20 Surprising Benefits of Meditation Everyone Should Know
For decades meditation practice has been viewed with suspicion and often thrown into the same ‘esoteric’ pot as crystals, astrology and palm readings. However, the situation is changing fast as more and more people turn to meditation practice, looking for silence, inner peace and tranquility.
If you have never meditated, below are some convincing reasons, why you might want to reconsider and give it a try.
If you are practicing meditation regularly (or at least trying to), keep reading anyway to discover all the physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits that you get while meditating!
Here is a list of 20 Amazing Benefits of Meditation:
1. Stronger, healthier heart.
Meditation is not just a practice to calm down our mind. It has numerous physical health benefits as well. Recent studies have found that meditation can protect us against heart disease and stroke (both leading causes of death in the Western world). Your heart can benefit from regular meditation in many different ways: it lowers blood pressure, improves blood circulation, and reduces cholesterol and atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the arteries that can cause heart problems).
2. Slimmer, better looking body.
I know it sound too good to be true, but, never-the-less, it is true – you can shed pounds without sweating in the gym!
It is not a secret that we gain a lot of extra calories due to our bad eating habits (like eating in a hurry or munching on something when we feel frustrated, sad or bored). Stress relief and relaxation provided by meditation promote more conscious eating helping us to eat healthier and, consequently, stay thinner.
3. Reversed biological Aging Process.
Biological age measures how old a person is physiologically, taking in consideration the functioning of the major organ systems. As it turns out, long-term meditators, who have been practicing meditation for more than five years are physiologically 12 years younger than their chronological age, while short-term meditators quickly reverse physiological signs of aging by 5 years! Try it for yourself and feel your body getting younger and healthier every day!
4. Reduced stress and anxiety.
Neurological studies of the brain show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves – associated with quiet, receptive states that can not be achieved during sleep or other relaxation techniques. This relaxed state combats worry and stress by efficiently lowering “stress” hormones and shifting brain activity to the calmer left hemisphere.
5. Stronger immune system and improved mood.
It has been shown that meditation can help produce antibodies against illness as well as lift your spirits, when you feel frustrated or sad. But the most remarkable thing is that these positive biological effects can last up to four months after the end of meditation training. Which means that it is enough to meditate for a couple of weeks to stay healthy for months!
6. Decreased muscle tension.
After a long day at work as little as 15 minutes of meditation can increase the circulation of oxygen to the muscles and help you cope with tension and fatigue much better.
7. Better sleep and a cure for insomnia.
Bedtime meditation is a great natural sleeping aid. It not only promotes deep and relaxed sleep, helping you to feel well-rested and energized the next day, but also cures insomnia. A recent study published by The American Journal of Medicine reports that 100% of insomnia patients who have been regularly meditating reported improved sleep and 91% either fully eliminated or reduced sleeping medication use. Not bad for a “relaxation” practice!
8. Reduced tension headaches and migraines.
Do you know that feeling when your head is filled up with so much pressure to the point where you think it might explode? A few times in my life I have felt like this. But since I started to meditate and do yoga my tension headaches have disappeared. This phenomenon has a very simple scientific explanation – the positive relaxing effect that meditation has on your body and your mind, eliminates the main causes of headaches (such as stress, muscle tension and anxiety).
9. Laser-like focus.
Contrary to what many people believe, meditation does not mean ‘zoning out’ and just sitting there with your eyes closed. In fact, regular practice will make your mind much sharper and quicker. A vast body of research shows that meditation hugely enhances our ability to stay focused and to quickly enter a state of “flow”.
10. Improved learning ability and memory.
In one of the studies dedicated to meditation, scientists tested whether meditation could improve our memory. As it turned out, it can! But even the researchers themselves were blown away by the results! People who practiced a 40-day meditation program did four times better in memory tests than a group of people who did not meditate. So if you cannot recall your spouse’s phone number or have a hard time remembering where you last saw your keys, take it as a sign to start meditating!
11. Greater control over your thoughts.
We may have conquered space and developed top of the art nano technologies, but most of us still struggle to conquer our own mind. No matter what we do, negative thoughts and self-doubt keep coming back, stealing our focus and draining our energy. Meditation is by far the most effective technique that helps us to calm our worried mind and keep the flow of negative thoughts under control.
12. Improved creativity.
If your work, like mine, largely depends on creativity, then your most valuable piece of equipment is not your laptop (I cannot believe I have just said that). It is your mind and its ability to generate new ideas.
However, in a world of constant distractions and worries it is not always easy to get into a state of flow and come up with something original. Meditation not only helps to calm down an overly agitated mind and improve focus, it also promotes the co-operation of our creative (right) side of the brain and rational (left) side of the brain, creating perfect “conditions” for brainstorming million-dollar ideas.
13. Greater intelligence.
How would you like an idea to get smarter, without studying harder? As it turns out – it is possible! To their great surprise scientists have discovered that meditation can improve brain development and boost our intelligence. Just like regular work-outs make our body stronger by building new muscle mass, regular meditation can hike our IQ up by 20 points by increasing the thickness of the cortex (neural tissue of the brain, also known as “grey matter”) in the areas that are involved in attention, awareness and thought!
14. Unshakeable self-confidence.
Meditation can help us to overcome moments of self-doubt and boost our self-esteem, by helping us stop the flow of negative thoughts, get in touch with our inner unique Self and become more detached from other people’s opinions and criticism. It has been shown that people who meditate regularly tend to perceive the world more positively and holistically.
15. Enhanced emotional resilience.
Regular practitioners say they develop a feeling of greater emotional equilibrium. Just by taking a small amount of your daily time to meditate you too can find an escape from your everyday worries, become more relaxed, more patient and more peaceful.
16. Improved decision-making skills.
When we feel overtired, overwhelmed or stressed out our the brain bypasses its “higher,” more evolved, rational thinking stages and starts using more primitive stimuli-response pathways that are responsible for such emotions as fear, anger and anxiety. Consequently, we respond to daily demands without thinking, making impulsive, shortsighted decisions. Meditation practice provides the experience of “restful alertness”, while helping us regain our ability for purposeful thinking and farsighted decision-making.
17. Enhanced Productivity.
This probably does not come as a shock to you – if meditation improves focus, creativity, decision-making skills and intelligence, it obviously increases our performance at work, making us shine and able to fully express our talents and abilities.
18. Better relations at work.
Recently conducted research showed that we can noticeably improve our relationship with our managers and co-workers after only 11 months of meditation. Interestingly enough, people who participated in the study reported that they felt less anxiety about promotion, although their fellow employees saw them as moving ahead quickly.
19. Greater happiness and peace of mind.
Is there anybody who does not, in some way, search for happiness? Meditation is the fastest ways to learn that happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances, but on our inner attitude. When we still our mind and just accept every moment of our life (without judgment, without regret), we suddenly discover a source of happiness, tranquility and love within us. And the more we meditate, the better and happier our life becomes, not because people around us change, not because circumstances change – but because we change.
20. Clear life purpose.
Usually we search for meaning in life through external events and other people, instead of looking deep inside our heart for the answers to the questions “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
When we meditate and let go of our ego and false expectations that have been forced on us, we gain a greater understanding of life through knowing who we are and by getting in touch with a source of eternal light and love inside of our heart. We start to live a life of purpose and all the doubts slowly disappear.
If you still have doubts whether meditation is for you, consider this – it can be practiced anywhere, at any given moment, by people of all religions, ages and traditions. It is absolutely free, requires no special equipment, is easy to learn and is takes only 15-20 minutes per day!
Therefore, if you are not meditating yet, the one question you should ask yourself is “Why not?”