5 Benefits of Meditation Backed by Science
Is meditation a part of your daily self-care routine? If not, there’s plenty of evidence that could make you reconsider. The health benefits of meditation are numerous and include far more than just unlocking your inner peace. Recent scientific findings show that meditation helps ease anxiety, lessen stress, and may even lower your blood pressure.
Read on for five major benefits of meditation that are actually backed by science and research.
5 Benefits of Meditation Backed by Science
1. Supports brain health
Meditation doesn’t just have psychological benefits — it has physiological benefits, too. Research published in the July 2016 edition of NeuroImage found that 50-year-olds who maintained a long-term meditation practice had larger brains (equivalent to people 7.5 years younger) compared with their same-age peers who did not meditate. This research indicates that meditation could be beneficial for brain preservation.
Other research touts similar findings, stating a close link between meditation and brain structure. And, meditation might be a useful tool to maintain brain “strength” as we age.
2. Manages anxiety and stress
Meditation can help ease daily anxiety and stress, too. A 2012 study published in Psychiatry Research found that the amygdala — the area in the brain that initiates the fight-or-flight stress response — shrank in people who meditated daily for eight weeks. This connection to your fight-or-flight response is how yoga and meditation can help mitigate anxiety.
“Meditation helps to slow or quiet these incessant thoughts that are constantly streaming through our heads.” says Keisa Parrish, RYT 500, a yoga teacher and mindfulness instructor.
Research from 2016 also found that people who meditated regularly had fewer flare-ups of stress hormones compared with non-meditators. Experienced meditators also reported boosted well-being and resilience.
3. Supports overall emotional health
A consistent meditation practice can boost your overall sense of well-being. One 2011 study in Neuroscience Research found that people who meditate are less affected by the bad or negative things in life, and they are able to process “posi vibes” in the same beneficial way.
Other studies show that meditation can help with burnout. The conclusion to a 2016 study found that meditation is an efficient method for medical practitioners to combat burnout and enhance overall wellness. Sounds like meditation is doctor’s orders!
4. Improves memory and attention
When your brain is foggy, paying attention and remembering details can be extremely difficult. According to a 2019 study in Behavioral Brain Research, meditation can help with overall memory. The study specifically found that after only eight weeks of 13 minutes of daily meditation, participants had better attention, working memory, and recognition memory.
5. May promote healthy blood pressure
Meditation can relax more than your muscles. “When you incorporate deep breathing, it also slows and regulates the heart rate,” says Parrish. That may also apply to blood pressure.
A 2015 review and meta-analysis found that a type of meditation called Transcendental Meditation does have potential benefits for hypertension, though more research needs to be done.
Ready to reap all the benefits of meditation? Start with Openfit’s Sound Meditation series, led by Scarlett de la Torre, creates soothing frequencies using “singing bowls,” a harp, a didgeridoo, gongs, and other harmonic instruments. Each session lasts 10 to 45 minutes and is designed to shift your brain into a more relaxed, meditative state.
- Estimating brain age using high-resolution pattern recognition: Younger brains in long-term meditation practitioners www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1053811916300404
- Searching for the philosopher's stone: promising links between meditation and brain preservation nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nyas.13082
- Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/
- Reduced stress and inflammatory responsiveness in experienced meditators compared to a matched healthy control group www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453016300439
- Impact of meditation on emotional processing—A visual ERP study www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168010211001581
- Effect of heartfulness meditation on burnout, emotional wellness, and telomere length in health care professionals www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20009666.2016.1270806
- Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016643281830322X
- Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis www.nature.com/articles/jhh20156