Meditation has been proven to be helpful to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. In order to maintain a consistent and inspiring meditation practice, it's important to remember the specific benefits of meditation and your own personal intention for meditating.
Below, you'll find 12 empirically supported healing benefits of meditation, including links to scientific research articles on each topic.
12 Essential Healing Benefits of Consistent Meditation
1. Stress Reduction
Meditation can counteract the impact of stress in your body by increasing your body's relaxation response. Quieting the mind and reducing excessive thoughts through meditation can help you to feel less stressed out and more mentally and physically relaxed.
2. Reduces Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Meditating can help to mitigate symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve your mood, and quality of life. Meditation practices that involve deep breathing, visualization, and present moment awareness can regulate your nervous system and help you to gain command over your thoughts.
3. Improves Your Vagal Tone
The gut is often thought of as the second brain because it contains upwards of 100 million neurons that also produce neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain. This pathway of communication between the gut and the brain, also known as the vagus nerve, plays an essential role in your mental health. When there’s inflammation in the gut, the vagus nerve sends this inflammatory message to the brain, triggering symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meditation can reduce gut inflammation and improve your vagal tone, which changes the signal that you're sending to your brain. Meditating can reduce your heart rate and reduce inflammation in the body, which increases your relaxation and improves your vagal tone.
Read more: Discover how inflammation in the gut can impact your vagal tone and mental health.
4. Better Sleep Quality
The quality of your sleep has a direct impact on your physical health and mental well-being. Many people struggle with not being able to get enough sleep to feel rested and energized in the morning. Meditating can improve your quality of sleep by reducing stress, slowing down your heart rate, and quieting the mind.
5. Improves Cognitive Functioning
Meditation can increase your gamma, alpha, and beta brain waves, which are associated with cognitive functioning. Consistent meditation can improve your ability to focus, concentrate, and learn more effectively, retain information, and recall memories.
6. Enhances Your Ability to be in the Present Moment
Present moment awareness has been linked to greater happiness, more enjoyment of life, increased feelings of gratitude and acceptance, and improvements in relationships.
Read more: Learn 3 uncomplicated meditation practices to help you increase your state of mindful presence.
7. Improves Your Immune System
Researchers have found that stress can suppress your immune system response, and puts you at an increased risk for infections and diseases. Managing your stress level through meditation can help to improve your immune system.
8. Lowers Blood Pressure
Meditation practices can stimulate your body's production of telomerase, an enzyme that has been linked to lowering blood pressure, which in turn, can decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease.
9. Improves Digestion
Meditation can reduce gut inflammation and induce a state of relaxation, which helps your body to digest and metabolize food and retain nutrients more effectively.
10. Pain Management
Meditative practices can reduce stress, which in turn, reduces the intensity of acute and chronic pain. Meditation can also decrease anxiety related to pain, increase your tolerance for pain, and also change your perception of pain.
11. Enhances Intuition and Healing
Meditation can activate theta and delta brain waves. These brain waves are associated with heightened states of relaxation, enhanced intuition, and healing.
Read more: Explore 4 powerful breathing practices to reduce stress and increase relaxation and mindfulness.
12. Increases Your Grey Matter
Grey matter refers to the cells and neurons in the brain that affect your muscle control, sensory perception, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Stress, trauma, substance use, environmental, and other lifestyle factors can cause grey matter to decrease as you get older. This is one of the reasons why people’s memory deteriorates as they age. When researchers studied neuroimaging of people's brains before and after 8 weeks of daily meditation, they found significant changes to the grey matter in the brain structure. In another study, researchers found that the grey matter in the brain's of 50-year-old long-term meditators was comparable to the grey matter in the brain's of 25-year-olds.