15 Scientific Reasons To Meditate Today
We hear the terms "mindfulness" and "meditation" all the time in the health and wellness world. But if you've never actually tried it, how do you know if it will really benefit your life? If you're a frequent meditator, are you aware of all the ways that your practice is improving your daily life? Even if you're a mindfulness connoisseur, do you know exactly what to say when a beginner asks you why, exactly, they should give it a try?
If the answer if no—don't worry—we've got your back. Here are the cold, hard facts about meditation and how it can benefit your body, sharpen your mind, and improve your life and relationships.
1. Meditation is a game-changer for depression and anxiety.
We know that meditation is good for our minds, but science has specifically shown that meditation can help with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Many researchers urge doctors to be prepared to talk to their patients about the profound role meditation could play in addressing psychological stress, and we agree!
2. You can tackle inflammation by calming your mind.
Research has shown that mindfulness based stress reduction (MSBR) can lead to decreased levels of inflammation. And many scientists are suggesting that behavioral interventions like MSBR could be used as a therapy for people with chronic inflammatory conditions—that means asthma, arthritis, IBS and many, many more!
3. Mindfulness can transform your sex life.
Meditation can give you more energy, decrease stress, and make you more present and able to connect with your partner—all of which can make your sex life just a little bit sexier.
4. Going inward increases gray matter in the brain.
And this is a very good thing! Studies have shown that increases in these areas of the brain might explain, "meditators' singular abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior." So basically: The grayer the brain the better.
5. Lovingkindness meditation will widen your social circle.
A 2008 study found that even a few minutes of lovingkindness meditation increased feelings of social connectedness toward strangers. Meditation is a great way to increase positive vibes in your life, connect with yourself and others, and decrease any feelings of social isolation that some of us experience from time to time.
6. You can meditate to ease physical pain.
Although researchers don't quite understand how it works, mindfulness meditation can help ease chronic pain and increase quality of life. This would be relevant for any of the 50 million Americans who suffer from a chronic pain condition, a problem that costs the country billions of dollars each year to treat with drugs and surgeries!
7. Being more present helps fight addiction and substance abuse issues.
Cultivating awareness of our thoughts and emotions is a major theme in meditation. In one study, participants enrolled in a mindfulness-based relapse prevention program reduced substance use and heavy drinking better that those enrolled in a traditional 12-step program.
8. Meditation will keep you young.
Research has shown that yogic-based meditation can improve cognitive functioning and increase telomerase activity, suggesting that it can protect us from the stress-induced aging of our cells. Enough said!
9. Just a little bit can boost your immune function.
Even a short-term meditation program (offered in an office setting) can lead to significant improvements in immune function. This makes cold and flu season a great time to start a mindfulness practice and proves that meditation is a simple, inexpensive, non-time-consuming, and amazingly powerful tool.
10. Mindfulness can increase your concentration.
Mindfulness and meditation show a lot of potential for helping adults and children with attention problems. A recent study suggests that a practice could "regulate impaired brain functioning and thereby reduce ADHD symptoms." And that's without all the side effects of amphetamines, which include (but are not limited to) irregular heartbeat, headache, and painful urination.
11. It can make you a more compassionate person.
Meditation increases areas in the brain that are responsible for feelings of empathy, and an ability to understand and read the emotions of others is linked to healthier and deeper relationships. Never a bad thing!
12. Meditation can improve your career.
It's possible that adopting a new practice could enhance your performance at work. Meditation has also been linked to improved job satisfaction and work engagement, which sound like pretty good perks to us.
13. It's possible to lower your blood pressure with mindfulness.
A study published in December of 2016 suggested that meditation is a promising alternative approach to lowering both systolic and diabolic blood pressures, some of the major risk factors in heart disease.
14. Stress reduction can improve your digestion.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) and IBS have strong psychological components. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress-related flare-ups for people who suffer from digestive problems
15. Mindfulness groups help improve sleep and fight insomnia.
One study compared the benefits of a sleep education program to mindfulness groups and found that the mindfulness group had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of six weeks. So here's to a natural way to sleep soundly, all night long!