Most of us live a rather busy life, being bombarded with an average of 120 emails per day, work, family, etc. This leaves very little room for anything else. At this very moment of my life i’ve chosen to add meditation as part of my daily routine. Here are 5 scientific reasons why you might want to incorporate it too:
1) Goodbye Sick Days!
First off, get ready to feel healthier as meditating regularly has been proven to improve immune function 1, 2. As a matter of fact, people that regularly meditate reduce the severity of colds by up to 50 percent 3. Meditation also helps balance blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. Inflammation is at the core of so many modern day diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid issues, cancer, etc) and meditation has been proven to decrease inflammation at a cellular level 4, 5, 6, thus contributing to a reduction in inflammation.
2) Be Happier
Bobby McFerrin’s iconic song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” comes to mind when I think of meditation. Meditation does in fact increase your positive emotions 1, 7, 19, thus decreasing the negative effects of depression and anxiety 8, 9, 10, 11. Furthermore, mindful meditation has proven to help lower your stress levels 8, 9.
3) Be Wiser
If you are often Mr. or Mrs. grumpy, meditation is right for you! It has been proven to help people regulate their emotions 12 and boost their self-control 1, 13. Like music, meditation also contributes to an increase in grey matter 13, 17, 18, crucial for finding balance in your life.
4) Be More Productive
For those who believe meditation is a waste of time, you’ll be surprised to learn that it in fact makes you more productive as it increases your focus and attention 14, 15, 16. It should therefore come as no surprise that meditating regularly also gives you more brainpower to multitask 15. As a bonus, you also have improved memory when you meditate 16.
5) Sweet Dreams!
If you’re parents you know the phrase “sleep like a baby” is not exactly something to look forward to, so I’ve decided to change it to “sleep like a meditating adult”. Proper sleep is needed every day in your life and meditation can help quiet down your mind and improve your quality of sleep.
I hope this will encourage more people to meditate and rip the benefits from this wonderful practice. A few minutes everyday can easily get you started!
Have you meditated before? If so, what is your experience with it? Share your comments below.
1. Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. Davidson, Richard J. PhD et al. Psychosomatic Medicine: July 2003 – Volume 65 – Issue 4 – p 564–570
2. Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Thaddeus W.W. Pace et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 87–98
3. Exercise, Meditation Can Fight Cold, Flu Symptoms. Dr. Bruce Barrett. Annals of Family Medicine. July 2002.
4. A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation. Melissa A. Rosenkranz et al. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Volume 27, January 2013
5. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults: A small randomized controlled trial. J. David Creswell et al. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Volume 26, Issue 7, October 2012.
6. Workplace based mindfulness practice and inflammation: A randomized trial. William B. Malarkey et al. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Volume 27, January 2013
7. Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Fredrickson, Barbara L. et al. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 95(5), Nov 2008
8. The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Cognitive Processes and Affect in Patients with Past Depression. Wiveka Ramel1 et al. Cognitive Therapy and Research. August 2004, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 433-455
9. Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Meditation Techniques as Treatments for Medical Illness. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2006
10. Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry, VOL. 149, No. 7, July 1992
11. Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. John J. Miller et al. General Hospital Psychiatry. Volume 17, Issue 3, May 1995 pages 192-200.
12. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Health Care Professionals: Results From a Randomized Trial. Shapiro, Shauna L et al. International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 12(2), May 2005, 164-176.
13. The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. Eileen Luders et al. NeuroImage. Volume 45, Issue 3, 15 April 2009, Pages 672–678
14. Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Amishi P. Jha et al. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience. June 2007, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 109-119
15. Initial results from a study of the effects of meditation on multitasking performance. David M Levy et al. Proceeding. CHI ’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems Pages 2011-2016.
16. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Fadel Zeidan et al. Consciousness and Cognition. Volume 19, Issue 2, June 2010, Pages 597–605
17. Long-term meditation is associated with increased gray matter density in the brain stem. Vestergaard-Poulsen P. Neuroreport. 2009 Jan 28;20(2):170-4. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328320012a
18. Grey matter matters for intellect. Helen Pilcher. Nature. Published online 21 July 2004 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news040719-11
19. Meditation’s positive residual effects. Sue McGreevey. Harvard Gazette. November 13, 2012