Scientific Benefits of Meditation

tinybuddha.com

tinybuddha.com

Meditation is becoming increasingly popular in the Western civilizations. What has been used for years in Buddhist & Hindu traditions has morphed into a health benefiting routine in the western day. There is growing evidence to show that meditation can make you physically, mentally and emotionally healthier & happier. Earliest accounts of meditation (Dhyana) date back to 1500 BCE where they were found in the Hindu tradition of Vedantism. The Vedas discussed meditation traditions of ancient India. Around the 5th & 6th century BCE, other forms of meditation developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India. Today meditation is taking the world by a storm and research is finding so many health & wellness benefits by adding this mindful practice to our daily lives.

  • Meditation has been found to reduce depression. A study conducted at five middle schools in Belgium involving 400 students concluded,  "students who followed an in-class mindfulness program reported a reduction in depression, anxiety & stress up to 6 months later."
  • Longterm meditation enhances the ability to generate gamma waves in the brain. Gamma waves are important to obtain optimal brain performance. Gamma waves help the brain recall memories more easily helping to prevent early onset of Alzheimers. In a study done with Tibetan Buddhist monks conducted by Richard Davidson, found that novice meditators, "showed a slight increase in gamma activity." When they did a brain scan of the Tibetan monks however, "they showed an extremely large increase in gamma activity that has never been reported before in neuroscience literature."
  • Meditation improves your focus, attention and ability to work under stress. A study led by Katherine Maclean suggested that during and after meditation training, subjects had better focus especially on boring  and repetitive tasks. Studies have also shown that those who meditated 20 mins a day were able to improve their performance on tests of cognitive skills, in some cases ten times better than the group that didn't meditate.
jonlieffmd.com

jonlieffmd.com

 

  • Meditation helps with decision making and information processing. Longterm meditators have larger amounts of gyrification ("folding" of the cortex, which allows the brain to process information faster.)
  • Mindful practices help give you mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence. 
  • It can help make your more pain resilient. A research group from a study done in the University of Montreal exposed 13 Zen masters and 13 comparable non-practitioners to equal degrees of painful heat while measuring brain activity using a functional magnetic resonance image scanner (fMRI). The Zen masters reported less pain sensations than those who did not practice meditation.
  • Meditation helps manage ADHD. ADHD patients in group that was submitted to MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) demonstrated reduced hyperactivity, reduced impulsivity, and higher "act-with-awareness" skills. 
  • Studies have shown that those who practice mindfulness are better able to allocate limited brain resources. When the brain is presented with two targets one right after the other to pay attention to (only a half a second difference from each other) the second target is usually not seen, this is called "attentional blink". In a study conducted by the University of California, a stream of letter were shown on a computer screen in rapid succession. Those who underwent three months of intense Vipassana Meditation were found to have better control over their distribution of attention and perception resources. Which resulted in a less likely chance to have an "attentional blink".
  • Mindful meditation fosters creativity. A research study done in the Netherlands demonstrated that the practice of "open monitoring" meditation has positive effects in creativity and divergent thinking. Participants who followed the practice performed better in a task where they were asked to creatively come up with new ideas. 
  • Meditation reduces risk of heart dis-ease and stroke. In a study published in 2012, a group of 200 high-risk individuals were asked to either take health education or take a class on transcendental meditation. During the the 5 years researchers found that those participants that took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Mediation "significantly reduced risk of mortality, myocardial infraction and stroke in coronary heart disease patients due to lowered blood pressure & lowered psychological stress factors."
  • Loving Kindness Meditation also known as Metta meditation (one of my favorite) is said to help improve empathy and positive relationships. Metta, is where practitioners develop a sense of benevolence and care toward all living beings. Such exercises boosts ones ability to empathize with others by way of reading facial expressions. It also helps produce "a loving attitude towards oneself and others, it also helps with self-acceptance, social support received and positive relations with others."

In the most beautiful nutshell meditation and mindful practices keeps you mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. It helps awaken the creativity lying within you and helps prevent dis-ease, improves your brain wave performance helping to conquer tasks with focus and in an appropriate allotted timeframe.