What are the Benefits of Meditation?

STRESS

All of us feel stress from time-to-time. It’s a natural part of life. In fact, a little stress is actually healthy for you. But only a little. When stress overwhelms you, it can have serious health implications including anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.

Research suggests that in-person Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs may help manage stress. In fact, a systematic review of 17 MBSR studies found the program to be effective in reducing psychological and physiological symptoms of stress.1

ANXIETY

Anxiety currently affects about one in fourteen people worldwide. That’s 7.3% of the total world population.2 A systematic review of in-person meditation training found that 69% of the studies analyzed showed meditation practice alleviated symptoms of anxiety.3

SLEEP

Up to one third of people experience issues such as difficulty falling asleep4 and staying asleep while one in ten are said to experience insomnia regularly.5

A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials for insomnia found that eight weeks of in-person meditation training significantly improved total waking time and sleep quality in patients with insomnia.6

LOVING

A study evaluating the benefits of an in-person mindfulness-based relationship enhancement program suggests that mindfulness enhances couples’ levels of relationship satisfaction, autonomy, closeness and acceptance of each other, while reducing relationship distress.7 In fact, three months after participating in the study, couples were still experiencing these improvements.

COGNITION

Scientists investigated the effects of a brief in-person meditation training program on cognition and their findings suggest that meditating for just four days is enough to improve novice meditators’ working memory, executive functions and their ability to process visual information.8

Another paper reviewing the neural effects of in-person meditation training found that meditation leads to activation in brain regions involved in self-regulation, problem-solving, adaptive behaviour and interoception.9


References
  1. Sharma, M., & Rush, S. E. (2014). Mindfulness-based stress reduction as a stress management intervention for healthy individuals a systematic review. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 19(4), 271-286.
  2. Baxter, A. J., Scott, K. M., Vos, T., & Whiteford, H. A. (2013). Global prevalence of anxiety disorders: a systematic review and meta-regression. Psychological Medicine, 43(05), 897-910.
  3. Chen, K. W., Berger, C. C., Manheimer, E., Forde, D., Magidson, J., Dachman, L., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). Meditative therapies for reducing anxiety: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. Depression and anxiety, 29(7), 545-562.
  4. National Health Service (UK). (2013).
  5. National Sleep Foundation (US). (2013).
  1. Gong, H., Ni, C. X., Liu, Y. Z., Zhang, Y., Su, W. J., Lian, Y. J., ... & Jiang, C. L. (2016). Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 89, 1-6.
  2. Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior therapy, 35(3), 471-494.
  3. Zeidan, F., Johnson, S. K., Diamond, B. J., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and cognition, 19(2), 597-605.
  4. Boccia, M., Piccardi, L., & Guariglia, P. (2015). The meditative mind: A comprehensive meta-analysis of MRI studies. BioMed research international, 2015.