We have all heard that meditation has a positive effect on health. Maybe these are just the words of people who have been practicing it for 10 years? Or are there scientific works that prove the benefits?
A study from Harvard University claims that meditation leads to changes in the composition of the brain’s grey matter. Just 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation can affect the functioning of the organs related to memory, stress and empathy. This gives a lot of bonuses, which we will discuss in this article.
Have you noticed that people usually list a few points about health and spirit benefits when people talk about meditation, but that’s where it ends? We do not receive enough information, we doubt the method’s effectiveness, and in the end, we decide that this is a profanation.
Many listen to advice but are not confident in their abilities: “I cannot think about anything for 10 minutes and sit with my eyes closed. I have no time; I have too many things to do. ” However, one has only to try, and you will immediately feel better: the brain seems to be “cleared”, unnecessary anxieties recede, sleep becomes deeper and stronger. It would seem like just a few minutes of silence, but it works!
There are over 3000 scientific studies on the benefits of meditation. Many of them say that even 10 minutes of daily awareness for several weeks is enough to feel a change for the better.
Nothing special: the person just rested, so he feels better, calmer and happier,” you say, and you will be only partly right. Studies have shown structural differences in the cerebral cortex of those who practice meditation and those who do not.
The former showed thickening in areas that are responsible for attention and emotional sensitivity.
Scientists performed brain MRI scans of 16 volunteers before and after the meditation course. After analyzing the results, doctors concluded that grey matter in the hippocampus increased over 8 weeks. This department is responsible for the formation of emotions and the transition of short-term memory to long-term memory.
Mindfulness adepts were also decreased grey matter density in the amygdala, which is responsible for anxiety and stress levels.
Improves Concentration, Attention and Ability to Work Effectively in Stressful Situations
A study by researchers from the University of California showed that people are more focused and able to focus on even the most boring and repetitive tasks after meditation. The experiment showed that even 20 minutes of practice a day improved students’ performance on cognitive tests. They also performed better than the non-meditating group of students on assignments that required strict adherence to deadlines.
Improves Information Processing and Decision Making
All the same, scientists from the University of California have found that meditation increases gyrification in the long term. In simple words, this is the formation of folds and convolutions, due to which the brain processes information very quickly. The more areas in the brain with increased volumes of gyrification, the faster it reacts to external stimuli and stress, and the faster the decision-making process.
Reduces Symptoms of Depression
Belgian scientists conducted a study of 400 students who practiced meditation during the school day. Six months later, doctors found that they had a decrease in depression, anxiety and stress.
Reduces the Frequency of Panic Attacks
The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, involved 22 patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder. They meditated daily for 3 months as a treatment, resulting in psychiatrists finding a decrease in anxiety levels.
Improves Pain Tolerance
A research group from the University of Montreal conducted an experiment where 26 volunteers participated: 13 people who practice meditation and the same number of those who did not. When the subjects were in the MRI machine, they were subjected to the same intensity of current discharges.
The first group told the doctors that the pain was minor, and the second was quite severe. Comparing their words and pictures, the scientists concluded that the results of brain scans of the subjects from the first group did not differ much from the pictures of the second. This suggests that even though the body actively reacts to pain, it is not regarded as strong in mind.
Helps Cope with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Meditation can help control the condition, according to a study of 50 people with ADHD at the Nijmegen Medical Center, Holland. Patients who meditated daily for several weeks noted a decrease in the level of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Prevents Burnout at Work
Multitasking is not only a dangerous myth but also a source of stress. Switching between different tasks exhausts the brain, leading to dissatisfaction with the work done. Researchers at the Universities of Washington and Arizona asked human resources specialists to meditate daily for 8 weeks and performed a stress test. Two months later, doctors repeated the test, which showed lower anxiety, anxiety and improved memory. In addition, subjects were less likely to take on new tasks instead of focusing on global tasks.
Reduces the Risk Of Heart Disease and Stroke
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death: about 17.5 million people die from them every year. Scientists worldwide are dealing with this problem and creating drugs that reduce the possibility of developing diseases. In 2012, a study was published that involved 200 high-risk people.
The doctors divided the patients equally and suggested that some of the regular exercise and eat right for 5 years, and others – attend classes on transcendental meditation (with chanting of mantras). After a while, doctors examined the participants in the experiment and found that those who took a course in meditation had a 48% lower risk of having a heart attack, and the second group – by 24%.
Reduces Blood Pressure
Another experiment gave similar results: two-thirds of the high blood pressure patients who participated in it recorded a significant decrease in blood pressure after 3 months of regular meditation. Scientists have found that this is because relaxing the body produces nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels.
Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and Premature Death
A recent study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and immunity suggests that just 30 minutes of meditation a day helps reduce feelings of loneliness and reduces the risk of heart disease, depression, and Alzheimer’s, which lead to premature death.
May Help Treat HIV
Researchers at the University of California have advanced the theory that meditation can be helpful in HIV treatment. CD4 lymphocytes are the cells that the virus attacks and destroys in the first place, and they are responsible for immunity. But HIV patients face another problem: numerous procedures, endless hospital visits, and bureaucratic red tape inevitably lead to enormous stress, which destroys lymphocytes and greatly undermines already weakened health. A gradual decrease in the number of CD4 lymphocytes in the blood is a characteristic sign of the progression of HIV infection.
Scientists say that because meditation reduces stress levels, it also stops CD4 cell death in those infected. The experiment involved 48 patients who meditated daily for 8 weeks. The result was impressive: not a single person had a decrease in their CD4 count.