“Through meditation, the Higher Self is experienced.” – Bhagavad Gita

Despite ongoing scientific study, and the fact that it has existed for thousands of years, we have yet to fully understand the mechanisms behind the merits of meditation. Science has, however, managed to prove many benefits that you may not know about. Recent studies using EEGs and fMRIs have emphasized that meditation and mindfulness can have a positive effect on both physiological and psychological elements in our body. Let’s have a look at ten scientifically verified advantages of meditation.

 

  1. Meditation supports the heart Studies have shown a reduction both heart rate and blood pressure. With regular practice it improves circulatory capacity both during and after the act of meditation. This minimizes strain on the heart and will reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The science behind this is a marked reduction in ‘lipid peroxide’ which contributes to heart diseases and other age-related chronic diseases.
  2. Meditation lowers anxiety and depression – The evil twins of mood disorders. Depression and anxiety can ruin a person’s life, and in extreme cases these two can drive a person to self harm if not managed early on. Science explains mood disorders as the imbalance of neurotransmitters, most notably serotonin and norepinephrine. Numerous studies conducted by respectable universities have demonstrated that regular meditation elevates and regulates neurotransmitters to healthy levels. Meditation can also regulate stress hormones like cortisol which results in a calming, anti-anxiety effect.
  3. Meditation helps us process information faster – The latest in brain imaging techniques has revealed regular meditation practitioners have more gyrification. This is a “folding”, or thickening of the cortex which creates more surface area, enabling faster data processing and quicker, more accurate decision making ability.
  4. Meditation improves memory – According to the researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, “Regular practice of meditation thickens the outer cortex of brain. The outer cortex is responsible for higher functions like concentration, learning, and memory. Meditation also lights up hippocampus and the frontal lobe of the brain, which are responsible for long term and short term memory, respectively. This means with regular practice your brain’s memory storage capacity will increase and the ability to reclaim forgotten memories improves.
  5. Meditation can improve the immune system – Recent studies have shown meditation increases circulating inflammatory proteins that boost our immunity. These studies claim to have found a possible link between mindfulness meditation and dynamics of cell-mediated immunity. In other words, you will be less prone to illness or infection by maintaining a daily meditation practice.
  6. Meditation helps prevent PMS and alleviate menstrual pain About 85% of females worldwide have been affected by dreadful PMS symptoms that can range from mild irritation, to cramps, to depression and anxiety. Even suicidal thoughts. Here is some good news for women: meditation can inhibit the sympathetic nervous system and also reduce stress hormones. This enhances the mood by promoting a general state of happiness and well-being. Meditation is believed to minimize the intensity pre-menstrual pain by 40% and emotional discomfort by 57%.
  7. Meditation can promote positive relationships and prevent social isolation – Researchers at Emory University Atlanta tell us, “Regular meditation can boost the ability to empathize with others by reading their expressions”. It can also make us more relaxed, grounded and can foster a loving attitude towards others. Meditation can make you notice feeling and thoughts toward people you’ve never felt before.
  8. Meditation can reduce stress in expecting mothers – By reducing blood cortisol levels, meditation can elicit a deep state of rest in expecting mothers. Without meditation women in labour often experience stress and fear, which hampers the delivery process. Scientific studies reveal regular meditators tend to stay calmer during this process.
  9. Meditation can help you quit smoking – It is falsely believed that cigarettes reduce stress. In reality, the tobacco craving that comes after smoking for a while actually intensifies stress and anxiety. Instead of lighting a cigarette, why not choose an alternative that has been proven to reduce stress, like meditation? A recent meta-analysis designed to help smokers quit showed 2-5 times improvement in those who meditated than other groups that did not.
  10. Meditation has an anti-aging effect – Many researchers believe that the endocrine system is predominantly responsible for our aging process. Meditation can rejuvenate glands like hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal gland and others preventing age-related calcification which can slow the aging process.