Everyone is talking about the benefits of practicing meditation. But what does science say?
It’s been over 3 months since I’ve started listening to the Pick the Brain podcasts, where hosts Erin Falconer and Jeremy Fischer talk about the positive effects of meditation on a person’s well-being.
Since then I’ve started wondering, what does science have to say about it? In what ways does meditation have positive effects on our bodies and minds?
Before doing this research, for me, the practice of meditation seemed a little bit too overpromoted. However, the statistics show that people are getting more and more into meditation:
- Since 2012, the number of people practicing meditation has tripled.
- In the U.S., meditation is as popular as yoga.
- It is reported that between 200 and 500 million people meditate on a daily basis around the world.
Moreover, according to these stats, people name general wellness as the No.1 reason why they start meditating.
But can meditation really help you achieve general wellness? What does research have to say about the effects of meditation on a person’s body and mind?
Let’s take a look.
Changing Your Brain
Curing and alleviating the symptoms of depression is among many reasons why people turn to meditation. The number of people suffering from depression increased dramatically over the past few years. VeryWellMind with the reference to WHO reports that 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide in 2019, while in 2015 this number barely reached 50 million.
Recently, more and more studies have been posted with empirical evidence of the positive effects of meditation on the symptoms of depression. This year, The Harvard Gazette posted the results of research, which has found that meditation can potentially change the brain in depressed patients.
The research shows the MRI with the activation of the amygdala when patients were shown the pictures with emotional content. After a few weeks of practicing meditation, when shown these pictures again, patients reacted less emotionally and amygdala was less activated.
What is exciting about this research is that it shows proof of the effectiveness of practicing meditation on depressed patients already after a few weeks. According to these findings, the research suggests that meditation can potentially be effective to alleviate the symptoms of other diseases, including:
- Bipolar disorder
- Mood swings, and
- Other disorders, including IBS, etc.
This research shows that meditation is a natural way to weaken the symptoms of many issues connected to mental health, and even those that have an effect on the body, thus, improving the quality of life.
A Full-Day Vacation In Just 15 Minutes
Apparently, just 15 minutes of meditation can help a person feel as rested as after a full day of vacation.
A study, posted in the Journal of Positive Psychology, took a look at the data provided by 40 university students during their exam week. They followed a guided audio meditation for 15 minutes each day during 2 non-consecutive weeks of intensive studying.
The participants of this study reported that:
- They had a more positive mindset
- Their stress levels have reduced
- Their body felt better, “less bound by stress”, as reported
The study also suggests that practicing meditations has a cumulative effect on body and mind, also having an effect on emotional intelligence. “This means that if a student, for instance, keeps practicing meditation on a daily basis, they will be able to go through their stressful days easier,” says Patrick Peterson, a researcher at Flatfy.
According to this study, a 15-minute meditation acts as a recharge for your mind and body. This means that after a stressful day at work, just a small moment of mindfulness can help you unwind.
Faster Psychological Recovery
In terms of recovery from stress, meditation is one of the strategies that therapists highly recommend. Apparently, mindfulness that is a big part of practicing meditation, can help you shift your mind from troubling thoughts.
Research, posted in Psychoneuroendocrinology journal, reported that participants who regularly practiced meditation had a faster cortisol recovery from stress. As stress is responsible for many health-related outcomes, it is suggested that meditation can improve psychophysiological response.
This study also reported that participants experienced less self-conscious emotions, thus, suggesting that regular meditation can boost self-confidence. Meditation practitioners use an emotion regulation strategy of acceptance, thus being less receptive to negativity.
The Bottom Line
There’s credible scientific evidence that regular meditation can help improve mental and physical health as well as help a person feel better about themselves. Moreover, this evidence gives people a reason to claim that meditation can potentially be a strategy that can have curing effects.
Hopefully, this article provided you with useful insights into the positive effects of meditation and how it influences your body and mind in particular. What’s also great about meditation is that you can adjust it to fit your needs and make yourself feel as comfortable as possible.
Kate is a passionate writer who likes sharing her thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, she works as a real estate agent, you can check her website here. She likes everything related to traveling and new countries.