More and more scientific studies are interested in the benefits of meditation. This inexpensive, easy-to-implement practice with no side effects appears to promote concentration, reduce cardiovascular problems and reduce pain.

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The meditation is gaining popularity, especially mindfulness meditation . But what can the practice of meditation bring to your health? Here are five good reasons to be interested.

1. Meditation promotes mental well-being

Different studies have shown that meditation limits stress , anxiety and the risk of depression. For example, in a Belgian study of 400 young people aged 13 to 20, those who followed a mindfulnessprogram  showed fewer signs of depression, anxiety and stress than others, up to six months later. These young people were less likely to develop depressive symptoms . In 2014, a review  that analyzed 36 randomized controlled clinical trials showed that meditation could reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

In general, meditation improves mood and psychological well-being, as a British study has shown . Finally, an Indian study found that meditation reduces the effects of stress and promotes relaxation in adults who have never practiced it.

2. Meditation stimulates the brain

Meditation promotes attention, memory and limits the effects of age on the brain . For example, Harvard researchers have shown that meditation increases the amount of concentration-related gray matter in the brain. To achieve this result, they conducted an experiment on 16 people who followed an eight-week mindfulness meditation program. The participants were compared to a group of 17 witnesses. The MRI showed increased gray matter in areas of the brain involved in learning, memory and emotional control.

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Similarly, in a study at the University of California , participants were better able to focus on repetitive tasks through the practice of meditation. In another study  of 48 adults with attention deficit, those who were using  mindfulness therapy reduced their hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention problems.

Meditation could help manage the pain. © puhhha, Fotolia

3. Meditation reduces pain

Several studies have shown that the practice of meditation is beneficial for pain . For example, researchers at the University of California compared 12 people who had a long practice of meditation and 12 witnesses. People who were experienced in meditation had lower brain responses to pain by 40 to 50% compared to controls. When the 12 witnesses learned transcendental meditation for five months, they too experienced a reduction in their brain response to pain.

4. Meditation would be good for our cardiovascular health

In a 2012 study , 200 people at cardiovascular risk attended either sessions to promote better nutrition and exercise, or sessions on transcendental meditation. The participants were followed for five years. The researchers found that those who had taken the meditation sessions had reduced their risk of heart attack , stroke and death by 48% . These changes were associated with lower blood pressure. An Indian study has also shown that meditation can reduce heart rate and breathing rate.

5. Meditation is favorable to immunity

One study showed that mindfulness meditation has effects on genes : pro-inflammatory genes are less expressed, which explains why the body recovers more easily after a stressful situation. In a study that compared  mindfulness with other interventions (music therapy, exercise, nutrition education), the techniques of the latter were most effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms.

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  • Meditation is a relaxing practice that can help manage stress and anxiety.
  • It promotes attention and memory.
  • People who practice meditation seem more resistant to pain.
  • Meditation would also promote cardiovascular health and immunity.

The benefits of meditation validated by science

American researchers have provided new proof that meditation reduces the symptoms of anxiety disorders and improves attention, memory, immunity , emotional management, cognitive and academic performance, as well as creativity.

According to researchers from  Texas Tech University faculty in the United States, a program of meditation developed in China in the 1990s, the IBMT ( Integrated Body & Mind Training ), with particular would address two specific brain areas called anterior cingulate cortex and adjacent middle prefrontal cortex , involved in attention and memory and decision – making, empathy and emotion.

The technique, called in French “integrated body and mind gymnastics”, is based on exercises of relaxation, breathing, postures and mental visualizations. This protocol allows you to progressively and easily access meditation , which requires control of thoughts.

After five 20-minute instructor-led sessions, most “meditators” noticed a significant decrease in their daily stress level , anxiety , depression, anger and fatigue, and increased attention. In addition, they have seen their behavior improve emotionally, cognitively and socially.

According to one study, combining meditation and sports twice a week for two months reduced the symptoms associated with depression by 40%. © Dean Drobot, shutterstock.com

Improve the level of attention and reduce the symptoms of depression

In conclusion, researchers advocate to practice regularly to learn to control themselves physically and emotionally. In other words, become aware of his thoughts by putting in place a proper distance between himself and his emotions.

On the other hand, people with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities may benefit from the method to improve their level and academic attitude.

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A previous US study in  Translational Psychiatry found that combining meditation and sports twice a week for two months reduced the symptoms associated with depression by 40%.

American researchers from  Carnegie Mellon University have, meanwhile, found that 35 stressed unemployed who had meditated strongly developed in their brain connecting a network of neurons, linked to the rest. However, this network was failing in subjects in important regions of the brain that command attention and executive control, that is, the process that guides our behavior.