10 Reasons Why Meditation Is Good for Your Health
While it’s often depicted this way, meditation is more than chanting “Om” and sitting cross-legged for hours on end. The practice of meditation can be defined in dozens of different ways, but at its core it involves focusing on certain points of reference, such as your breath or a mantra (which doesn’t have to be Om).
Research connects regular meditation with plenty of notable health benefits—from reducing anxiety and depression to helping people quit smoking. One of the best parts of meditation? It can be done virtually anywhere and its low cost. And when compared to many other treatments for mental and physical health conditions, meditation is a very low-risk alternative or secondary approach.
There are lots of different types of meditation, some of which have been linked to different health benefits. It all comes down to finding the right type of meditation for you. Let’s dig into the science to find out how meditation can benefit our overall health.
1. It can reduce blood pressure
In a meta-analysis of studies that examined the effect of meditation on blood pressure, researchers found meditation—specifically forms other than transcendental—could lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Another study found the ancient Chinese practice of Qigong (which includes meditation, breath control, and rhythmical movements) significantly decreased blood pressure compared to the control group.
2. It can reduce overall cardiovascular risk
While we’ve addressed one of the biggest factors that affects cardiovascular health (high blood pressure) it’s just one piece of the healthy-heart puzzle. Researchers suggest meditation is a low-risk, low-cost way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have found reductions in key cardiovascular disease risk factors such as systolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cholesterol.
3. It can reduce stress
A small study on teachers at a school for students with severe behavioural problems found that a 4-month transcendental meditation program reduced perceived stress and burnout. Though the severity of daily life stressors is often different than that of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to note that research suggests mindfulness-based stress reduction can reduce symptoms of PTSD. Plus, mindfulness meditation has been found to lower levels of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.”
4. It can decrease anxiety
In a study on people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), an 8-week intervention that included mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with reductions in anxiety. It also found that meditation training may help people better cope with distress and anxiety and treat themselves with more kindness and less self judgement.
5. It can decrease depression
In a study on nursing students (a group linked to high levels of depression), researchers compared the effects of mindfulness meditation on markers of depression versus physical exercise. While both therapies helped manage depression, mindfulness meditation was more effective.
6. It can reduce insomnia
While there are few studies on meditation and insomnia, researchers have found a connection between mindfulness meditation and improved sleep quality. Though meditation may not cure insomnia outright, it can serve as an supplementary treatment to other methods.
7. It can reduce pain
Several studies have found meditation an effective way to control and reduce pain. One study on chronic pain patients found that mindfulness meditation decreased pain and improved quality of life. Another study found mindfulness-based stress reduction—which included body scan, sitting, and walking meditation—effectively reduced pain severity in people with chronic low back pain.
8. It can boost mood
A small study on people with memory loss found that an 8-week, 12 minute a day meditation program led to an improvement in mood. More specifically, another study found that integrative body-mind training improved self-reported mood—even in the short term. Regular meditation may even have similar positive health effects to taking a holiday.
9. It can improve memory
With so much focus on mindfulness it’s no wonder that certain forms of meditation have been linked to improved brain health and cognitive function. Research shows it can slow cognitive decline and enhance memory function and attention.
10. It can lead to better eating habits
Mindfulness meditation has been studied as an effective intervention for disordered eating. Some studies suggest it can decrease binge eating and emotional eating and help people cultivate a more positive relationship with food.
While meditation shouldn’t be a replacement for regular exercise and healthy eating, it’s clear that taking time to be mindful can lead to a host of mental and physical benefits.
For more information on how to work meditation into your next wellness retreat, contact our experts on 020 7843 3597 or submit your enquiry here.