If you originally dismissed meditation as a fad, you might be surprised that it’s stuck around so long. As the research poured in over the last few years, we now have evidence that meditation is linked to improved cardiovascular health to cognitive benefits. Science has even shown that mindfulness meditation can affect gene expression (source).
Meditation is well-known for the blissful feeling it gives the people who practice. Plenty of studies suggest that meditation is about way more than blissing out — we’ve compiled our top 5 ways that meditation can improve your body, mind and spirit.
Meditation eases inflammation.
You might be surprised that the effects of meditation go beyond your mind. In a 2013 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in the Waisman Center, scientists identified a possible tie between mindfulness meditation and the relief of inflammatory symptoms among people who suffer from chronic inflammatory conditions (source). We now have a deeper understanding of the number of health conditions that are impacted by chronically high inflammation levels. This finding suggests that your meditation practice can give you the power to influence the inflammatory process your body.
Meditation cultivates a healthy body image.
Who doesn’t have some sort of body image issue these days? It’s a continuous practice to keep our minds positive about our bodies when we’re constantly bombarded by images of photoshopped models. The good news is that being mindful (cultivated through meditation) may be linked to having a healthier relationship with food and your body, as reported by Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine (source).
Meditation boosts cognitive function.
It’s no surprise that calming your mind would have a positive impact on cognition. In fact, a study by the Association for Psychological Science (source) identified a link between mindfulness training and increased standardized test scores, as well as improvements in working memory. Scientists who study cognition also believe that regular meditation may slow or stop the thinning of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for declines in cognitive function, later in life.
Meditation eases stress and anxiety.
It does this by making us more aware of our thoughts, particularly, our negative thoughts. When you’re in a stressful situation like running late for a meeting, you might catch yourself thinking “I’m I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!” Mindfulness (source) cultivated through meditation will help you to be more aware of this thought process and create distance in you mind between your thoughts so you can choose a more productive line of thinking. Your body responds to the thoughts you think, so changing your thinking will help lower your cortisol levels (source). It all stems back to meditation.
Meditation Improves sleep.
Sleep is one of the most healing things we can do for our bodies. When sleep is compromised, we feel the impact in all aspects of our lives from our mood, productivity level, food cravings and energy. Research presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (source) suggests that meditation could be helpful in the treatment of insomnia. Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night. As it turns out, what you do during the day and improve your quality of rest that night.
Looking to get started with meditation? Check out a list of free resources at the bottom of this blog post.