Meditation has attracted the attention of researchers for decades; thousands of scientific studies have been done on this ancestral practice over time.
The list of its benefits seems to be growing every day, and meditation has never been so popular! But let us try to see together the essential with its six main advantages.
- Meditation changes your brain “physically.”
A 2011 Harvard study by Dr. Sarah Lazar found that nine weeks of meditation is enough to increase brain size in 3 crucial places:
Also, after eight weeks of meditation, a drop in the cells was seen in the amygdala complex, a region of the brain that “makes” Fear, stress, and anxiety.
The critical thing to remember: through meditation, we can shape areas of our brain and “reprogram” them to improve positive traits such as concentration and decision-making and decrease those that are less positive such as fear and stress. Beyond that, it means it’s possible to change our brain for the better in a sustainable way. Meditation modifies and strengthens the mind, it is the equivalent of a bodybuilding session for the brain!
- Reduces “bad feelings.” »
Stress in small amounts is not so much a problem as it is; in some cases, fear can even be healthy.
However, most people stress too much, which can be wrong and cause a lot of more or less serious health problems. Mental and physical stress leads to increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone), which can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, and increase blood pressure, among other things.
A 2004 study found that meditation can help:
- better stress management
- drastically reduce the adverse effects of stress
A survey of nearly 1,300 adults showed that meditation could reduce stress, a fact that was particularly pronounced in people with the highest levels of stress.
A recent study by 2016 led by Professor Willem Kuyken has concluded that cognitive therapy based on mindfulness seems to be useful as a treatment for relapse prevention in individuals with recurrent depression, particularly those with residual symptoms are more pronounced.
A similar 2014 study conducted by Elisabeth Hoge on people with anxiety, concluding that meditating for eight weeks could reduce these anxiety symptoms.
And if all these studies can’t convince you that meditation is good for fighting negative feelings, a meta-analysis published in JAMA has examined 19,000 reviews of meditation, concluding that it helps reduce anxiety and depression.
- Helps to get rid of bad habits
Another 2014 study led by Sarah Bower aimed to separate alcoholics into two groups:
- one group who were taught mindfulness meditation
- another that we dived into a classic 12-step weaning program
After one year, 8% of the participants in the first group relapsed into blood alcohol, compared with 20% in the second group.
Meditation is like a workout for the brain; by training it, you will strengthen your Will and ability to make the things you want in the deepest part of you come true. I often observe that assiduous meditation practitioners, after having adopted this practice, had the desire to make other healthy changes in their lives (successfully), such as losing weight or eating better.
- Improve your concentration
Benefits of meditating every day a 2010 study by Dr. Catherine MacLean of the University of California asked participants to analyze lines of text to find differences. The kind of work tedious and annoying at best. He realized that the group who had been subjected to meditation classes did better on the analysis exam than the other group, suggesting that meditation has the power to improve concentration.
Another study conducted this time on the side of Washington came to the same conclusion, realizing that meditation had the power to allow workers to concentrate longer on a task.
A straightforward little example of everyday life: maybe you are the kind who can’t read more than two pages of a book without subconsciously distracting yourself from the story and realizing 10 minutes later that you’ve completely lost it! Through meditation, you may be able to read entire chapters without being distracted by your thoughts.
- Could improve longevity
A California study of the elderly found that meditation significantly reduced the amount of C-reactive protein, a protein directly correlated with the risk of developing heart disease. The same study also showed that meditation reduces inflammation in the body.
Another study conducted on the Boston side of patients with hypertension showed that three months of meditation was enough to lower their blood pressure.
- Meditating makes you (more) happy
In a 2004 study, Dr. Richard Davidson placed electrodes on the heads of monks who have been practicing meditation for several years. He then discovered, not without some amazement, that the monks had 30 times the normal levels of gamma brain waves, which are attributed to notions such as:
- the intelligence
- feelings of well-being
Another 2008 study published by Professor Barbara Fredrickson concluded that the practice of daily meditation provides a sense of well-being and positive emotions that continually increase as you engage in it.
Certain types of meditation can mainly increase feelings and positive actions towards yourself and others. The “Metta” is a form of meditation, also known as the “meditation of benevolent love,” and it begins with the development of benevolent thoughts and feelings towards yourself. Through his practice, people learn to spread this goodness and forgiveness from the inside out, first to their friends, then to their acquaintances, and finally to their enemies.
A meta-analysis of some 20 studies of this form of meditation has demonstrated its ability to increase people’s compassion for themselves and others. This form of meditation has also proven effective in improving anxiety, reducing marital conflict, and helping with anger management.
Remember all those little happy moments you had as a child, those little excitations at the thought of, not much after all? Meditation can make this state of mind positive. The kind of mindset that allows you to sit on a bench in a park and marvel at how beautiful what surrounds you is, with simplicity.
Given all these benefits, it is not surprising to learn that most of the big names in this world associated with success (CEOs, athletes, entertainers, etc.) are meditation geeks.
Careful though, meditation is a difficult habit to adopt, you will have to be very, very regular to be able to enjoy its benefits. But if you take the crease and manage to make meditation a daily practice, you will be able to boost your level of willpower and more easily acquire other good habits. Meditation can have a real domino effect on your entire life!