Benefits of meditation
Mindfulness meditation is not only a fashion: many of its benefits are scientifically proven.
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To meditate is calmer, we are inclined to believe. Really? In all corners of the world, researchers are trying to establish the real effects of meditation, especially on health. At the University, the team of Sonia Goulet and Carol Hudon, professors at the School of Psychology, took a look at the issue, tracking the effects of mindfulness meditation on people at risk. to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The characteristic of this form of meditation: by practicing it, one learns to keep one’s attention on an object and to move it at will, rather than being distracted by sounds or thoughts, for example. As we begin our work on Alzheimer’s disease, the team has developed a state of scientific knowledge that lists several benefits of mindfulness meditation.
1- Reduces stress and depression
Yes, mindfulness meditation helps reduce the symptoms of stress. It improves, among other things, the secretion of cortisol, also called “stress hormone”, reduces the level of perceived stress and facilitates the use of stress coping strategies. Used in therapy with people with major depression, meditation also reduces the risk of relapsing depressive episodes, which can have a significant impact on work and personal life and increase the likelihood of suicide. . Mindfulness meditation is also used with people with anxiety or bipolar disorders.
2- Improves cognitive functions
The practice of mindfulness meditation improves various cognitive functions, including attention. Thus, if a non-initiated person is asked to focus on his breathing, it will only take a few seconds for his attention to deviate. In meditation, the person will learn to become aware of his loss of attention and bring the subject back to the object of meditation, thereby increasing his ability to concentrate. Mindfulness meditation could also improve executive control, ie all the processes involved in achieving a goal: selection and execution of relevant operations, inhibition of inappropriate actions, change of strategies if necessary etc.
3- Strengthens memory
New followers of mindfulness meditation have their memory preserved, and sometimes even improved – especially the elderly. A recent study by Sonia Goulet and Carol Hudon, conducted among people aged 60 and over suffering from a mild cognitive disorder, is in this respect. In fact, subjects retained their memory abilities after completing an eight-week mindfulness program, while the memory of members of the control group deteriorated over the same period.
4- Influence metabolic syndrome Metabolic
syndrome is a condition characterized by insulin resistance and the presence of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension or obesity. It increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, studies have shown that meditation has positive effects on many indicators of vascular health: glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, etc. It also reduces chronic inflammation associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Who meditates therefore reduces his risk of suffering from the metabolic syndrome and subsequent diseases. The mechanisms underlying this effect are still poorly understood, but several hypotheses are under study.
5- Prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
The probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease is higher in a person who presents various risk factors such as stress, metabolic syndrome and inflammation. Mindfulness meditation acts favorably on these factors by reducing their presence in individuals. These are the two findings underlying the hypothesis put forward by the research team of Sonia Goulet and Carol Hudon: the practice of meditation could prevent or, at the very least, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer. The first data collected by the team from people over the age of 60 with mild cognitive impairment, who are therefore more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, are going in this direction, and work is continuing.