5 Scientific Benefits of Meditating Regularly
You've probably heard about how great meditation makes people feel, but have you heard about the proven scientific benefits of meditation? Meditators and yogis are praising the practice for both the undefinable benefits and the measurable effects that have improved their physical and mental health.
If you've been considering regular meditation as a way to improve your health, here are five meditation benefits discovered and backed by research.
1. Reduced Levels of Cortisol
Whenever you feel stressed, emotionally, or physically, you can thank a little guy called cortisol, the hormone that causes your stress levels to increase. Sometimes, stress can be beneficial, like when you're trying to escape a dangerous situation. However, prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can disrupt your sleep, lower your immune system, cause fatigue, increase your risk of diseases, and inhibit your ability to make the right decisions.
That's where stress-related meditation techniques can bring benefits. If you practice, regularly, you've likely noticed that one of the benefits of meditation is that it helps you control your stress and anxiety. You're not just imagining it - research on the science of meditation has found that it can actually lower your cortisol levels.
Not only will your body feel better while practicing regular meditation, but your body will actually produce less of that pesky stress hormone. You'll experience less sleepless nights and a calmer, happier mindset.
2. Lower Chances of Age-Related Memory Loss
Did you know that over forty percent of people aged sixty-five or older have age-associated memory impairments? That's about sixteen million people in the United States. Even if most of these cases don't develop into full-blown dementia, it's pretty standard for our elderly to struggle with their memory.
One of the most significant mental benefits of mindfulness meditation is the noticeable improvements in attention and clarity it brings. Some scientists even say that regular practice of mindfulness-based meditation may also help with brain plasticity, helping to keep your mind young.
In a recent review of over a dozen studies involving older volunteers, scientists found that multiple meditation styles can lead to increased attention, improved memory, and mental quickness. Although no one can say that meditation actually prevents dementia, we can undoubtedly say that it seems to fight age-related memory loss and promote clear thinking in people of all ages.
3. Improved Addiction Management
Have you heard that meditation is commonly recommended to help manage addiction? Scientists have found that by developing mental discipline through meditation, you may be able to break dependencies and reduce addictive behaviors. Whether it's drugs, alcohol, sex, or any other serious addiction, research shows that meditation is a powerful tool for rehabilitation.
In 2005, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse studied one hundred and twenty-one patients undergoing substance abuse programs. Through the use of manipulated brainwave patterns, they were able to mimic the benefits of meditation. Incredibly, a whopping seventy-seven percent of patients were drug-free a year later.
This is particularly impressive because only twenty-one percent of patients typically remain sober for five years after inpatient drug rehabilitation. Alcohol relapse is especially common, and most substance abusers struggle to stay sober for many years following treatment. Of course, there is always the risk of relapse, but developing a practice that actually alters the way your brain handles self-discipline make sense.
If you're scoffing at the idea that meditation can permanently change the way your brain functions, consider a study's findings that people who meditate for eight weeks at roughly half an hour per day can actually rewire their brain's critical pathways. They're not just changing the way they think - they're altering their brain's structure by increasing grey matter.
Whether or not your addiction is as severe as heroin or alcohol abuse, meditation can help you establish more control over your bad habits.
4. Improved Blood Pressure
Over seventy-five million people in America struggle with hypertension or high blood pressure. This increases their risk of heart disease and stroke. And it's alarming that the CDC says only about half of these people have their high blood pressure levels under control.
One of the health benefits of mindfulness meditation is that it can potentially reduce your blood pressure by about five points. This was discovered in a study of almost one thousand volunteers who practice mantra meditation.
No matter where you live or who your doctor is, you can use the benefits of meditation science to improve your heart health. Lower your risk of heart disease and stroke by embracing regular mindfulness meditation with the help and guidance of a professional. If you're looking for a mindfulness coach in Boston, I'd be happy to help you begin your practice.
5. Minimized Risk of Heart Diseases
As I just said, we know that meditation strategies can help lower your blood pressure, which also minimizes your risk of heart disease. However, the heart-related benefits of meditation don't stop there.
Experts recently reviewed dozens of studies published over the last twenty years in the Journal of the American Heart Association. They found that the scientific benefits of yoga and meditation make them worth, including in an overall program for ongoing heart care. Meditation can potentially improve a host of factors in individuals prone to heart disease, including:
Changing how quickly your heart makes changes between heartbeats
Raising your HRV (heart rate variability)
Lowering your systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure
Increasing the likelihood of heart-healthy practices like eating right and exercising
Regardless of how old or young you might be; it pays to take care of your heart. The mind-calming practice of mindfulness meditation can substantially improve your heart's conditions, and any habit that can lower your risk of heart disease is worth trying.
Although any meditation would be beneficial, regular meditation can bring powerful and positive changes to both your body and mind.