At first, I couldn’t believe that a simple daily meditation practice affected my life so powerfully. So, I started doing research and devoured all of the scientific studies on meditation that I could find. I was amazed at what I found – it turns out meditation can transform nearly every area of your life.
Here are fourteen scientifically proven ways of meditation rewires your brain for happiness, peace and success.
1: Meditation reduces stress
Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Meditation is incredibly effective at reducing stress and anxiety. One study found that mindfulness and zen type meditations significantly reduce stress when practised over a period of three months. Another study revealed that meditation literally reduces the density of brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying. If you want your stress levels to plummet, meditation may be the answer.
2: Meditation increases your sense of well-being
Want to fill your life with happiness and energy? Mindfulness meditation increases your psychological functioning and the process improves your sense of well-being. Yoga and tai chi have been found to do this also – according to studies, they have significant therapeutic effects and increase the quality of life when practised regularly.
3: Meditation increases your sense of connectedness and empathy
Feeling a little disconnected from those around you? Try compassion meditation. Lovingkindness meditation (sometimes called Metta) is a compassion-based meditation that enhances brain areas associated with mental processing and empathy. It also increases your sense of social connectedness. Not a hugging person? You just might become one after trying metta!
4: Meditation improves focus
Would you love to add razor-edge focus to your life? Research shows that meditation improves cognition and increases your ability to perform tasks requiring focus. One study tested a variety of different meditation types, including Transcendental Meditation, Vipassana, Tibetan Buddhist Meditation, Sufi Meditation and Hindu Meditation, and found that they all improve focus by varying degrees. I used to think coffee was the best way to get focused – now I just meditate.
5: Meditation improves relationships
Want to strengthen your relationships? Meditation has been shown to better your ability to relate to others. How? It improves your ability to empathize, and it hones your ability to pick up on cues indicating how others are feeling. Meditation also increases your emotional stability, making you less likely to be influenced by any negative people in your life.
6: Meditation makes you more creative
Ever feel like you could use some more inspiration? Meditation increases your creativity, according to various studies. It’s no wonder that famous creatives like Yoko Ono, David Lynch and Marina Abramović make meditation a major part of their life.
7: Meditation improves memory
Whether you want to become a memory champion or you simply want to remember the name of that guy who works down the hall, meditation can help. Research has shown that it improves your ability to memorize things and to store and consolidate new information.
8: Meditation improve your ability to make decisions
There’s a reason high powered executives turn to meditation to help them do their jobs better. Studies have found that both mindfulness meditation and Transcendental Meditation help you make better decisions by improving the functioning of your brain’s decision-making centres. If you want to start cultivating your inner executive, give meditation a try.
9: Meditation helps people overcome addictions
Do you know someone who has struggled with addiction? One of the most beautiful effects of meditation is that it can help people overcome powerful addictions. One fascinating study found that Vipassana meditation can be incredibly effective at helping people overcoming alcohol and drug-related addictions, and similar effects have been found for various types of meditation.
10: Meditation improves cardiovascular health
Want to get some of the benefits of exercise by sitting in one place? Researchers have found that both mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of heart disease.
11: Meditation enhances your immune system
Do you get sick more often than you would like? Believe it or not, a variety of different types of meditation, from mindfulness to yoga, have been shown to strengthen the human immune system and make you more resistant to viruses and infections. Take that, cold season.
12: Meditation helps you find “flow”
Have you ever felt totally, utterly absorbed at the moment? Maybe you were playing a sport or painting a picture, and the world around you just seemed to vanish. This is called “flow,” and is a rare state where the human mind is operating in complete harmony with itself when you reach a challenge perfectly suited to your abilities. Meditation can help you reach this amazing state of mind, according to some fascinating research.
13: Meditation reduces physical and emotional pain (better than morphine)
Perhaps the most amazing benefit of meditation is that it has the capability to reduce mental and physical pain better than morphine. Yep, you read that right. That’s a pretty incredibly scientific finding.
14: Meditation takes you towards enlightenment?
Traditionally, the goal of meditation is to reach Enlightenment or a state of perfect happiness and understanding. Can you reach enlightenment by meditating? Who’s to say? Many people say yes, although science still doesn’t have an answer. If you’re curious, there is a podcast dedicated to interviewing people who claim to have reached some stage of enlightenment called Buddha at the Gas Pump.