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4 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Regular Meditation
Meditation has been practiced for centuries to help people relax and refocus their thoughts. There are many different styles and types of meditation, each with their own goals when it comes to achieving mindfulness.
According to a survey by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.2% of Americans practiced meditation in the last 12 months.1
There are many reasons why people may choose to meditate including relieving stress, depression, and anxiety.
Here are 4 health benefits of meditating as well as some tips on how you can get started today.
One proven benefit of practicing meditation is it can improve your focus.
One study looked at a group of undergraduate students and the effects that meditation had on their performance of a task. The study had the meditation group listen to a mindfulness tape for 10 minutes before completing the task. The researchers found that the participants in the meditation group had better focus and concentration.2
Another study looked at the effects short-term meditation has on focus. They found that at the end of 8 weeks, the brief meditation sessions had a positive impact on the anxiety levels of the participants. Meditation had also improved their attention and working memory when they were tested.3
These two studies show that even meditating for a short period of time can help improve your focus and boost your cognitive functioning. One reason for this benefit is because meditation is about refocusing the mind, which can help improve your concentration and attention levels.
Lower Blood Pressure
1 in 3 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, and 20% are unaware that they have it.4 High blood pressure can lead to health issues such as heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes.
Research shows that meditation can help you reduce your blood pressure levels. Dr. Herbert Bensen, Director Emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, researched a meditation technique that increases the body’s levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been found to help relax and widen blood vessels, which can reduce blood pressure. His findings show a correlation between practicing meditation and reducing blood pressure.5
Furthermore, a two-year study from Kent State University found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) decreased blood pressure levels significantly. The people in this study had high blood pressure levels but not high enough to warrant the use of medicine, and they performed a series of techniques in different meditation sessions. They found that throughout the two years, those who practiced MBSR had lower blood pressure levels by the end of the study.6
While research linking blood pressure levels and meditation is still ongoing, practicing regular meditation may help you reduce hypertension. Try using meditation as a natural way to reduce high blood pressure.
Another benefit of meditation is that it can help improve your quality of sleep at night.
According to the Sleep Foundation, meditation brings a state that is similar to falling asleep called the relaxation response. Meditation can lower psychological distress and calm down the nervous system, which in turn prevents insomnia and improves sleep quality.7
A study looked at participants who do not meditate and had no known sleep issues. The study found that those who practiced different meditation techniques had improved sleep quality by the end of the 8 weeks. The researchers looked at how their participants reported sleep quality, daily disturbances, and sleep efficiency, concluding that meditation can make an overall improvement in sleep.8
Start practicing meditation as a way to naturally calm your body at night before bedtime.
Reduce Memory Loss
Another health benefit of practicing meditation is it might have the potential to improve and reduce memory loss.
In one study, the researchers believe meditation may reduce memory loss because it can increase the amount of blood flow to the brain. All of the participants had memory loss at the start and practiced the Kirtan Kriya technique, which involves the repetition of different sounds as well as some other meditation exercises. According to the image scans, the researchers found that cerebral blood flow increased near the frontal lobes and parietal lobes, both which help our brain store and retrieve memories.9
Another reason why meditation exercises may help reduce memory loss is it can lessen the atrophy of the hippocampus.10 The hippocampus is one of the regions of the brain primarily associated with memory and is also attached to the limbic system, which regulates our emotional responses.11
Over time, the hippocampus can decline, but regular meditation can exercise different parts of the brain’s memory and help protect it.
Regular meditation can help you keep your brain’s memory and prevent against age-related diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How to incorporate meditation into your day
Now that you know some of the health benefits of meditation, you might be wondering how you can start practicing meditation as part of your weekly routine.
Here are a few tips you can use to start meditating:
- Start with small goals. Many people give up meditation because they believe that they need to be perfect or stick to it every day. Start out with a small goal in mind, such as focusing on meditating for ten minutes a few days during the week. Over time, you can increase the duration you meditate and focus on different techniques to help you relax.
- Find a quiet place. Meditation is best done in a quiet, relaxing environment where you won’t be distracted. Try meditating in an empty room in your house or finding a quiet place outside. Try to make this spot different from where you do work or household chores to separate your mind from responsibilities.
- Be comfortable. Another tip you can use to make the most out of your meditation sessions is by wearing comfortable clothing. Meditation is about refocusing your mind, and clothing that is tight or uncomfortable may distract you from your meditation session.
- Join a class. If you are looking to find motivation or meet other people who enjoy meditating, joining a meditation class can help you get into the routine of regular meditation.
- Download a meditation app. There are different meditation apps that can guide you through breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises. Some meditation apps will help you track your progress and give you tips on how to improve your meditation skills.
Start Meditating Today!
Meditation is relatively easy and inexpensive to incorporate into your everyday routine. Consider meditating and taking advantage of some of these health benefits today!
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- Tainya C. Clarke et. all. “Use of Yoga, Meditation, and Chiropractors Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 and Over.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page last reviewed November 15th, 2018. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db325.htm
- Catherine J. Norris et. all. “Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism.” U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. August 6th, 2018. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088366/
- Basso JC, McHale A, Ende V, Oberlin DJ, Suzuki WA. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behav Brain Res. 2019 Jan 1;356:208-220. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023. Epub 2018 Aug 25. PMID: 30153464. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30153464/
- “High Blood Pressure Statistics.” American Medical Group Foundation, Measure Up Pressure Down. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: http://www.measureuppressuredown.com/PR/highBPStats_pr.asp#:~:text=High%20blood%20pressure%20(hypertension)%20is,not%20know%20they%20have%20it.
- “Meditation and a relaxation technique to lower blood pressure.” Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. June 14th, 2020. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/meditation-and-a-relaxation-technique-to-lower-blood-pressure
- “Meditation Effective in Reducing Blood Pressure.” Kent State University, Kent.edu. Accessed July 20th, 2021. Link: https://www.kent.edu/research/meditation-effective-reducing-blood-pressure
- Pacheco, Danielle. Dimitriu, Alex, ed. “How Meditation Can Treat Insomnia.” Onecare Media Company, Sleep Foundation. June 24th, 2021. Accessed July 21st, 2021. Link: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/treatment/meditation
- Barrett B, Harden CM, Brown RL, Coe CL, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and exercise both improve sleep quality: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial of community dwelling adults. Sleep Health. 2020 Dec;6(6):804-813. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2020.04.003. Epub 2020 May 22. PMID: 32448712; PMCID: PMC8157793. Accessed July 21st, 2021. Link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32448712/
- Doheny, Kathleen. Chang, Louise, MD. “Can Meditation Reverse Memory Loss?” WebMD, WebMD.com. March 3rd, 2010. Accessed July 21st, 2021. Link: https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20100303/can-meditation-reverse-memory-loss
- “Clarity within the Haze: The Benefits of Yoga and Meditation for Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.” The Minded Institute, com. Accessed July 21st, 2021. Link: https://themindedinstitute.com/clarity-within-haze-benefits-yoga-meditation-alzheimers-dementias/
- Yassa, Michael A.. "Hippocampus". Encyclopedia Britannica, 30 Oct. 2020, Accessed 21 July 2021. Link: https://www.britannica.com/science/hippocampus.