Examining the Science Behind Meditation

science of meditation

Many people start the practice of meditation because they’re looking for ways to reduce stress. As they continue on their journey, they begin discovering that there are some numerous other health benefits that help to improve health, happiness, and even social activities. The science behind meditation is strong, so here are some of the top benefits that science has noticed over years of study.

#1. It decreases pain. In a study where participants were given just 4 days of meditation training, pain and unpleasantness was decreased by 57%. The intensity of the pain that was felt was 40% lower than normal. For the average person, this means being able to take control of that joint pain which comes along when the weather changes or those chronic injuries that cause pain every day. There is evidence that meditation can help with emotional pain as well.

#2. It increases the amount of the brain’s gray matter. Meditation has been known to alter the way the brain looks at various areas of life, but did you know that it can also increase the size of the gray matter you have? In a study that evaluated the minds 44 people who practiced meditation on a long-term basis, they found more than just physiological or psychological control being exhibited. Those who meditate regularly had larger volumes of material in their right hippocampus.

#3. It improves your memory. In a study that measured verbal fluency, working memory, and visual coding, people who had not meditated before were given just four sessions of meditation or guided assistance and then assessed from their measured baseline. Just 4 days of meditation were found to improve executive functioning, help people be able to enhance their ability to stay focused, and even improve spatial processing of the mind.

#4. It decreases inflammation at the cellular level. Did you know that stress could be the cause of your body’s inflammation? Science has shown that when people are experiencing stress, they have cellular inflammation at the neurological level that can create a large host of problems. By instituting a regular course of meditation over the course of 8 weeks, those who focused on mindfulness at least once per day were able to reduce the amount of inflammation that was in their bodies. This leads to a number of additional benefits, from emotional stability to better sleep at night.

#5. It increases compassion. It is widely known that when people are exposed to negative situations on a consistent basis, they will typically become immune to them. Sometimes this causes people to look out for themselves first and not bother having empathy for others. With the practice of meditation, however, there is evidence that with one daily session is enough to alter altruism and change the neural responses that occur when there is visual evidence of suffering.

The science behind meditation is profound. The benefits of meditation are clear. There’s only one question that remains: are you ready to start meditating today?