Maybe it has happened to you like me, that you have heard about meditation , but you have done it with skepticism, without believing too much and considering it as an optional activity or that your practice depends on the taste of each person.
Many times I said: “meditation ?, that’s not for me.
But when I got to know the story of Jon Gabriel, a man who lost 120 kg , programming his mind, body and habits through meditation, I understood the real power of this practice. It was the first time I saw a concrete result and impact of meditation on someone.
If you want to know why meditation is so powerful, keep reading because I will tell you how it can change your life in an incredible way.
Meditation is a millenary tradition on its own merits.
Without underestimating extraordinary inventions such as the internet or the printing press, meditation was discovered much earlier.
Despite technological advances and the sway of entire civilizations, the practice of meditation has survived at least 3,000 years. It was then that some texts were found in India with detailed instructions on how to practice meditation.
And it has not been until a few decades ago, that science has empirically verified its lasting benefits in our physical and mental health .
If you wish, you can download for free our Beginners Meditation Guide .
In this article, we have prepared some of these benefits and their sources. If you understand English, you can get lost in the detail of the investigations since in most cases I attach the link to the original scientific reference.
What does meditation do?
Meditation not only helps us to be more connected or to reduce suffering. Meditation has real, physical effects on your brain and your body.
Now science has explained how the practice of meditation – more or less regular – changes your brain . We also know that meditation not only changes your brain while you meditate, but that the benefits can last over time.
The neuroplasticity of the brain
Your brain changes constantly. It is never the same. As they say, change is the only permanent. And this is true for everything.
Applied to the brain, this is neuroplasticity , and it works like this:
- Every thought, emotion or action is electrical impulses in the brain.
- Each time these impulses “spark”, they become stronger.
- When you strengthen some connections, others weaken.
Although it sounds a bit esoteric, this process is real. And the good news is that it can play in your favor .
The moment you are aware of your thoughts, you are taking control over how your brain changes.
Precisely for this reason meditation is so powerful.
It does not matter what kind of meditation you practice. If you make the decision to be intentionally calm and present, your brain will change to a calmer and more present state.
Benefits of meditation in your mind
Let’s see now how these changes in the brain can manifest in your day to day.
1. Meditation makes you happier
In a 2013 study , the researchers used the “Oxford Happiness Questionnaire” to determine the level of happiness of the participants.
96% of the participants who practiced meditation obtained the “happy” score, while only 56% of the non-meditators achieved the same result.
The conclusion was that meditation improves positive thinking, which significantly helps increase self-satisfaction and happiness in life.
2. Meditation can reduce the symptoms of depression
One of the benefits of meditation studied more extensively is its impact on depressive disorders.
An investigation that ended in 2014 , showed that meditation can relieve depressive symptoms in all stages of the disease.
3. Meditation fights anxiety
Anxiety invades us when we believe our fearful thoughts about the future, and we become obsessed with the possible consequences. Meditation trains your brain to take a certain distance from your thoughts.
Study after study have shown that this is true, and in this analysis of 47 studies , the relief that meditation generates in people with anxiety was found again.
The same study raised to the clinical community the need to include meditation programs in patients with anxiety and psychological stress.
A practical method to reduce the symptoms of anxiety is to learn to accept. Accepting ourselves and our environment In this article I explain what radical acceptance is and how to practice it .
4. Meditation relieves stress
Unfortunately, stress is a present and increasing evil in Western society.
A meta-study conducted in 2015 , gathered 29 scientific investigations in which it was demonstrated that meditation is an effective method to reduce stress, even in healthy people.
5. Meditation strengthens the healthy parts of your brain
Believe it or not, your brain is made of gray matter, and when certain parts of your brain are stimulated over a period of time, the gray matter grows.
A famous study conducted in 2011 , discovered that meditation generates more gray matter in key areas , such as those that control self-awareness and emotional regulation.
6. Meditation helps you to concentrate
Concentration and attention are extremely important in almost all the activities we do. However, in our world invaded by multitasking, it is certainly difficult to develop mindfulness.
It has been shown on many occasions that if you practice meditation you can pay attention for a longer time and in a more effective way.
7. Meditation displays your creativity
Creativity is a primordial skill of the human being that helps us generate new ideas and solve problems.
A 2012 study showed that, by taking a certain distance from your thought processes, meditation can uncover your creativity.
According to the study, meditation induces a state that promotes divergent thinking, which allows the generation of new ideas .
Benefits of meditation on health
It seems that meditation is also extremely healthy and healing for the body. Let’s see why:
8. Meditation reduces pain
Like it or not, life inevitably brings physical pain.
In 2011 , scientists found that meditation is a powerful tool to reduce pain. Now we know that the practice of meditation helps you tolerate pain better and decrease its intensity.
9. Meditation can help you quit smoking
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills almost half of smokers . Many have tried to quit smoking, with more or less success. If you know someone who wants to leave, pass this article!
In a scientific study , after completing a four-week mindfulness meditation program, 36% of the participants stopped smoking. On the other hand, only 15% of the people who had not participated in the program got it.
10. Meditation can halve the risk of heart disease
According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the world .
It is well known that cultivating healthy habits such as exercising, eating well or sleeping well reduces this risk considerably.
Similarly, one study showed that meditation can reduce this risk by approximately half.
Meditate, do you have disadvantages?
No one is known to have stated categorically that meditation is the most fun activity he has done in his life. It’s probably more fun to go to the theater or have a drink with friends.
Let’s face it, the regular practice of meditation carries wide benefits. However, it is often boring and unfortunately the results usually do not come the first day.
All this must be admitted.
On the other hand, sitting down to meditate does not pose any threat to your physical, mental or spiritual health. There are no disadvantages. It all adds up.
It only requires illusion and a bit of perseverance.
You can even practice fun mindfulness exercises with your children or students .
In short, if you are considering starting to meditate, do not hesitate.
Meditating is free, simple and anyone can do it.
And as we have just seen, there is extensive scientific evidence that meditation makes you healthier and happier.