It’s not just in our heads! There are now thousands of studies showing the health benefits of meditation and mindfulness. But you don’t have to go out and do the research – we’ve made it simple! Read on to uncover the science behind these numerous meditation benefits.
For Better Zzz’s
Better sleep at night – and more dreams – bring life to your days.
Sleep isn’t just eight hours a day of relaxation – it’s been proven to play a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. Some studies confirm that meditating gives you all sorts of benefits like sleeping longer, waking up feeling refreshed, and feeling more positive in the morning.1
Turns out meditation can even help serious sleep problems. Researchers wanted to see if mindfulness meditation would benefit those struggling with chronic insomnia. After eight weeks, those in the meditation training had less total wake time during the night, were more relaxed before going to bed, and reduced the severity of their sleep problems. Plus, in a follow up six months later, the insomnia sufferers had maintained a better quality of sleep.2
To Stress Less
Less stress means more happiness!
It’s a little-known secret that Wall Street execs, famous artists, and Silicon Valley whiz kids are some of the biggest advocates of meditation as a way to manage stress.
A 2005 study at Harvard Medical School found that meditating increases the thickness of your prefrontal cortex, the area of your brain associated with attention and self-awareness.3
Furthermore, we now know it even reduces employee stress and burnout. A study on teachers who attended a mindfulness training program and practiced daily meditation for 8 weeks showed reduced symptoms of burnout and teachers confirmed that the training was beneficial for both the students and themselves.4
For a Healthy Waistline
A slimmer middle – and no dieting!
We know that meditating helps with stress, and stress is linked to overeating – but what about possible meditation benefits for weight loss? Can meditating help you eat healthier and lose weight?
Researchers at UC San Francisco studied a group of overweight women to test this idea. The scientists didn’t prescribe any diet, but instead taught mindful eating, and had participants meditate for thirty minutes a day. What happened? While the control group actually gained weight, the treatment participants maintained their weights, plus lowered their cortisol levels. Higher reductions in cortisol and stress also showed higher reductions in abdominal fat.5
To Reduce Pain and Heal Faster
Relieve pain by changing your mind – literally!
Jon Kabat- Zinn, who heads up the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School, proved back in the ‘80s that meditation and mindfulness could significantly improve pain symptoms and quality of life in chronic pain patients, even up to 4 years later.6
His program, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is practiced widely.
Recently, we’ve also gotten a look at how the brain might be involved. When researchers had people participate in four days of mindfulness-based training, participants reported less pain intensity and unpleasantness. What’s more, MRIs showed reductions in pain-induced cerebral blood flow during meditation sessions.7
To Beat Anxiety
Take control of your thoughts and send worries packing.
Focusing on all the terrible things that might happen to us – but often don’t! – takes us away from the present, and causes our bodies a lot of stress.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, found that meditating could even help those with generalized anxiety disorder, a condition marked by hard-to-control worries, poor sleep, and irritability.8
To Smile More
A happy pill, with no side effects!
Meditating helps us gain awareness of our minds, so we can see negative thoughts and say “those thoughts are not me.” Becoming less identified with our emotions and thoughts helps those thoughts lose power.9
A Harvard study found that mind-wandering – which often means drifting to these negative thoughts – was linked to unhappiness.10 And recently, Madhav Goyal, who led a study by Johns Hopkins researchers said that for depression, “we found a roughly 10 to 20 percent improvement in depressive symptoms compared to the placebo groups. This is similar to the effects of antidepressants in similar populations.”11
To Finally Relax
Forget about those little things that used to bother you.
Relaxing your body and mind with meditation helps you to stay centered when you inevitably encounter those everyday stressors12 – rush hour traffic, anyone?
Investigators from the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital found that practicing meditation causes what is called the “relaxation response”, the opposite of the “fight-or-flight” response – what happens to our bodies when we get stressed. Their studies showed that the relaxation response alleviates anxiety and also has positive effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and brain activity.13
To Enhance Your Love Life
Your honey will thank you!
Your honey will thank you. By learning to better recognize your own emotions, and those of others, you’ll more easily experience lasting harmony in your relationships.
Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco taught 82 female teachers, all married or living with a partner, how to meditate. Compared with a control group that hadn’t learned meditation, the women gave fewer negative facial expressions during a marital interaction test.14 Good news, because studies at Berkeley University showed that people who demonstrate negative facial expressions toward their partners are more likely to divorce.
For a Successful Life
A shortcut to getting what you want in life.
Maybe you’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be great at something. The Beatles played 1,200 concerts together before becoming internationally known. Bill Gates started programming in eighth grade. But new research shows there’s a different formula for success.
World-class athletes, top managers and world-class performers, when tested, have all shown high levels of what’s called brain integration. This means that their brains are wired with strong connections between the different areas, they have heightened attention, and they’re able to think quickly to deal with problems.
This is the new key to success, as noted by US neuroscientist Dr. Fred Travis, because it’s the fire starter behind the creativity that often leads to success.15
Luckily, a study from Harvard Medical School demonstrated that meditating causes changes in brain waves that actually improve the brain’s functionality.16 You can find success in any area of your life, and just think of all the time you’ll save!
Hopefully these studies have convinced you about the benefits of meditation for your health and well being. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try!
Be sure to watch this quick video where Lynne explains why meditation is good for you:
I love this question! The short answer is: You should meditate because there’s nothing you can do that can have such a positive effect on your life with so little time and effort.
By some estimations, stress can be responsible for 90% of the disease in the body. Meditation is the antidote to that stress.
When we feel stressed, our body releases stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. Our blood platelets get sticky, and our heart rate and blood pressure increase. But when we meditate, we release feel-good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin, our heart rate slows, our blood pressure normalizes, and our immune system is actually strengthened.
Not only does meditation reduce stress and anxiety, but it improves your physical health and well-being, decreases feelings of depression, improves memory, focus and concentration, makes you less reactive, which helps your relationships, boosts your self awareness and creativity, and to top it off, it makes you happier.
And don’t just take my word for it, these benefits and more have been scientifically proven in hundreds and hundreds of studies from top institutions like Harvard, Stanford, Berkley, and the National Institute of Health. And you can get these benefits by meditating only a few minutes a day.
The beauty about meditation is that it’s effortless; there’s literally nothing to do! You don’t even have to get dressed and go anywhere! Just find a quiet place where you can sit for a few minutes and not do anything.
What could be easier? Why not give it a try?
S. Patra, S. Telles, Positive impact of cyclic meditation on subsequent sleep, Medical Science Monitor 2009; 15(7): CR375-381, June 2009. Read Here
Ong JC, Manber R, Segal Z, Xia Y, Shapiro S, Wyatt JK. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for chronic insomnia. Sleep. Sep 1;37(9):1553-63. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4010. Read Here
Sara W. Lazar, Catherine E. Kerr, Rachel H. Wasserman, Jeremy R. Gray, Douglas N. Greve, Michael T. Treadway, Metta McGarvey Brian T. Quinn, Jeffery A. Dusek, Herbert Benson, Scott L. Rauch, Christopher I. Moore, and Bruce Fishl. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport. Nov 28; 16(17): 1893–1897. Read Here
L. Flook, S. B. Goldberg, L. Pinger, K. Bonus and R. J. Davidson. (2013). Mindfulness for Teachers: A Pilot Study to Assess Effects on Stress, Burnout, and Teaching Efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education, Volume 7, Issue 3, pages 182–195, September 2013. Read Here
Jennifer Daubenmier, Jean Kristeller, Frederick M. Hecht, Nicole Maninger, Margaret Kuwata, Kinnari Jhaveri, Robert H. Lustig, Margaret Kemeny, Lori Karan, and Elissa Epel. (2013). Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study. Journal of Obesity Volume 2011, Article ID 651936, 13 pages. Read Here
Zeidan, J.A. Grant, C.A. Brown, J.G. McHaffie, and R.C. Coghill. (2012). Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: Evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain. Neurosci Lett. Jun 29; 520(2): 165–173. Read Here
Fadel Zeidan, Katherine T. Martucci, Robert A. Kraft, Nakia S. Gordon, John G. McHaffie, and Robert C. Coghill. (2011). Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 6 April, 31(14):5540-5548; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5791-10.2011. Read Here
Hoge EA, Bui E, Marques L, Metcalf CA, Morris LK, Robinaugh DJ, Worthington JJ, Pollack MH, Simon NM. (2013). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Effects on Anxiety and Stress Reactivity. J Clin Psychiatry. Aug;74(8):786-92. doi: 10.4088/JCP.12m08083. Read Here
Marchand, William R. (2012). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Zen Meditation for Depression, Anxiety, Pain, and Psychological Distress. Journal of Psychiatric Practice Vol. 18, No. 4 Read Here
Killingsworth, Matthew A. and Gilbert, Daniel T. (2010). A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind. Science 12 Nov. Vol. 330 no. 6006 p. 932. Read Here
Reinberg, Steven. “Meditation May Reduce Mild Depression, Anxiety.” WebMD. Health Day, 6 Jan 2013. Web. 01 Oct. 2014. Read Here
Benson, Herbert, M.D. “The Relaxation Response.” Mind Body Medicine How to Use Your Mind for Better Health (1993): n. pag. UPE Group. United Psychological & Educational Group, 14 Apr. 2000. Read here
McGreevey, Sue. “HMS.” Harvard Medical School. HMS, 1 May 2013. Read here.
Freeman, Elizabeth. “Meditation Improves Emotional Behaviors in Teachers, Study Finds.” University of California San Francisco. UCSF, 28 Mar. 2012. Read here.
Harrung, HS, and Fred Travis. “Higher Mind-brain Development in Successful Leaders: Testing a Unified Theory of Performance.” Cognitive Processing 10 (2011): 171-81. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 May 2012. Read here.
C.E. Kerr, et al., Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex, Brain Res. Bull. (2011), doi:10.1016/j.brainresbull.2011.03.026 Read here.