There are well over 100 health benefits of meditation. And you can take advantage of meditation in 20 minutes or less.
In this guide I will list the benefits of meditation that have been proven by science. AND I will show you how to actually take advantage of those 100 benefits of meditation.
I’ve studied bother the physical benefits of meditation and the mental health benefits of meditation. And the good news is: There’s so much to get out of meditating!
But you will get different benefits from meditation depending on how long you do it (15, 20, 30 minutes a day etc). And depending on the types of meditation techniques you do.
Intro: Creating this list of the health benefits of meditation
- To give the full picture I have researched both the advantages of meditation and the health risks too.
In this list I’ve put more than 100 advantages of meditation you can benefit from if you commit to the practice.
As a meditation teacher I am always reading about meditation.
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 meditation.
I have also converted this article into a PDF for you. I thought you might like it if you were able to print out this guide to the benefits of meditation, so I’ve put a PDF version at the bottom.
I’ve included infographics and visual elements to help you along the way.
Many people helped me in creating this guide. Not least, you guys, my Zen-sational readers. I truly appreciate all your support, as always.
Another note, I have made this guide for everyone.
A lot of different writers and bloggers have attempted to create a similar guide, and I truly appreciate the hard work that the community does in order to spread the word on meditation. That is why I have made this guide for everyone.
Please feel free to share any part of this guide. All I ask in return is a backlink pointing to this article. Of course you can share this on social media freely. I truly appreciate all your support in helping to spread the good word on meditation.
The Health Benefits Of Meditation Vary By Type
How many different types of meditation do you do? 1? 2? 3?
Well here’s a newsflash: the more types you do, the more health benefits meditation will give you.
There are over 700 different types of meditation. Advantages vary by type.
Each of the scientific studies that I read for this article looked at one or two techniques. For that reason I’ve included notes, where necessary, to point out the health benefits of meditation by different types.
This guide includes:
- Benefits of Breathing meditation (e.g. mindfulness of breath)
- Benefits of Buddhist meditations (e.g. Loving Kindness / Vipassana / Anapanasati / Samatha and other Buddhist meditations )
- Benefits of guided Meditation
- Chakra meditation
- Sound meditations
- The guide does not include some yoga practices like Pranayama / Pratyahara because these are not traditionally regarded as meditations.
That said, all meditation techniques that I have personally tried (which is over 200 types of meditation) do offer health benefits. Some of them have not been studied in full yet (such as Merkaba Meditation). But from personal experience I can say that they are beneficial. Hopefully science will soon study those other meditation techniques too.
Because I did not want this guide to become too overbearing I have also broken it down into sub-articles. For instance, if you are interested in knowing why meditation helps with depression, I have written a separate guide to that specific question. You’ll see the links in the article below.
So let’s get started. I’m really excited to share this massive guide with you. Here goes.
Physical Benefits of Meditation for Heath and Fitness
- Blood Pressure
- Weight Loss
Now time to get into the physical benefits of meditation.
- For evidence / research please read: Self Healing By Meditating
1. Benefits of meditation for oxygen consumption
Meditation lowers the rate at which we consume oxygen, and this in turn offers a great many health benefits. Researchers state that while you are meditating your oxygen consumption drops to 20%, which is a 10% reduction. This helps you to relax and is also very helpful for getting to sleep.
While you are meditating you relax, your heart rate lowers, and you breathe slower. Because of this, your body needs 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 your sleep. Even better, during this time, your body is given the opportunity to heal itself, as we’ll see in a moment.
I wanted to help everyone who is struggling to get those Zzzzzs. So I wrote a guide to using meditation to help insomniacs sleep.
2. Health Benefits of meditation for healing
Above, I mentioned that when you meditate you lower your heart rate, breathe slower, and lower your oxygen consumption rate. This essentially means that your body is having to do less work. That’s one of the biggest advantages of meditation.
Because your body is having to do less work, it is given an opportunity to heal itself. That down time, when your body is not working so hard to provide enough oxygen to keep your heart rate up, is basically the equivalent of a break. It’s a time when your body can slow down, relax, and heal itself.
3. Health Benefits of meditation for illness (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 center. The nucleus is surrounded by a cloud of electrons, which are negatively charged particles. However, at times atoms lose their electrons. This causes the atom to become a free radical, which can attack your cells. This process of cells aging, becoming free radicals, and then those free radicals attacking other cells, is one of the main reasons for aging. The solution? Antioxidant. Antioxidants are nutrition in your body. Antioxidants give their electrons to free radicals, which stops the problem.
Our bodies natural produce antioxidants, but stress, toxins, and other factors can make us damage more cells than we produce. And some of the worst causes of this are depression, anxiety, and stress.
Because meditation helps you to relax, and prevents and treats problems like stress and depression, it helps to slow the rate at which your cells are damaged. This decreases free-radicals and slows aging.
5. Heath Benefits of Meditation for Chronic Disease
One of the absolute most important health benefits of meditation is that it helps with chronic diseases.
Stress is the biggest cause of illness and death. When you are under stress your body responds with a fight or flight response. This response affects your entire system in seconds. Blood flow increases, and heart rate and breathing rate escalate. Your entire body is revved up ready for the fight or flight. When this happens daily you significantly increase your chances of illness. What illnesses are you more likely of contracting? Stroke, heart disease, digestion problems, diabetes, and more. And all because of frequent stress.
When you meditate you reduce stress and reduce the very many health problems that stress causes. Just twenty minutes of meditation will reduce your stress for days. So if you meditate for twenty minutes a couple of times a week you will substantially reduce the symptoms and compound health problems of stress.
6. Health Benefits of meditation for heart
As you know, when you meditate you enter a very relaxed state. Your minds slow down. Stress leaves you. Your breathing slows down so you need less oxygen. And because of all this, your heart slows down. 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 conductd 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 improved blood pressure. And a Harvard study by Dr. Herbert Benson proved that meditation dilates the arteries, which enables blood to flow more freely.
7. Health Meditation is of benefit to the skin
What can meditation do for your skin? A lot.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and a very important one. It protects you from disease. It protects your organs from temperatures that might damage them. It prevents unhealthy chemicals and substances from getting into your inner body. It is one of the most important ways in which your body protects itself.
Scientific research has proven that meditation improves your skin’s resistance and also increases the rate at which you produce new cells.
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. A benefit of Breathing meditations– lower the 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 where you focus on an object or sound.
When you feel stressed your body releases adrenaline that makes your breathing speed up and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Over a long period of time this stress response has a significant effect on your body. That’s why reducing stress is so important for your health.
Dr. Stein recommends that you find a type of meditation that works for you. He also suggests finding a group class. One type of meditation that Dr. Stein personally vouches for is Mindfulness.
9. An advantage of meditation for your respiratory system: Better breathing
What can meditation do for your lungs? A lot.
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 called “diaphragmatic breathing”. This is a technique in which you pull air deep down into your diaphragm. You will know if you are breathing diaphragmatically because your rib cage will rise and fall.
Oftentimes we do not breathe very well.
When you are stressed, for instance, one of the first things to be affected is your breathing. Have you ever noticed that you breathe shallowly when stressed? This is not ideal. It makes it harder for air to enter your lungs. And 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 your improve your breathing, helping air to enter your lungs.
10. Benefits of meditation for 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 proven that meditation helps to prevent and to treat asthma. In 2000, the Natural Therapies Unity of the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney Australia studied the affect of meditation on asthma. 47 asthma patients were studied. Half the group meditated while the rest practiced general relaxation techniques. The group that meditated observed a significant reduction in the symptoms of asthma compared to the other group.
11. Health Benefits of meditation for 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 then 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. This leads to improved mood, slower aging 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 aging process.
12. Benefits of mindfulness for immune system
Your immune system is one of the most important things for your overall health and well-being. It provides an essential role in helping you avoid illness. And it is directly related to both body and mind.
In the 80s scientists discovered that the immune system is intelligent. It understands the chemical messages being sent 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 beneficial that it can even help people with HIV.
UCLA researchers showed that people with HIV who practiced mindfulness meditation slow down 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 studied a group of biotech workers who meditated for 8 weeks. The results showed that after meditation the workers had substantially increased levels of antibodies.
As though this weren’t enough, meditation also improves functioning of brain areas related to the immune seystem, 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. Loving Kindness And Mindfulness Improve Hygiene
Personal hygiene and mental hygiene are very important for our health. Good personal hygiene helps to prevent the transference of impurities to the body. And good mental hygiene helps to keep our mind’s strong.
Scientific research shows that bad hygiene is caused by a few key conditions. Most notably, depression, lack of self love, and anxiety can cause both bad physical hygiene and bad mental hygiene. And a lack of mindfulness can 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).
Meditation can help. Research suggests that mindfulness and Loving Kindness Meditation are the most effective techniques for hygiene.
14. Health Benefits of meditation for allergy sufferers
This is directly related to the above.
The more stress you have in the life the harder it is for your immune system to deal with allergies.
Both stress and anxiety make your allergy symptoms last longer and also makes them stronger. 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 less effective. 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 does help your allergies. However, whether meditation is more effective than other relaxation treatments remains to be seen.
15. Big benefits of Meditation for arthritis
Drexel University is a research center that is highly regarded for its studies on arthritis. In 2010 Dr. Rosenzweig studied the affect of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on arthritis and other chronic pain conditions such as back 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 can have very low moods and may even suffer depression as a direct result of their condition. This negative mental state can increase pain symptoms and also 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 affects of meditation were different for different people. Some of the patients had significant improvements, some less so. However, Dr. Rosenweig tells us that Mindfuness Based Stress Reduction does offer an effective treatment for arthritis, mostly because of reduced pain.
16. Benefits of meditation for weight loss
This is a huge subject. So I wrote a big separate guide to losing weight with meditation.
An advantage of mindfulness is that it helps lower the symptoms of pre-menstraul 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 headache.
For many years, doctors have treated PMS with mood medications. But there is a healthier way to improve your mood, and that is meditation.
Recent research into the affect of meditation on PMS shows that meditation helps women to overcome the emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and that this in turn helps with the physical symptoms. Meditation can be used to produce relaxation and to heighten feelings of love and happiness. These emotions help your muscles to relax, which in turn can help to reduce the symptoms of PMS.
Source: National Library of Medicine
17. Meditation decreases muscle tension
Muscle tension is one of the most common health problems in the world. When your muscles are tense they remain contracted for a period of time. This is often caused by stress. Just think about the last time you were very 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 nee. 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 facts about 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 of 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 tell us that mindfulness meditation stops the decline of CD4 T cells. This slows HIV.
19. Meditation 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 wanted to test 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 group 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.
Source: Scientific American
20. One of the main physical benefits of meditation is that it improves energy levels
Meditation has been shown to improve energy for five reasons.
- It stops stress from sapping at your energy
- It boosts endorphins
- Improves quality of sleep
- Boosts growth hormone and DHEA (see below)
- Improves brain functioning
Because this is a broad subject, I’ve written a complete guide to using meditation for energy. Take a look.
21. Meditation increases our 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 helps the thymus gland. Helps prevents inflammation. And helps prevent depression and stress.
The good news is that meditation helps boost your DHEA level, 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, calming, 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 largely because of increased DHEA levels.
22. Meditation reduces sweating
One of the most interesting of these 100 benefits of meditation: it reduces sweating.
[bctt tweet=” Ever notice how cool I am? It’s because meditation literally lowers your body temperature. #OM @t_d_meditation ” username=”t_d_meditation”]
One interesting fact about meditation is that it makes you sweat less.
This is probably not the first health benefits 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 less people realise that meditation actually makes you sweat less. But it’s a fact.
How can meditation make you sweat less?
Well, it all goes back to points that we’ve discussed so far. Meditation reduces breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. This helps your body to cool down. Meditating actually helps to control your body temperature and also prevents tension in your muscle. So it stops the causes of sweating.
23. Meditation benefits our brains by reducing headaches and migraines
A study published in the journal Headache stated 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 minutes meditation sessions and yoga lessons. The group that practiced MBSR experienced on average 1.4 less 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 said that by practicing mindfulness the people “were able to have a sense of personal control over their migraines”.
Do you suffer from headaches? I wanted to help the millions of people who suffer from frequent headaches. So I wrote a guide to meditating for headache and migraine relief.
24. Meditation offers pain relief
This is very similar to the point above but worth covering separately because, of course, there are many causes of pain.
However, because so many people suffer from pain in general forms, I wanted to write a complete guide to help those people out.
25. Mindfulness reduces our dependency for medical care
A study in Quebec, Canada, showed that practicing 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 It think this says a lot about how and why we visit the doctor and why meditation helps.
26. Meditation reduces our need for pharmaceuticals
There are very many 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 psychosomatic problems. And as we have seen above, many of these psychosomatic symptoms can be relieved or cured with meditation. So meditation gives people a viable alternative to medication in many situations.
27. Benefits of meditation for sleep
Have you ever asked yourself how much more you would be able to get done if only you didn’t need so much sleep? Anecdotal evidence shows 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 practice meditation your mind is at a state that is closer to sleep. Plus, “restful alertness” already fills in lots of the functions of sleep. When you’re in that “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. Benefits of meditation for insomnia
As well as making you less requiring of sleep, meditation also 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.
I’ve written a complete guide to using meditation for sleep to get you started off on those Zzzzs.
29. Meditation improves vitality
Another good thing about meditation is that it improves 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 also 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 flow. This leads you to being closed off from the world and can reduce your energy levels.
By meditating, you clear your mind. This in turn helps prana to flow, which produces a positive energy that in turn creates vitality.
30. Benefits of meditation for sports
Huffington Post published an article that explains ten reasons why meditation makes you better at sports and athletics.
We’ve already covered many reasons why meditation helps with sports and athletics. 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.
31. Deep meditations is of benefit to the 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 up 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.
Benefits of Meditation PDF
I promised I would create a free PDF for you guys. Well, here it is. Just click the link below.
Download The PDF Version
Conclusion — There are just so many benefits and advantages of meditation
Over 100 benefits of meditation.
Personally I think we owe it to ourselves to meditate once a day. 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 millions of people. With that in mind, can I ask you a favor, 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, wherever you think people would like to see it.
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