There are well over 100 benefits of meditation. And you can take advantage of meditation in 20 minutes or less.
In this guide, I will list the benefits of daily meditation that have been proven by science. Plus, I will show you how to take advantage of those 100 benefits of meditation. Finally, to make sure this article covers everything, I have also written about the health risks.
Before we start, it’s important to know that you will get different benefits from meditation depending on how long you do it for (15, 20, 30 minutes a day etc) and the types of techniques you do.
In this list, I’ve put more than 100 proven benefits of meditation.
As a meditation teacher, I am always reading about meditation. I find that my research helps me to give the best online meditation lessons. For this article alone, I have read hundreds of scientific studies and analysed the data of over 100 institutes and organisations to bring you the ultimate guide to the physical and mental health benefits of daily meditation. There are more than 3000 research papers on meditation (Wikipedia) and as a meditation teacher who spends every day writing and teaching meditation, I have personally read an awful lot of them.
Here’s the list.
100 Benefits of Meditation Part 1: Health
1: Oxygen consumption
Meditation lowers the rate at which we consume oxygen [Mayo Clinic].
Research from Hari Sharma at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the Ohio State University shows that while meditating, oxygen consumption drops to 20 percent.
While you are meditating you relax, your heart rate lowers [Harvard Medical School], and you breathe slower. Because of this, your body requires less oxygen. In fact, while you are meditating your body’s oxygen consumption is at the same level it is when you are six hours into sleep.
When you meditate, you lower your heart rate, breathe slower, and lower your oxygen consumption rate. This is an ideal state for healing.
3: Eliminating free radicals
Free radicals are agents that attack your cells from the inside out. Your cells consist of atoms with a nucleus at the centre. The nucleus is surrounded by a cloud of electrons, which are negatively charged particles. However, sometimes atoms lose their electrons. This causes the atom to become a free radical, which can attack your cells, which is one of the primary causes of illness and ageing. The solution? Antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients in the body that can give their electrons to free radicals, which stops the problem.
Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants, but stress, toxins, and other factors can make us damage more cells than we produce.
Because meditation promotes relaxation and prevents and treats problems like stress and depression, it slows the rate at which cells are damaged. In turn, this decreases free radicals and slows the ageing process. [source: Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity from All India Institute of Medical Sciences.]
5: Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
Daily meditation helps with chronic diseases.
Stress is the most common cause of illness and death. Stress causes the body to activate the fight-or-flight response, which affects the entire system in seconds. Blood flow increases, and heart rate and breathing rate escalate. Your entire body is revved up, ready for fight-or-flight. When this happens daily, you significantly increase your chances of illness, including stroke, heart disease, digestion problems, diabetes, and more. And all because of frequent stress.
When you meditate, you reduce stress [VeryWell Mind] and reduce the numerous health quandaries that stress causes. Just twenty minutes of meditation daily will substantially decrease the impacts of stress.
6: Heart health
When you meditate, you enter a very relaxed state. Your mind slows down. Stress reduces. Breathing slows down so you need less oxygen. And because of all this, your heart rate normalises. Your entire system is then relaxed, which helps the inner organs to function properly. This, in turn, allows blood to flow through your body unimpeded.
Research conducted by the Division of Cardiology at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows that meditation regulates heart rate and improves blood flow. Another study by the National Institute of Health in 2009 shows that meditation improves blood pressure.
A Harvard study by Dr Herbert Benson proved that meditation dilates the arteries, which enables blood to flow more freely.
7: Healthier skin
One of the lesser known of these 100 benefits of meditation is its effect on skin.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and an essential one. It protects you from diseases. It protects your organs from temperatures that might damage them. And it prevents unhealthy chemicals and substances from entering your inner body.
Scientific research has proven that meditation improves skin resistance and increases the rate of new cell production.
When your skin cells age, they are gradually pushed out and replaced by newer skin cells beneath. But it takes time for the body to remove dead skin cells and to build new ones. The more stress, anxiety, and depression you suffer, the harder it is for your body to create these new skin cells.
When you meditate, you give your body a break. You essentially allow your body to relax and focus on what it needs to do, part of which is building new skin.
8: Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Heart.org tells us that “taking a few minutes to relax each day could lower risk of cardiovascular disease”. They recommend using 20-30 minutes of breathing meditation or other meditations in which you focus on an object or sound.
When you feel stressed, your body releases adrenaline. This makes your breathing speed up and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Over an extended period, this stress response has a significant effect on your body. Again, meditation reduces stress.
Dr Stein recommends finding a type of meditation that works for you. He also suggests attending a group class. One type of meditation that Dr Stein personally vouches for is Mindfulness. [Medical News Today]
9: Better breathing
Your lungs are one of the most important parts of your body and definitely the most important organ for respiration. But many people do not breathe correctly.
The best form of breathing is “diaphragmatic breathing”, a technique in which air is drawn deep down into the diaphragm. You will know if you are breathing diaphragmatically because your rib cage will rise and fall.
Stress leads to shallow breathing, which makes it harder for air to enter the lungs. The best way to correct this problem is by relaxing. Of course, there are lots of different ways in which you can relax, but meditation is one of the best.
When you meditate you relax, and when you relax, you improve your breathing.
10: Relieves asthma
Asthma occurs when a trigger (for instance, dust) makes your bronchi (airways) narrow and your lungs become inflamed. Mucus then develops that makes it even harder to breathe.
Several scientific studies have discovered significant benefits of meditation for the prevention and treatment of asthma.
In 2000, the Natural Therapies Unity of the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney Australia studied the effect of daily meditation on asthma. 47 asthma patients were studied. Half the group meditated while the rest practised general relaxation techniques. The group that meditated observed a significant reduction in the symptoms of asthma compared to the control group.
11: Strengthens endocrine system
The “endocrine system” refers to the glands that regulate tissue function, sexual function, sleep, mood, and metabolism, and that produce hormones. Those hormones instruct other cells about how to function, and they also instruct your glands about when to produce saliva and sweat.
Your endocrine system is given orders from your brain, which tells you when to blink, breathe, and other vital functions. But when you are stressed, your endocrine system is made to release hormones, which can lead to unnecessary and unhelpful bodily functions, like sweating when you don’t need to just because you are under pressure.
Research via MRI scans shows that people who meditate have more activity in the parts of the brain that regulate the endocrine system [NIH]. This leads to improved mood, slower ageing rate, and better immune system functioning. Meditation also reduces the rate at which your endocrine system deteriorates as you age, which is yet another way in which meditation slows the ageing process.
12: Boosts immune system
One of the most important of all the 100 benefits of meditation: It improves the immune system.
Your immune system is one of the most important aspects of your overall health and wellbeing. It provides an indispensable role in helping you avoid illness. And it is directly related to both body and mind.
In the 1980s scientists discovered that the immune system is intelligent. It understands the chemical messages transmitted around your body. Your mood, thoughts, sensations, and beliefs all affect your immune system. And when you meditate, you influence those messages.
Meditation creates a positive environment in which your immune system can thrive. And this is so advantageous that it can even help people with HIV.
UCLA researchers discovered that people with HIV who practised mindfulness meditation slow down the reduction of D-4 cell count. These are cells that your immune system uses to reduce illness. At the same time, when you meditate, you boost the production of antibodies.
Researchers investigated a group of biotech workers who meditated for eight weeks. The results showed that after meditation, the workers had substantially enhanced levels of antibodies.
As though this wasn’t enough, meditation also improves the functioning of brain areas related to the immune system, namely: the prefrontal cortex, the right anterior insula, and the right hippocampus.
This research proves that meditation has a significant effect on your immune system.
13: Allergy sufferers
The more stress you have in life the harder it is for your immune system to deal with allergies.
Both stress and anxiety make your allergy symptoms last longer and makes them more severe. Conversely, the more relaxed you are, the shorter and weaker your allergy symptoms will be. This is because when you’re stressed, your immune system is rendered ineffective. But there are steps you can take to counter this.
When you relax, you make it easier for your immune system to operate. For this reason, meditation helps with allergies. However, whether meditation is more effective than other relaxation treatments remains to be seen.
Drexel University is a research centre that is highly regarded for its studies on arthritis. In 2010 Dr Rosenzweig studied the effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on arthritis and other chronic pain conditions such as posterior pain.
The researchers studied more than 1000 people with arthritis and similar conditions, and they observed a significantly improve quality of life for people suffering from these conditions. Pain symptoms were also substantially decreased.
Dr Rosenweig associates the pain reduction with improved mood. Naturally, people suffering from chronic arthritis and other conditions frequently suffer from poor moods and may even suffer depression as a direct result of their condition. This negative mental state can increase pain symptoms and make it harder for the body to heal. Meditation improves mood and helps the body to relax, which helps to treat arthritis psychosomatically.
One thing that is important to note is that the benefits of meditation were different for different people. Some of the patients had significant improvements, some less. However, Dr Rosenweig informs us that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction does offer efficient treatment for arthritis, mostly because of reduced pain.
15: Weight loss
One of the most popular of all the 100 benefits of meditation. Because this is a popular subject, I wrote a separate guide to weight loss.
16: Premenstrual syndrome
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a variety of mental and physical symptoms that exhibit during menstruation. These symptoms may include depression, anxiety, bloating, insomnia, mood swings, and headaches.
For many years, doctors have treated PMS with mood medications. However, there is a healthier way to improve your mood: meditation.
Recent research into the effect of meditation on PMS confirms that meditation helps women to overcome the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. In turn, this helps with the physical symptoms.
Meditation produces relaxation and heightens feelings of love and happiness. These emotions help your muscles to relax. In turn, this can help to reduce the symptoms of PMS.
17: Decreased muscle tension
Muscle tension is one of the most common health problems in the world. When your muscles are tense, they remain contracted. This is often caused by stress. Recall the last time you were extremely stressed, and you might remember being hunched over, having stomach cramp, and feeling tight.
Whether it’s stress from family problems, work, or anything else, your physical tension can lead to health problems and can damage your nervous system. Muscle tension can even cause reduced blood flow, preventing your muscles from getting the oxygen they need. This can lead to short or long-term damage to your muscles.
Meditation boosts relaxation and helps blood to flow around your body, which in turn helps your muscles to get the oxygen they need. The result is healthy muscles that are not prone to tension.
18: Mindfulness can even help with HIV
This is one of the most staggering of all 100 benefits of meditation. It can help even help with HIV.
Your immune system uses “brain cells” that are called CD4T cells. These cells instruct the immune system about how to act when the body is under attack. HIV attacks these cells, which prevents the immune system from functioning properly, which leads to the symptoms of HIV. This can then lead to AIDS, the devastating condition that 40 million people currently suffer from.
Stress accelerates and worsens the decline of CD4 T cells. But researchers at UCLA report that mindfulness meditation stops the decline of CD4 T cells, which slows HIV.
19: Reduces viral activity, including cold and flu
Have you been suffering from cold or flu? No sweat. Meditation can help.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined whether meditation or exercise was better at preventing cold and flu. They took two groups of people, gave one group mindfulness training and the other moderate exercise, and observed that people in both groups were less susceptible to cold and flu.
Another test showed that people who meditate have 76% less sick days from September to May than people who do not meditate. People who meditate also get rid of cold and flu quicker, at an average of five days compared to eight.
20: Improves energy levels
Meditation has been determined to raise energy for five reasons:
- It stops stress from sapping at your energy
- It boosts endorphins
- Promotes quality of sleep
- Boosts growth hormone and DHEA (see below)
- Improves brain functioning
21: Increases levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), is an endogenous steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands (gonads) and the brain, where it functions as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of androgen and estrogen sex steroids.
DHEA helps your body fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. It stimulates the thymus gland, helps prevents inflammation, and helps prevent depression and stress.
The good news is that meditation helps boost your DHEA levels, so you get all the benefits listed above. When you enter a deep meditative state, you naturally raise your DHEA levels, and this helps with healing, relaxation, hormone regulation, and stress.
Dr Robert Keitch Wallace studied the levels of DHEA in meditators and non-meditators back in 1982 and found that meditators were biologically 12 years younger than non-meditators primarily because of increased DHEA levels.
22: Meditation reduces sweating
One of the most striking of these 100 benefits of meditation is that it reduces sweating.
This is probably not the first health benefit of meditation to come to mind. People tend to think that meditation helps with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, as well as relaxation and focus. Comparatively few people realise that meditation makes you sweat less. But it’s a fact.
How can meditation make you sweat less?
It all goes back to points we’ve discussed so far. Meditation reduces breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. This helps your body to cool down. Meditating helps to control your body temperature and prevents tension in your muscles. So, it stops the causes of sweating.
23: Reduces headaches and migraines
A study published in the journal Headache states that when you meditate you help prevent and relieve the symptoms of migraines.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center took 19 people with migraines and asked them to practice either standard medical care or eight weeks of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). This MBSR therapy incorporated 30-minute meditation sessions and yoga lessons. The group that practised MBSR experienced, on average, 1.4 fewer migraines a month and had less severe headaches. Importantly, the length of headaches was significantly reduced, with headaches lasting on average 3 hours less in the MBSR group than in the group that had received standard medical training.
The study author announced that by practising mindfulness, the test participants “were able to have a sense of personal control over their migraines”.
24: Offers pain relief
This is very similar to the point above but worth covering separately because, of course, there are many causes of pain.
25: Mindfulness reduces our dependency on medical care
A study in Quebec, Canada, showed that practising mindfulness and meditation leads to reduced cost of physician services because meditators do not need to visit doctors and physicians so frequently.
The study was specifically looking at medical costs, but nevertheless, I think this says a lot about how and why we visit the doctor and why meditation helps.
26: Reduces our need for pharmaceuticals
There are several reasons why people go on medication. And not all medication is truly necessary. You may have read the recent news reports about how doctors have been prescribing painkillers and anti-depressants often unnecessarily. But this begs the question: what makes people go on medication?
Often medication is prescribed as a placebo. And at other times people visit the doctor because of stress-related symptoms. At both these times, people are given medication for what is essentially a psychosomatic problem. And as we have seen above, many of these psychosomatic symptoms can be relieved or cured with meditation. Therefore, meditation is a viable alternative to medication in many situations.
27: Better sleep
Have you ever wondered how much more you would achieve if only you didn’t need so much sleep? Anecdotal evidence reveals that people who have been meditating for a long time may, in fact, need less sleep than everyone else. This is backed up by Buddhist texts that say that for experienced meditators, just four hours sleep is the equivalent of eight hours to everyone else. That four-hour number might not be entirely accurate, however. According to one scientific study, meditators do indeed need less sleep but only by half an hour.
So, why would meditators need less sleep?
Meditation produces a mental state called “restful alertness” that is similar to the state we are in when we are asleep. So if you practise meditation, your mind is at a state that is closer to sleep. Plus, “restful alertness” provides numerous of the functions of sleep. When you’re in the “restful alertness” state your body is already restoring itself and resting, so to an extent, you have already begun to perform the functions you perform when you’re asleep.
28: Helps with insomnia
As well as reducing the need for sleep, meditation makes it easier to get to sleep in the first place. This is a direct continuation of the previous point. When you meditate you train your brain to enter the sate of “restful alertness”, which is close to sleep. So when you hit the sack, you are already closer to sleeping than most people, and it is, therefore, easier to drift off.
29: Improves vitality
Another excellent advantage of daily meditation is that it enhances vitality.
Vitality can be thought of as the trait of being energised and living in the moment with zest. It is a positive psychological trait that makes you get up and go and helps you to make the most of your day. This is directly related to what Eastern philosophies would call prana.
Prana flows through your body, keeping your organs energised and your brain alive. Prana helps you to live in the moment. But many things can interfere with the flow of prana. For instance, anxiety and depression can significantly block prana. This leads you to be closed off from the world and reduces energy levels.
By meditating, you clear your mind. This, in turn, helps prana to flow, which produces positive energy that, in turn, creates vitality: Makes you better at sports
Huffington Post published an article that explains ten reasons why meditation makes you more skilled at sports and athletics.
We’ve previously covered many benefits of daily meditation for athletes. For instance, meditation increases your reaction times, so you can hit that tennis ball faster or tell where the baseball is going to go. It also gives you an energy boost. Add to that the fact that meditation prevents muscle tension, increases confidence, makes you better at communicating, and helps you focus, and it is easy to see how meditation makes you better at sports.
30: Improves mind-body connection
One of the best things about meditation is that it heightens your mind-body connection.
At the deeper stages of meditation, your mind is very relaxed. This state of relaxation lets your mind open so that it is more sensitive to feelings in and around the body. Your thoughts silence, and you become much more aware of your physical body. You tune in to parts of your body you may never have noticed, like the rhythm of your breathing. This puts your mind in tune with your body, so there is more unity and cohesion in your being. This produces one of the deepest and most restorative states you can find.
31: Loving Kindness And Mindfulness Improve Hygiene
Personal hygiene and mental hygiene are essential to our health. Good personal hygiene helps to prevent the transference of impurities to the body. And good mental hygiene helps to preserve mental strength.
Scientific analysis reveals that bad hygiene is caused by a few fundamental conditions; most notably, depression, lack of self-love, and anxiety—all of which are relieved through meditation. A lack of mindfulness can also lead to bad personal hygiene because when we are mindless, we are more likely to perform tasks that spread contagions (like putting a finger in the mouth).
100 Benefits of Meditation Part 2: Mental Health
There are so many mental health benefits of daily meditation.
As a meditation teacher, I am always inspired by stories of people overcoming anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems with meditation.
I myself once suffered from mental health complications. And it was only through meditation that I was able to recover.
Take a look at the mental health benefits of daily meditation below.
1. Brain electricity
A study by the Norwegian Institute of Science And Technology showed that meditation improves the electrical activity in the brain. [Science Daily]
Most of us have experienced those times when we simply zone-out, when we are restful and are not focusing on anything in particular. Those times offer your brain relaxation. But science has shown that when you actively practise an “open” meditation technique (when you are mindful of your environment without focusing on any one specific thing), you change electrical brainwaves that are associated with wakeful, relaxed attention.
Low serotonin levels are one of the leading causes of depression. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain pass information from one region to another. Almost all of your 40 million brain cells are influenced by serotonin. So it is easy to see why a lack of serotonin could cause severe psychological harm.
Meditation inhibits activity in the stress-production regions of the brain and increases activity in the regions that promote happiness. This raises serotonin development, which leads to a wide variety of psychological health benefits.
Mindfulness also improves willpower.
No one’s perfect. And a lot of imperfections come down to a momentary lack of willpower. Whether you’re struggling to quit smoking or can’t quite find the energy to hit the gym, meditation can help.
3. Brain synchronicity
Your brain is divided into two halves, the right and the left. Between those two halves is the “corpus callosum”. The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibres that allow the left and ride sides of your brain to communicate with one another. This is important because both sides of your brain play different roles. The right side is for creativity. The left side is for rational think and logic. It’s only by communicating with one another that those two sides form one powerful unit.
Meditation and binaural beats have been proven to enhance communication between the two brain hemispheres, which leads to more mental balance and better overall cognitive functioning.
4. Increases brain size
One of the fascinating benefits of daily meditation is that it increases white matter in the brain.
Yi-Yuan Tang, PhD, and a group of researchers at the University of Texas studied the effect of meditation on mind-body connection. They assigned college graduates either integrative mind-body training or a relaxation session. They took brain scans before and after 11 hours of these activities. The scans showed more white matter in the neurons around the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain responsible for self-regulation, in the people who practised mind-body training. They also observed heightened love, compassion, happiness and relaxation.
I created this little infographic to show you the benefits of meditation on the brain. Isn’t it amazing how meditation changes the brain?
5. Better reactions
Meditation improves performance on tests and reaction times. Scientists at the Department of Biology at the University of Kentucky tested whether meditation could help people to complete a psychomotor vigilance task. A group of people who were new to meditation spent 40 minutes meditating. They were then tested on the vigilance task. And all test subjects scored significantly higher after meditating. The researchers said that this showed a significant improvement in their reaction times.
6. Self confidence
One of the great personal advantages of meditation is this: meditation makes you confident.
Many of us in the West have experienced moments of low self confidence. But did you know, low self-confidence is incredibly rare in Tibet. So rare, in fact, that when the Dalai Lama heard that low self-confidence was a problem here, he did not believe it. He then set out to cure the problem.
He believed that if people in the West started practising loving-kindness meditation, their low self-esteem would be cured. And he was right.
When you meditate, you become aware of the interconnectivity between all people, and you gain a powerful realisation that you are not alone. This inter-connection helps you to feel more a part of the world and significantly improves self-confidence. This is a significant benefit of daily meditation, given how important self-confidence is to our wellbeing.
7. Helps with anxiety
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital tells us that meditation is one of the best ways of reducing the symptoms of anxiety. “People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power,” she explains. “They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.” Meditation, she says, helps people to distinguish types of thoughts in the mind so people with anxiety can control their “nagging thoughts” and reduce their anxiety.
Read our complete guide to using meditation for anxiety.
8. Helps with depression
Meditation is one of the best ways of both preventing depression and treating depression. There have been very many studies into the benefits of daily meditation on depression. One study suggested that if you meditate while doing vigorous exercise it will be one of the best possible treatments for depression. A study by the University of Exeter looked into mindfulness and stated that mindfulness is more effective than drugs at treating depression.
Read our complete guide to using meditation for depression.
9. Postpartum depression
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 11% and 20% of women suffer postpartum depression after having a child.
In 2015, Dr Dona Dimidjian [professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado] published an article in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in which she states that mindfulness can significantly reduce the risk of postpartum depression.
As well as helping with depression and anxiety, meditation helps with other mental health conditions, too. For instance, it is possible to use mindfulness meditation for OCD.
There are lots of different meditation techniques that can help treat addictions and cravings. But research suggests that mindfulness might be the best.
Researchers at the University of Washington studied 286 people who have successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program. They assigned them either a course of mindfulness meditation, a conventional relapse prevention program or a 12 step program. Results showed the when mindfulness was used in rehab, the chances of success were significantly increased. Only 9% of the people who had used mindfulness relapsed, which is 5% less than the other two groups.
Could meditation even help slow the ageing process? Research suggests yes. And it is actually quite easy to see how meditation helps with ageing when you understand the process of ageing.
Stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, these all increase the ageing rate. And as we’ve already seen, meditation helps with all these things. So by creating balance and health, meditation helps to slow the ageing rate.
One study, published in 2013, found that as little as 15 minutes daily meditation immediately increased activity of the gene that creates telomerase, which is an indicator of longevity.
One of the most amazing benefits of daily meditation is that it slows the ageing process. We’ve already started to look at this. So, let’s recap.
The ageing process is largely caused by the breaking down of cells in your body. Your skin cells, for instance, grow old and get replaced by new ones, but it is difficult for your body to produce cells fast enough. This gradually makes your skin weaker, making you age.
When you meditate, you give your body a break so that it can focus on working on those core operations (like cell production).
We’ve also seen how meditation increases the length of telomeres in your body. Telomeres are indicators of longevity. If you want to know how long you will live, take a look at your telomeres under a very powerful microscope. The longer they are, the longer you will probably live. Good news is that meditation increases the length of telomeres.
We all know that stress is one of the worst things for ageing. The more stressed you are, the faster you will age. And the reason for that is because stress makes it harder for your body to function. And we have looked at how meditation produces relaxation and stops stress.
Put all this together, and you’ll understand why meditation is such a powerful way of slowing the ageing process.
100 Benefits of Meditation Part 3: Cognitive Benefits
If you’re trying to boost your mind, you really should consider all the cognitive benefits of daily meditation for your brain.
If, like me, you believe in exercising your brain, then meditation is a must. The more you meditate, the stronger your brain will become.
For proof, take a look at these cognitive benefits of meditation.
1. Helps you make smarter decisions
One of the benefits of daily meditation that is very well known in the East but still quite unknown in the West is that meditation helps you to make better decisions.
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Center studied the effect of meditation on decision making. They found that meditators actually see different parts of their brains in decision making compared to non-meditators.
The study took 66 people and asked 26 of them to meditate while the other were the control group. They played an “ultimatum game” in which one person is given $20 and asked to share it with someone. The receiver may then accept or refuse the money. If the offer is accepted, the participants get a sum of the money, but if it is rejected, they both get nothing. Essentially, this is a psychological game designed to test your decision making. So what did the results show?
The researchers recorded the activity in each person’s brain when they made these decisions. And the results showed that non-meditators mostly use their anterior insula, which is the part of the brain used in emotional disgust. The meditators did not use this part of the brain at all, and this tells us a lot about how meditators make decisions. The researchers say that meditators make decisions more rationally and less based on emotion than non-meditators.
2. Makes us act with more control and in a more constructive manner
One of the best effects of daily meditation is that it increases self-control.
When you allow your emotions to get out of control, they can affect the way you think and can lead you to make bad decisions and to act in harmful ways. Research has shown that when you meditate, you gain control over your emotions and can learn to act rationally despite those emotions.
The journal Current Directions in Psychological Science published an article by researcher Rimma Teper at the University of Toronto which proved that when you practice mindfulness you become more aware and more accepting of your emotions and that this, in turn, helps you to act with more self-control.
3. Makes us more balanced individuals
One of the general cognitive benefits of daily meditation is that it makes us more balanced. It does this by helping us control our emotions.
There is so much information constantly entering our brains that it can be difficult to remain emotionally balanced and to keep a healthy perspective on life. Meditation can help to balance the brain.
When you meditate, you create inner calm and peace. This allows you to see through many of the phenomena of the mind (such as thoughts and visualisation). Meditation essentially clears those mental toxins from the mind, so you are able to see straight and reason. This balances your emotions, so you are able to see things in a better perspective.
4. Improves emotional intelligence
Meditation can help you control your emotions and can increase emotional maturity.
“Emotional maturity” is a highly subjective thing, because what, precisely, is emotional maturity? Generally speaking, however, we can consider emotional maturity to mean you have control of your emotions, you are not reactive, you don’t blame others for your problems, you are self-reliant, and you are a polite and reasonable member of society.
So how does meditation help with all that? Essentially, it comes down to mindfulness. When you meditate, you gain an understanding of your emotions, and this helps you to master them.
Edward Morler, Ph.D of Moreler International, tells us that a big part of emotional maturity is being in the now and letting go of the past. Meditation helps with this. When you meditate, you become aware of your thoughts and feelings, and you see them for what they are: unreal. This helps you to focus on the present moment and to make rational decisions not influenced by emotion.
5. Improves motor performance
One of the more interesting cognitive effects of daily meditation is that it improves motor performance and thereby helps you with lots of tasks, including sports.
Andy Rimol is a Princeton student and was captain of the basketball team. He wanted to test his theory that meditation made him better at basketball because it improved motor function. He believed that meditation would have long-term and immediate effects on perceptual-motor performance.
The results were clear. Meditators performed better at perceptual-motor tasks (these are movement-related skills). The meditators had far superior coordination. The test showed that meditation helps your motor skills both immediately and in the long term.
6. Effects of daily meditation on intelligence
An interesting cognitive benefit of daily meditation is that it makes you more intelligent.
How does meditation make you more intelligent? Six ways:
—Balances your left and right brain
—Makes your brain bigger
—Improves intuition and insight
—Improves Emotional Intelligence (EQ).
7. Job satisfaction
Another interesting fact about meditation is that it increases job satisfaction.
Dr Ute Hulsheger and a team of researchers from the Netherlands studied the effect of mindfulness meditation on job satisfaction. As we have seen, mindfulness is very beneficial for controlling your emotions, and that’s true at the office too.
The report, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, asked 219 workers at service jobs, like retail and nursing, to write a diary twice a day for five days. They also rated their job satisfaction. According to their own reports, the people who practised mindfulness had higher job satisfaction and lower levels of emotional exhaustion.
8. Helps stop overthinking
It is a well-known fact of meditation that it helps you to stop overthinking. And most of us can appreciate how important that is.
Countless studies have shown that meditation helps you to stop thinking. However, I feel that this doesn’t really need scientific proof. We meditators know full well how meditation stops your thoughts.
9. Focus and concentration
This is probably the most commonly known cognitive benefit of daily meditation: It helps you focus.
This is also one of the main benefits of mindfulness for kids—it teaches them to be more focused, which helps with school and exams.
10. Improves Creative Thinking
Scientific research shows that specific meditation techniques will boost your creative thinking immediately, even if you have never meditated before.
Cognitive psychologists Lorena Colato and Dominique Lippelt at Leiden University conducted research and discovered that a brief meditation session could have a profound and lasting effect on the creative brain. However, this is only true for certain meditation techniques. After practising “open” meditation techniques (meditations in which you are receptive to your entire environment and to thoughts and sensations), your creative brain is significantly improved.
If you need to boost your creative brain, meditate on the entirety of your environment, sensations and thoughts (Open meditation). This will also train your imagination
11. Helps us to learn and to remember
Whether you’re studying to ace an exam or trying to learn a new skill for work, meditation can help. This is why it is helpful to use meditation to help you focus through distractions.
There are two parts of the brain that are highly active during memory storage and recall: the frontal lobe and the Hippocampus. These two regions are highly activated during meditation. Meditation acts like exercise for these regions of the brain, making them stronger. This in turns, makes you more able to memorise and recall information.
12. Helps you to remove bad habits
Let’s be completely honest with one another. We all have some bad habits. After all, imperfections make us human. But there are times when you might like to get a handle on your bad habits.
Both mental and physical habits can interfere with your life. Nail biting, negative thinking, drinking. These bad habits get repeated over and over again until they are so ingrained in you that they happen on auto-pilot. The problem is that because you make these habits on auto-pilot, you often don’t notice you’re doing them. So how can you stop them?
The key is to practice mindfulness.
When you are mindful, you become more aware of what you are doing, and when you are more aware, you are more in control, which helps to stop bad habits.
Mindfulness gives you the ability to be aware of what you are doing. It makes you more conscious of your bad habits so that you can change them more easily.
13. Improves intuition
Everyone is naturally born with intuition. Intuition is the little voice inside that offers you advice and direction. But that little voice can be quiet, and you will miss it if you do not listen attentively. Thankfully, meditation can help.
When you meditate, and particularly when you practise mindfulness meditation, you silence your mind of unnecessary and unhelpful thoughts. That helps you to hear better, which in turn allows you to tune in to your intuition. When you are silent, you will hear your intuition. And the best way to find silence is with meditation.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston showed that meditation increases the thickness of the brain’s outer cortex, which is responsible for mental functions, including learning, concentration, and memory.
Researchers looked at longitudinal studies on the effects of people in Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction therapy. The research shows that MBSR increases grey matter concentration in the left hippocampus, cingulate cortex, the temporoparietal junction, and the cerebellum. This suggests that MBSR improves learning, memory, emotional regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective-taking.
In another study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, it was revealed that just 20 minutes of meditation improves results on memory tests.
Because of the effect it has on these parts of the brain, meditation improves memory, both short term and long term.
14. Mindfulness training improves productivity
Do you ever wish that you could get more done at work? Do you ever feel that you would be much more productive if only you weren’t distracted continuously? Meditation can help you to put your energy to good use so that you are more productive.
One study showed that eight weeks of daily mindfulness training could make employees (in this instance, they were human resource managers) less stressed and more able to focus on their jobs, which increases productivity.
15. Helps you see the big picture
When you focus too much on small details, you can get bent out of shape over nothing. For instance, if you are too concerned about a minor ailment, you might completely forget that you are 99% healthy person. Focusing on the 1% of you that isn’t perfect will then lead to stress, which will cause more of you to become unwell.
When you can see the big picture, you stop worrying about those little things.
The problem is that sometimes momentary problems seem large simply because they are right in front of us. But meditation lets you see past the current minor problem so that you can appreciate the full, big picture. And that’s a much healthier way to live.
16. Stops “Monkey Mind”
If you have been meditating for a while you have probably noticed those times when your mind seems to completely stop. You feel as though you’re stepping out of a tight space into a vast open field. There’s freedom and mental liberation. And your monkey mind stops.
“ Monkey Mind ” is a Buddhist term that refers an always noisy, ever-changing mind.
Buddhist philosophy has told us for millennia that meditation stops the monkey mind. Now, science has proven it.
In a study by IONS, PhD student Travy Brandmeyer studied 12 novices and 12 expert meditators and intentionally distracted them to see how their minds wandered. The results showed that experienced meditators suffer considerable less monkey mind than novices. But the researchers note that further studies are required to substantiate the findings.
17. Helps with problem-solving
One of my personal favourite cognitive benefits of daily meditation is that it’s always there whenever you need a little helping hand. For instance, you can turn to meditation when you need help solving a complex problem.
In one study, a group of German psychologists asked volunteers to try to complete a complex problem-solving task before and after meditating. Before meditating most of the group struggled. But when they meditated, the researchers say, they were more able to think outside the box to find a solution. The scientists state that meditation helps you to solve problems in creative ways.
18 Improves overall intelligence by balancing brain hemispheres
Are you good at some things and terrible at others?
For instance, you’re very creative but have zero logic? If so, it is probably because part of your brain is stronger than the rest.
Everyone naturally uses one half of their brain more than the other half (we have a dominant side of the brain). This causes an imbalance in the brain.
One of the scientifically proven benefits of daily meditation is that it balances the sides of the brain. This helps the brain to process information faster because it increases the rate of neural communication.
The result is better problem-solving skills, heightened creativity, improved focus and concentration, and better decision-making skills.
19: Meditating daily makes you smarter by literally Increasing brain size
Ever wished you had a bigger brain? Well now you can.
Scientists at the Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered that meditation makes your brain bigger (literally). Specifically, it makes your cerebral cortex thicker and increases grey matter mass.
Researchers compares brain scans between 20 meditators and 15 non-meditators. “Our data suggest that meditation practise can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and wellbeing,” said study lead Sara Lazar.
The meditators practised insight meditation.
If you’ve ever told yourself that you’re stuck with the brain you were born with, think again.
Because of neuroplasticity, it is entirely possible to strengthen your brain and make yourself more intelligent.
20: Improves brain wave patterns
Ever wanted to improve your IQ level? Then there’s good news. Meditation can change your brain wave frequencies, which will boost your IQ.
Some brain wave frequencies are healthier than others, for instance, alpha, theta and delta. These brainwaves have been shown to correlate to improved brain functioning, heightened ability to learn, and increased creativity.
Science shows that meditating is one of the best ways of controlling brainwaves.
The Norwegian University of Science And Technology studied the effect of daily meditation on brain waves. The researchers asked a group of participants to practice a type of open technique called Acem. While the group were meditating, the researchers took EEG scans of the participant’s brains. The results showed an increase in brainwaves that are conducive to a relaxed, wakeful state.
100 Benefits of Meditation Part 4: Relationships
1. Helps with infertility
5% of couples experience primary infertility, which is the inability to have any children, or secondary infertility, which is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.
Research shows that most cases of infertility are due to physiological or psychosomatic factors, which are usually identified in the woman. What upsets me is that 15% of people who experience this say it is the most depressing thing to happen to them in their lives. So clearly this is something we need to work to change. And thankfully meditation can help.
Stress is one of the leading causes of infertility. And stress can prevent people from getting pregnant after they have been treated for a physical cause of infertility. At both these times, meditation can help with relaxation, which increases the chances of getting pregnant.
2. Makes us more responsible
An interesting fact about meditation is that it makes us more responsible. This is because of the effect daily meditation has on relationships and mood. Meditation makes you more empathetic, more compassionate, and more in control of your own actions. Hence, it both motivates and enables you to be more responsible.
A Harvard study confirmed that people who meditate are more likely to give up their seat for a woman in pain. Dr Hölzel, who conducted the study, said that people who meditate “may be more willing to help when someone suffers.”
3. Makes us better listeners
Have you ever been listening to someone when you suddenly realise that you’re not paying attention to what they’re saying? We’ve all been in that position, haven’t we? Thankfully, something meditation is good for is making you a better listener.
The Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied the effect of meditation on listening skills in 2009. They found that when you meditate, you improve your attention and this, in turn, makes you a better listener. Even more surprising, it turns out that meditation is especially good at making you listen when you’re not interested in what the other person is saying.
4. For couples
Writing for Psychology Today, Marsha Lucas, Ph.D stated that there are nine ways in which meditating improves relationships. They are:
- It helps you react better
- It improves emotional resiliency
- Improves communication
- Enables you to respond in more flexible, less stubborn ways
- Improves insight
- Increases intuition
- Increases morality
- Heightens empathy
READ: Meditation for Couples.
5. Makes people less aggressive and less angry
The journal Consciousness and Cognition published a study that stated that meditation improves your body’s response to anger.
Have you ever experienced those moments when you feel angry, your chest is tight, you’re gritting your teeth, and you just can’t help but spit it out and say the wrong thing? Imagine if you had more control at those times. You would be able to respond more appropriately. This study shows that meditation lets you do just that.
The study highlighted that one twenty-minute meditation session improves your body’s response to anger by reducing breathing rate and heart rate, helping to balance blood pressure, and giving you more self-control. And in fact, people who have been meditating for a long time may exhibit no bodily response to anger at all.
6. Stops social anxiety
If like me, you have suffered from social anxiety at some point in your life, you will know that it can affect your lifestyle. But thankfully, meditation can treat social anxiety and make you more sociable.
Candance Pert [pharmacologist, neuroscientist and researcher at the National Institute of Health] and creator of Psychosomatic Wellness found that meditation releases endorphins that create positive feelings and cure social anxiety. Another study by Dr Sara Lazar compared the brains of meditators to non-meditators and found that meditators have thicker areas of their brain’s cortex, especially in emotion processing areas. This showed that they were happier and more confident, and thereby less likely to suffer social anxiety.
A Reddit user asked the community whether they were more or less friendly since they started meditating. The vast majority of people said they are more sociable. But interestingly, people who were overly sociable and who felt dependent on socialising said they felt less obligated to be social.
Meditation makes you more intimate with loved ones because of the other benefits that we have looked at in this list. For instance, meditation makes you more confident, so you are more comfortable being intimate. Meditation also makes you more aware, so you can truly feel your lover. Meditation also helps you to relax and be in the moment, and it’s easy to see how those qualities would help with intimacy too.
8. Loving Kindness improves tolerance and stops racism
Meditation makes you more tolerant of other people and can stop prejudices. And this is particularly true of Loving Kindness Meditation.
Alexander Stell, a doctoral student on the University Of Sussex’ psychology degree program, says, “Some meditation techniques are about much more than feeling good and might be an important tool for enhancing inter-group harmony.
“We wanted to see whether doing Loving Kindness Meditation towards a member of another ethnic group would reduce the automatic preference people tend to show for their own ethnic group.”
In his study, Stell took 71 Caucasian, non-meditating adults and showed them a photo of a black person. Half the group were asked to just look at the photo. The other half were asked to practise loving-kindness meditation and imagine sending out positive feelings to the black person in the photo.
The researchers studied the participants’ prejudices using the Implicit Association Test, which asks test subjects to describe the people in the photo.
The research shows that after loving-kindness meditation, people are more likely to describe the black person in the photo in a positive way. The researchers concluded that Loving Kindness Meditation is a powerful way to end personal prejudices quickly.
9. For love
Buddhists advocate the importance of “universal loving-kindness”, which is love for all people and animals. But naturally, this is not easy to achieve. The average person has certain prejudices, and even the most enlightened among us tend to have one or two people who we struggle to get along with.
Meditation, however, can increase your capacity for love. It does this in several ways. Firstly, it allows you to see past your prejudices by being mindful. It also helps you to accept other people, and especially their shortcomings. And it boosts compassion.
10. Compassion and empathy
One of the lesser-known and lesser-studied benefits of daily meditation is that it makes you more empathetic and more compassionate. But historically, this was one of the main reasons why Buddhist monks meditate.
Buddhists have always known that meditation improves empathy and compassion. And now, scientific research has proven that claim. In a study, a group of meditators heard the sound of a woman in distress while researchers studied their brains. The tests showed that meditators have heightened activity in the areas of the brain that regulate empathy and compassion.
11. Improves relations at work
It can be a challenge to maintain healthy and productive workplace relationships for one simple reason. Work is one of the most stressful environments. And when we are stressed, we become less receptive, less emotionally balanced, less empathetic, less compassionate, and less tolerant. That’s precisely why if you have a bad day at work you might end up regretting something you say. But meditation can help.
Meditation helps you to relax at work. Take a 15-minute mindfulness break at some point in the day. It will remove stress, help you to relax, and restore you to your normal, tolerant, patient self. And then you will have positive workplace relationships, and you will be less likely to say something you end up regretting.
100 Benefits of Meditation PDF
I promised I would create a free PDF for you guys. Well, here it is. Just click the link below.
Over 100 benefits of meditation.
Personally, I think we owe it to ourselves to meditate daily. But of course, that is entirely your choice.
I do hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful.
My passion and aim with this is to bring meditation to one million of people. With that in mind, can I ask you a favour, please?
If you found this useful, please will you leave a comment so I know I’m doing the right thing here? It would mean the world to me to hear from you. And if you would like to help me spread meditation, please share this article on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you think people would like to see it.