The Scientific Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness meditation has been found to help increase our well-being, alleviate aspects of depression and anxiety, decrease emotional reactivity, and improve our ability to regulate our behaviours.

Too Busy to Meditate? Don’t Worry. 

Just one week of brief daily mindfulness meditation practice has been found to produce significant improvements in attention, energy, and stress. These benefits were more than just subjective: participants experienced actual decreases in stress-controlled cortisol and improvement in their immune system. They also displayed improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning – important sets of mental skills that help you get things done faster.

Importantly, the longer you stick with practicing mindfulness meditation – the better. Long-term practitioners of meditation actually have more grey matter density in brainstem regions associated with cardiorespiratory control.

The Science Behind It

Sounds like magic? It’s not. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to actually change the structure and function of brain regions involved in the regulation of attention, emotion, and awareness. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that a mindfulness program led to changes in grey matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning memory, emotion regulation, and perspective taking, which was also associated with decreased perceptions of stress.

Focus Your Attention

Practicing mindfulness and meditation has also repeatedly been shown to improve our ability to sustain attention. Even in high stress work environments, research found that people who were trained in meditation were able to stay on a task longer, which resulted in less negative feedback after task performance.

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Release Your Creativity

Mindfulness meditation practice also does more than simply help you regulate your emotions and attention – it also can impact your thinking.

A meta-analyses of over 1,500 participants from 20 different samples across almost the last four decades, found a link between mindfulness and creativity, especially for open-monitoring types of mindfulness (non-reactive observation of your thoughts).

Researchers have also found that just one 10-minute session of guided mindfulness can lead to improvements in insight problem-solving (creative unique solutions). One session of open-monitoring meditation can also help promote divergent thinking – a style of thinking that frees your mind to come up with new ideas.

The good news is the more you continue to practice mindfulness meditation regularly, the less rigid your thinking becomes! Weekly sessions of mindfulness over the course of 6 weeks reduced cognitive rigidity (the tendency to be ‘blinded by experience, which limits your ability to come up with new ideas) compared to waitlist controls.

Improve Your Mood

Consistent practice of mindfulness meditation can also have a notable beneficial impact on our overall mood, including depression and anxiety. A meta-analysis of over 150 studies indicated that mindfulness meditation practice has a substantial positive effect on improving anxiety, stress, and negative personality traits. Mindfulness meditation even beats out distraction in improving sad mood.

Strengthen Your Relationships

Learning to be more mindful doesn’t just have a positive impact on you – it can have a positive impact on your relationships too.

Increased mindfulness led to significant improvements in marital quality due to improvements in the identification, communication, and expression of emotions.

And you don’t have to do it alone. Couples who meditated displayed more empathy and non-judgmental acceptance toward each other. They were also more likely to act with awareness and report greater body satisfaction and less social anxiety.

Sleep Better

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep problems among adults. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help decrease how long it takes you to fall asleep and increase the amount of time you stay asleep.

Decrease Stress

Stress has been linked a wide range of medical problems, including hypertension, heart disease, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Luckily, studies have shown that participants who trained in mindfulness meditation displayed greater reductions in stress-related symptoms, and reported increases in their sense of control in their lives than those who did not. Mindfulness has also been linked to reductions in psychological distress and anxiety among highly stressed students and healthcare professionals. Importantly, mindfulness meditation can also produce a 30% reduction in symptoms of stress among those with a serious illness.

Ready to experience these benefits for yourself? Download Simple Habit for free today!

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5 thoughts on “The Scientific Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

  1. This content is great…i practiced meditation since 1994…. I’ve read many articles about its benefits and it caught my attention that your website’s focus is mostly on meditation???…. Godbless on your endeavor!

    Like

  2. The next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless, I actually believed you would probably have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

    Like

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