Meditation has been around for ages. Until recently, the effects and benefits of meditating were widely contested. Fortunately, with the advancement of medicine, research, and technology have helped differentiate what is true from what is a myth and outright lies.
With extensive research, medical bodies helped highlight what most people who have been meditating have been advocating for long. Being backed by medical research and distinguished facts, meditation has, in the recent past, grown and broken through cultural, social, and economic barriers.
Below, let’s examine what medical bodies and renowned research bodies have found regarding the health benefits of meditating.
Here are the top meditation benefits backed by research and ascertained by modern medicine.
Read also our article: Warnings about Meditation (Precautions and Negative Side Effects). – Opens in new tab
1. Meditation can help reduce high blood pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition that has, in the recent past, grown in the number of people it is affecting. While there is some level of treatment to help reduce hypertension, medical researchers are always looking for more effective ways to reduce and eventually eliminate such conditions.
Dr. David Fresco and Joel Hughes from Kent University undertook a two-year study seeking to understand if there is a correlation between high blood pressure and meditation. At the end of the study, the two reported the participants who practiced meditation registered lower blood pressure as compared to the start of the study.
There have been numerous other studies seeking to understand if meditation does help lower hypertension. The results do seem to agree with the findings of the professors from Kent University.
Meditating, therefore, can be augmented with other hypertension medication to increase your chances of lowering high blood pressure.
2. You can improve your sleeping hours and quality with meditation
Sleep holds an important place in your life. When you’re well-rested, you wake up energized, in a good mood, and ready to tackle the day’s challenges. The opposite is also true; sleep deprivation can make you moody and tired before the day even begins. Moreover, certain medical conditions have been linked to a lack of enough sleep. These include impaired memory, lack of alertness, diabetes, stroke, obesity, low sex drive, and many more.
In one case, a study sought to contrast the effect of meditation, specifically mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep as compared to pharmaceuticals. After five months, while both groups had improved their sleep quality, the meditation group showed higher results in compassion to the pharmaceuticals group. Moreover, when the group that was on pharmaceuticals stopped taking the medication, the problems they were experiencing earlier started recurring.
Related reading: 3 Basic Mindfulness Practices with Scientific Background. – Opens in new tab
3. Meditation can help control addictions
Addictions are a sensitive subject to address mainly because, over the years, there have been a lot of alleged cures and controls. Most of these, however, end up being substandard products or showing no results at all. Most addictions affect the brain, causing a dependency, which makes overcoming them even harder.
Addiction stimulates the brain, to the point where the mind is hooked and craves that stimulation. This stimulation occurs from the release of dopamine. Studies have proven that it is possible to get a natural high from meditation. During meditation, your brain can release dopamine naturally. Now what this does, is it helps you to get a natural high without experiencing the adverse side effects caused by drugs and other addictions.
There are numerous cases of people who have overcome addictions through meditation. However, it is worthwhile to note this is not a day process or a quick fix. Meditation does require a certain degree of discipline and patience. As you practice meditation, you will notice the dependency on the substances you were previously addicted to reducing.
Related reading: New to Meditation? Here are the Major Mistakes you can make
4. Meditation helps ease anxiety and depression
Only recently is the world understanding the toll anxiety on society and individuals. To better illustrate this, you need to note that after all those years, the World Health Organization finally listed anxiety and depression as a leading cause of disability and ill-health in the world.
Fortunately, several studies have been conducted to understand what effect meditation has on depression and anxiety. In 2017, for instance, a study was conducted on two groups. The first group was given nothing to combat anxious thoughts and feelings. The second group, however, practiced mindfulness-based stress reduction. While both these groups had been suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the group that practiced meditation showed better results by having lower stress levels when tested.
5. Meditation has been linked to improving brain health and cognition
In today’s age, the mind is stretched in almost all capacities, and this can be quite stressful. You may be required to balance work, a personal life, a social life, and other responsibilities all at once. Unfortunately, this can be quite tasking for the mind.
As it turns out, people who keep a flexible mind reap more benefits than those who do not. With a flexible mind comes better problem-solving abilities and overall interpersonal skills.
Meditation can help you achieve mental flexibility as a study conducted in 2010 would reveal. The study found that after four days of meditation, subjects experienced reduced fatigue and anxiety. They also recorded higher levels of mindfulness, executive functioning, and better memory.
6. You can maintain your youth by meditating
A keen eye has been put to investigate if meditation does, indeed help with the aging process. While there are many factors in play, over the last two decades, research has been conducted on telomeres. These are protective caps that are located at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres play an essential role in DNA replication as well as general chromosome protection.
With age, these telomeres tend to shorten, and therefore, the length of telomeres can offer insight on a person’s life longevity. It is notable to mention that factors such as high stress, poor diet, smoking, poor sleep, alcohol use, and physical stress can lead to the shortening of telomeres. Consequently, shortened telomeres lead to the death of cells and lead to diseases such as cardiovascular illnesses and atherosclerosis.
The good news, however, is research has shown the length of telomeres can be improved through meditation. For starters, meditating increases telomerase levels in the body. Telomerase is an enzyme required by telomeres to repeat the sequences at the end of the chromosomes. While this helps preserve telomeres’ length, it goes a step further to promoting healthy cell functions and an overall improved immune function.
Related reading: 4 Documented Meditation Benefits for the Brain You have to know – Opens in new tab
7. Meditation can help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a serious condition that involves an emotional and visceral response from past traumatic events. The condition affects millions of people worldwide and can have catastrophic outcomes both on the person as well as the people surrounding the individual. Several studies and research have shown great promise in treating PTSD through the help of meditation.
Transcendental meditation has shown excellent results with PTSD Patients. Essentially, the meditation helps people suffering from PTSD to develop an ability to change their focus from the depressive and negative thoughts, and to instead focus on living in the moment. Through meditation, people who have PTSD learn to change their way of thinking, reduces anxiety and depression, and ultimately develop a peaceful way of viewing the world.
8. Meditation can be used to ease physical pain
In many cultures, and over time, meditation was a common practice. Buddhist monks, for example, were known to use the power of meditation to ease chronic pain. In recent times, medicine has caught up with such practices, and their practical use is ever-growing.
For instance, in 2008, people over the age of 65 who suffered from back pain reported lowered pain levels during meditation. For some, it was merely due to the mental distraction offered through meditation. While meditating, it is possible to focus on one thing, that the levels of pain feel like they are gradually reducing. Additionally, another clinical trial found that patients who had chronic pain coped better with the pain after meditating.
In another study carried out in 2014, and published in the Neuroscience Journal found a link between meditation and pain. In the study, researchers concluded that through engaging various brain mechanisms that alter the perception of pain, meditation could help ease the levels of pain in a person’s body. Of course, this did not fully alleviate the need for opioids in people who felt extreme pain; however, with continuous meditation, most did report a lowered need for opioids and other pain relievers.
In theory, and with more research, there can be established meditation techniques that would significantly reduce the need for opioids in people experiencing pain. This will have a significant impact on the health as well as the society, seeing how opioids have recently plagued society.
At the end of the day, it is incredible that medicine – and science, in general, is catching up with the practice of meditation. With more time and resources dedicated to research, the world will be able to come up with a variety of health benefits emanating from meditation.
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