A summary on the benefits of meditation

August 30, 2018 - Max Barnard

Meditation has becoming increasingly more popular in recent years due to more people discovering its benefits. Research is suggesting that meditation is not limited to improving mental health but it also helps with physical health. We have listed many of the benefits of meditation below.

Reducing stress: A common reason for trying meditation is to reduce stress levels. There is lots of research showing that meditation:

Teaching you how to become an observer of your thoughts: You can step back from your thoughts and not take them so seriously. This can help in a variety of ways, from managing anxiety and/or depression, to making life more fun etc.

Improves concentration: You are able to focus for longer periods of time and you will fully engage with tasks as you will be able to "get into the zone" more easily - this is called "flow" in mindfulness teachings. It consists of feeling absorbed in the moment and everything around you seems to vanish.

Encourages a healthier lifestyle: Meditation encourages other healthy habits, such as exercising and eating healthier.

Increases self-awareness: Meditation helps you understand yourself which is a good starting point for positive change. From this you will be able to recognise your harmful thoughts and behaviours which then allows you to work on them. Being more self-aware will also make you more aware of your body's needs so you can look after yourself better.

Boosts happiness: Increases positive emotions and life satisfaction. You also appreciate everything around you more due to an increased awareness of it.

Increases acceptance and compassion: Increases your positive feelings and actions towards yourself and others.

Enhances memory: Your ability to memorise, store and consolidate information improves. Meditation helps you remove unnecessary thinking thereby keeping your mind sharp.

Slows signs of aging: Cognition seems to be preserved and age-related memory loss reduces.

Better management of psychological disorders: As well as stress, meditation has been shown to help manage the symptoms of other psychological disorders. This is thought to link to a quieter mind and having more control of your thoughts, for example, problems may seem smaller to someone who meditates.

Meditation during a sunset

Improves sleep: You are learning to relax your body so you will feel calmer when it's time to go to sleep. Also the thoughts that would have previously kept you awake don't interfere anymore, instead you can focus on your breathing.

Flexibility: You can meditate anywhere you want to and without any special equipment. There are lots of different styles of meditation to suit the individual.

Improves relationships: Meditation increases social connections and reduces loneliness. Relationships improve because your awareness of others' emotions (empathy) helps you understand how they feel and how you affect their mood. You feel more connected with the people around you.

Increases your creativity: Skills that you develop through meditation practice help with the creative process, such as observation, awareness, acceptance etc.

Improves ability to make decisions: Instead of immediately reacting to a situation and potentially reacting poorly and consequently feeling worse, you pause to come up with a reasonable response.

Reduces physical pain: Lots of research has linked meditation with helping manage physical illnesses, for example:

  • Relieves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Enhances immune function, such as, increasing resistance to infections. Significantly, a study in Ohio showed that when progressive muscle relaxation was practiced every day the risk of the reoccurrence of breast cancer decreased.
  • Improves cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Decreases tension-related pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Can be used as a supplement to help with chronic pain as meditation can reduce the brain's perception of pain.

Not being limited by judgement: You're less attached to your self-image which means that you're not worried about what others think of you.

Helps overcome addictions: Meditation teaches you self-control which leads to a mental discipline. For instance, there is research that meditation helps reduce binge eating.

Feeling calmer: By having a calmer mind you will feel calmer. Emotions often stem from your thinking so being less attached to your thoughts means they will induce less powerful emotions.

Engaging in meditation can help in a variety of ways to improve your general well-being. It's a skill that benefits from practice - the more frequently you engage in meditation the more you will benefit from it.

Learn more on our Mindfulness course using VR.