Meditation has so many documented benefits now, it’s a bit like brushing your teeth. If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it, but here are a dozen reasons you’ll want to add meditation to your life in 2018 if you haven’t already developed a regular practice:
Multiple studies show that meditation can help you develop more focus. In one study conducted by an Italian neuroscientist, Giuseppe Pagnoni, meditators had more stability in their ventral posteromedial cortex (vPMC) compared to non-meditators. The vPMC, a region linked to spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering, lies on the underside of the brain, in the middle of the head. Pagnoni says that this area of the brain is important because it is almost always active. Learning how to direct its action can help us learn to focus better.
College students are often easy targets for meditation experiments, but they are a relatively wonderful sample, because who isn’t stressed out in their college years? A study of undergrads found their regular meditation helped them to fee less stressed, and deal with their coursework demands, and financial burdens with greater acumen. Image what meditation can do for those of us in the uber-stressed “real” world.
Even in individuals deemed “clinically anxious” meditation has offered some profound results. By lowering cortisol levels, and calming over-active areas of the brain while stimulating the prefrontal cortex (where we process emotions and experience creative insight, primarily) anxiety is greatly lessened. Meditation also helps us to withdraw our senses from the sights, smells, touches, feelings, and other sensory stimulation which can cause us to feel frazzled and overwhelmed. This sense withdrawal helps to restore balance and calm.
Fewer Negative Thoughts, More Forgiveness
If you are done with anger and resentment, and want to forgive yourself our others once and for all, meditation is key. In a recent study, researchers showed people images that would trigger anger and resentment. Participants experienced an increase in their heart rate and blood pressure up to 250 percent after just four seconds of seeing these images. Four seconds later, as they redirected their thoughts toward empathy and forgiveness in a guided meditation, their heart rate and blood pressure dropped by 200 percent.
Stress is one of the biggest killers of health. If meditation did nothing more than just lower your stress levels, it would likely help you to live longer however, there are additional documented “miracles” that meditation achieves to help us experience longevity and vitality. Meditation lengthens telomeres — literally thought to be a fountain of youth! Telomeres, the tips of the chromosomes are the way your cells ward off old age, disease, and physical decline. If you want to live younger, meditate.
Change Your DNA
Just like the Soul Reprogramming Method, meditation can change your DNA. Not only does meditation change the length of the chromosomes, as described above, but the practice alters how our body heals, allows us to recover more quickly from stress, and boosts immunity – all from the level of DNA. Even cancer patients have been able to change their genetic make-up using meditation.
Develop More Neuroplasticity
Tibetan Buddhist monks that were researched in a meditation study were found to have high levels of neuroplasticity – a term referring to our ability to develop new neurons and use them in novel ways. The good news is that you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to get the same benefits of meditation. Even short amounts of practice – like 30 minutes at a time – change how the brain’s neurons communicate with one another, and how the brain creates neural networks.
Quiet the Monkey Mind
One of the most under-rated by-products of meditation is its ability to calm the “Monkey Mind.” This analogy describing how the brain is always thinking, jumping from tree to tree, without necessarily serving us with coherent or productive thought has been used for centuries by multiple cultures to describe a busy, hectic mind. When we practice meditation, we can calm that monkey, so that he at least pauses a moment between trees, and we can make more conscious, loving, empathic decisions in every area of life.
Reduce Physical and Emotional Pain
Meditation is amazing at reducing both physical and mental duress. Some studies say it can reduce emotional strain by 44% after just one session. Another study linked meditation to reduced inflammation, which often causes many forms of pain from arthritis to low back pain. Meditation also alters sensory, cognitive, and emotional factors which contribute to both physical and mental pain, acting as a natural opiod in the brain. In some cases, it works even better than strong pain killers!
Exercise More Emotional Control
Imagine speeding toward a yellow light when you are driving and not being able to put on the breaks when you know the light about to turn yellow. This is very similar to how most of us run our emotions on a day-to-day basis. Emotional control through meditation allows us to pump the breaks when we are feeling angry or upset, and to put our feelings into more constructive words and actions.
Achieve Your Goals
With more calm, more intellectual acumen, more positive control over our emotions and added focus, it becomes much easier to define and achieve our goals. Mediation helps to promote all of these positive life skills, so achieving our dreams becomes more than possible – but probable.
Grow More Empathic
Turning our inner eye toward our relationships with others – a skill developed in meditation, makes us more empathic. Certain meditation practices allow us to change from “self-centered,” to “other-centered.: This translates to activating more mirror neurons in the brain so we an understand what others are feeling with greater ease. When we are more empathic, and less narcissistic, smoother communication, and greater connection with others is possible.