrease in their daily stress levels, anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue, and improved attention. In addition, they experienced improved emotional, cognitive and social behaviour.

Improving attention and reducing symptoms of depression
In conclusion, the researchers recommend the regular practice to learn physical and emotional self-control. In other words, to become aware of one's thoughts by establishing a proper distance between oneself and one's emotions.

In addition, people suffering from attention deficit or hyperactivity disorders, or with learning difficulties, could benefit from the method to improve their level and attitude at school.

A previous American study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, showed that combining meditation and sport sessions twice a week for two months reduced symptoms associated with depression by 40%.

American researchers from Carnegie Mellon University observed that 35 unemployed people who were stressed and who had meditated strongly developed the connection of a certain network of neurons in their brain, linked to rest. However, this network was defective in the subjects in important regions of the brain that command attention and executive control, i.e. the process that directs our behaviour.

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About John B. Freshman   Professional Writer

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Joined APSense since, April 9th, 2021, From Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Created on Apr 9th 2021 09:33. Viewed 726 times.


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