6 Compelling Benefits of Meditation, According to Science
Don’t dismiss this practice as hippie hogwash until you consider these medical reasons for giving meditation a chance.
Meditation might be a more powerful painkiller than morphine.
Wake Forest Baptist University researchers found that meditation reduces pain intensity by 40 percent, which is significantly higher than morphine’s pain reduction rate of 25 percent, as reported by Forbes. In the 15-person study, participants’ were tested for their reactions to pain before and after meditation sessions; every participant saw a decrease in sensed pain after the sessions.
An “om” a day could keep your blood pressure at bay.
According to NPR, a doctor in Massachusetts asked patients with high blood pressure to try a meditation program for three months, and two-thirds of them showed significant decreases in blood pressure levels at the conclusion of the 12-week study. Don Joseph Goewey, author of The End of Stress, has written, “When people in various high-pressure organizations try these mini-meditations, more than 90 percent experienced a change in their stress levels; more than 75 percent experienced improvement in creative problem solving, well being, and work and family relationships.”
It might make you smarter.
In a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the National Institutes of Health, researchers concluded that another benefit of meditation might be that it prevents cogntivie loss associated with old age. In the report, 20 long-time practitioners of meditation fared much better on cognition tests than 20 non-meditators. (All of the participants were 55 years old or older.)
Meditating could improve your genetics.
A group of Harvard yoga scientists concluded that practicing meditation has a biological effect, specifically influencing gene expression. Published in the medical journal PLOS One, the study showed that energy metabolism and insulin secretions genes were heightened after one session of mindfulness meditation, while inflammatory response and stress genes were suppressed. A few minutes “in the zone” may have the potential to reduce your probability of stress and disease.
You’ll actually relax.
Marianela Medrano, PhD, a member of the American Counseling Association, says that she recommends mindfulness meditation to her patients who experience emotional turbulence and anxiety. “When you’re breathing, more oxygen goes to the brain, and when your brain is well-fed with oxygen you think better. They report the ability of being more in control of themselves,” she explains.
Meditation makes you happy.
A pilot study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the National Institutes of Health found that practicing meditation could reduce depressiveness and improve mental functioning. In the experiment, 39 dementia caregivers were instructed to either relax or meditate for at least 12 minutes a day for eight weeks. At the end of the two-month period, the meditation group had better scores on depression and health composites tests than the relaxation group. The meditators also showed a 43 percent improvement in telomerase activity (the enzyme that keeps cells from aging) compared to the relaxers’ 3.7 percent improvement. Although the researchers plan to experiment further, they maintain that meditation is linked to better cellular activity and lower levels of depression.