1. It Helps With Stress, Anxiety And Depression
Many studies have looked at the effect of meditation on anxiety and depression. Meditation helps to regulate the mood and improves our ability to control our thought processes, allowing us to ‘take a mental step back’ from stress, anxiety or depression provoking pattern of thinking.
In fact, a meta-analysis of the available data in 2014 by Goyal and others found that the effects of mindfulness meditation were about equal with antidepressant medication in treating depressive symptoms (but without the side-effects!)
2. It Reduces Pain
It’s quite established that meditation reduces pain. A study published in the journal of neuroscience had people either meditate or listen to a book read aloud, and then subjected them to a painful stimulus.
Needless to say, the meditators experienced less pain. It seems that meditation activates parts of the brain associated with emotion regulation, focus and cognitive control, at the same time reducing activity in the thalamus, which is the part of the brain responsible for experiencing pain.
3. It Help You To Concentrate
The brain isn’t a muscle, of course, but it does get stronger the more you work it, just like your muscles do.
Even as far back as the 1970s it had been observed that Buddhist monks who are experienced meditators perform better than most of us on concentration tests. More recently, a paper in the journal Psychological Science showed that meditation can help people focus their attention, and keep it up, even when performing boring tasks.
4. It Reduces inflammation
An interesting study in Biological Psychiatry lead by J David Creswell had people practice either real mindfulness meditation or a plecebo ‘fake’ mindfulness. For instance, both groups did stretching exercises, but while the mindfulness group were told to pay attention to their bodily sensations, including unpleasant ones, the placebo group were encouraged to chat, while their leader cracked jokes.
After three days, both groups were given brain scans. In the mindfulness group, there was more activity in the parts of the brain related to stress-related reactions and other areas related to focus and calm. Even a full four months later, the mindfulness group showed much lower levels in their blood of a marker of unhealthy inflammation than the placebo relaxation group, even though few were still meditating.
5. It Boosts Immunity
Meditation reduces stress, and stress has a strong effect on weakening the immune system. In a study from 2012 published in Annals of Family Medicine, researchers found that mindfulness meditation is just as effective as exercise for reducing the incidence of coughs, colds and flu.