Americans practicing meditation has more than tripled since 2012, and it’s no wonder when you consider the many benefits that meditation offers.
Take a look at our extensive list of health benefits and consider just what meditation could do for your wellbeing.
1: Maintains General Wellness
When asked in a survey why they practice, regular meditators stated that general wellbeing was their first priority.
Research backs up their reason for meditating, as a significant study published in the Journal of Religion and Health showed that regular meditation caused a marked improvement in the subjects’ overall feeling of wellbeing.
Meditation Benefits for the Brain
2: Makes You Feel Happier!
Meditation has been shown time and time again to make you feel happier!
They saw that regular meditation caused individuals to become more observant and aware of their own emotions, as well as showing more compassion for others.
The Dalai Lama explains in his book The Art of Happiness that we can all reclaim our innate state of happiness by simply taking the time to observe and:
“Increasing our awareness and understanding of what truly leads to happiness and what doesn’t”.
3: Improves Your Memory
Meditation is so incredible that it has actually been shown to alter your brain to improve your memory.
This change is known as neuroplasticity, which essentially refers to the way your brain can change structurally and functionally over your lifetime.
The best example of this is Tibetan Buddhist monks who dedicate their lives to meditation, and reap the spiritual benefits. Longitudinal studies have shown how this regular practice has changed their brains over time.
However don’t worry, you don’t need to show quite the same dedication! Researchers in Korea took 46 experienced meditators who had been practicing for around 2 to 5 years and 46 beginners with no experience.
Despite only practicing for 2 to 5 years, the brains of the experienced meditators did show distinct differences compared to the beginners, particularly in the areas responsible for memory and concentration.
4: Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the US, yet one that can be helped by regular meditation.
Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explains that mindfulness meditation is ideal for treating anxiety:
“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self’”.
Researchers from John Hopkins University were interested in the impact meditation could have on the condition.
They looked at 19,000 meditation studies and highlighted 47 different projects that looked at the impact on anxiety.
It was found that overwhelmingly regular meditation did have the power to ease symptoms of the condition.
5: Makes You Feel More Grateful
Gratitude meditation is a powerful practice that Buddhist monks have used to start their day for centuries.
Though an ancient practice, new research shows links between gratitude meditation and improvement in your overall mental wellbeing.
Additional benefits include mood regulation and the ability to self-motivate.
6: Encourages Forgiveness
Teachers were the focus of a 2012 research project that looked at how mindfulness training could help with a teacher’s professional development.
Though findings are still limited, the project showed that mindfulness training could help teachers handle the emotional aspect of their job, including practicing forgiveness, more effectively.
There are a number of forgiveness focussed meditations that you can follow, such as this one by Jason Stephenson:
7: Reduces Stress
With people living increasingly stressful lives, meditation has been shown to be a powerful tool.
A systematic review in to the impact of meditation on stress concluded that those who meditate regularly can manage stress more effectively.
Even those new to meditation can instantly see results. A study on 32 young male adults in India found that if meditation was practiced before an impending stressful event, feelings of stress and anxiety were reduced.
8: Helps with Depression
One of the greatest mental health benefits of meditation is its positive impact on depression.
In fact, a large scale review which looked at mindfulness based practices, including meditation, concluded that it had a positive impact on a number of conditions, however mostly notably on depression.
An article published by the American Psychological Association demonstrated evidence that meditation, when combined with other mindfulness based practices, could be as effective as medication in treating the condition.
9: Improves Sleep
Nearly 9 million Americans now take drugs to help them sleep, however meditation can be a worthy alternative.
Long-needed research in 2015 looked at the sleep issues of older adults. It found that meditation intervention had helped to improve sleep problems in the short term and improve their general overall quality of life.
Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation, explains in her book Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance that meditation can offer rest ten times deeper than sleep.
She has a whole chapter in her book dedicated to improving your sleep through meditation.
Readers of the book reported their joy at suddenly being able to get better quality sleep than they ever had before.
10: Improves Concentration
Meditation also has many benefits for students, with the most notable one being an improvement in concentration.
Research conducted in 2015 demonstrated how just one semester of meditation training could impact the concentration and academic focus of students.
The outcome of the study recommended to universities that they should include meditation as part of the curriculum to improve overall academic performance.
11: Increased Focus
One of the latest pieces of research aiming to improve the world’s ever-shortening attention span was conducted in 2018.
Findings suggested that long term meditation was required to significantly impact a person’s focus and concentration.
However even following just a ten minute meditation session improvements were seen in the attention abilities of those who had never practiced meditation before.
12: Raises Self-esteem
One fantastic benefit of meditation is that it’s shown to raise self-esteem.
Researchers at Stanford looked at the link between social anxiety disorder and regular mindfulness meditation training. Following just nine sessions individuals showed an improved self-view.
13: Encourages Kindness and Compassion
Meditation can actually make you a kinder person!
Clever neuroimaging studies have highlighted how mindfulness practices activate the part of your brain that controls empathy. This is thought to improve your social interaction.
14: Can Reduce Anger
Researchers at the University of Kansas have proven how the anger of experienced and novice meditators can be controlled with meditation.
Subjects were placed in anger-inducing scenarios, however after just one session of meditation they reacted less angrily than they had done before.
Their breathing was slower and their blood pressure decreased. Interestingly, though the study involved both beginner and seasoned meditators the results were no different, just one session of meditation had the same positive impact.
15: Helps with Decision Making
If you’re one of those people that really struggles to make decisions then meditation might be able to help.
Published studies show us that regular meditation helps to focus the mind, encouraging us to trust our intuition and develop positive decision-making behaviors.
16: Encourages Mindfulness
Meditation is a mindfulness practice so it’s no surprise that it encourages mindful behavior.
Mindfulness invites you to slow down and simply live in that moment, becoming more conscious and aware of your surroundings and your own emotions.
17: Fosters Creativity
If you’re looking to reignite your creativity then you might want to try meditation.
Even if you’ve never meditated before, a 2014 study revealed that doing so has a lasting impact on human cognition. Essentially helping your brain to develop new ideas!
18: Improves Your Sex Life
Meditating has many benefits for improving your sex life.
Research in 2011 looked at female sexual dysfunction as a mental issue rather than a physical one.
They used mindfulness-based treatment options to address the feelings of self-judgement the women were experiencing.
After the 12 week course, subjects reported better sexual functioning as well as an improved self-view.
Meditation also formed part of a wider study looking at how yogic practices compared to a leading drug for the treatment of premature ejaculation.
It was shown to have a significant impact on the men in the group, with all those following the practice reporting improved performance.
There are a number of guidances you can follow to help:
19: Helps in Fighting Addictions
A paper titled Mindfulness and Acceptance published in 2014 looked at the impact meditation had on those fighting addiction.
Results highlighted that the discipline helped to increase self control and help patients understand the triggers causing their addictive behavior.
20: Aids with Symptoms of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affecting both adults and children is thought to be helped by regular meditation.
A major review of the research looked to state categorically that ADHD could be helped by the practice.
Promising results were seen in a number of studies that focussed on adults when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.
A project looking at children showed that levels of concentration were also shown to be improved in children with ADHD.
21: Helps with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been shown to be positively impacted by meditation therapy.
Research published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience showed how different mindfulness-based therapies, including meditation, helped to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
The outcome of the study was that meditation could prove to be a valuable tool in helping patients with avoidance as well as self-blame behaviors that were present.
22: Delays the Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease
An incredible discovery about meditation in recent years has been the power of the practice in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
This exacting style of meditation is conducted in 12 minute sessions and involves singing certain sounds and repeated finger movements.
Memory loss was shown to be reversed following regular Kirtan Kriya meditation, as well as significant improvements in cognitive functioning.
23: Has Therapeutic Advantages for Autism
Research focused on children between 3 and 14 years old found that mantra meditation in particular showed promise for those with autism.
It was thought that the uninterrupted focus of the practice helped with the associated symptoms of the condition.
In fact conclusions drawn suggested that medical professionals should make an effort to incorporate the learning in to other areas of research in to the condition.
24: Reduces Loneliness
Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling lonely.
Researchers at UCLA found that a meditation program that only lasted eight weeks was shown to reduce loneliness in older adults.
25: Can Improve Your Romantic Relationship
A fascinating piece of research in 2005 sought to find a link between mindfulness practice and marital satisfaction.
In the 95 subjects questioned, a significant link was discovered between meditation and a happy marriage, even with a number of variables in place.
For example researchers looked at how similarities between spouses was linked with marital satisfaction, i.e. the more similar the couple are, does that equate to a happier marriage?
A higher marital satisfaction score was given by people who meditate, compared to those who were deemed very similar to their partner.
26: Advantages for New Mothers
A pilot study at the University of Michigan looked at mothers who were at high risk of developing pre-natal or postnatal depression.
They involved them in a 10 week yoga training course that included meditation and saw a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression.
It was also felt that the subjects built a stronger bond with their baby before they were born.
Recent research also looked at meditation in relation to postnatal depression. The results were exciting, demonstrating how symptoms could be lessened by following the practice.
New moms were able to adjust more effectively to their new lifestyle and deal with associated conditions such as insomnia.
Meditation Benefits for Physical Health
27: Encourages a Healthy Lifestyle
Not only does it have positive impacts on your sleep, but it is also thought to help you eat better and give you the mental time and space you need to unwind.
28: Reduces Back Pain
Research looking at the back pain of 342 individuals sought to see whether daily mediation could help those suffering from back pain carry out everyday tasks more easily.
Participants following the 8 week meditation course reported a 30% improvement in their ability to carry out daily tasks.
29: Manages Chronic Pain
If you’re looking for the best way to deal with chronic daily pain, then meditation could be worth a try.
Research conducted in Santa Monica looked at how meditation could help those coping with chronic pain on a daily basis.
Though positive impacts were seen on the pain itself, more notable were the results shown in how it helped individuals to manage their condition.
They reported an overall improvement in their quality of life and also found it helped to ease symptoms of depression that they were experiencing.
With over 100 million Americans experiencing chronic pain the study concluded that larger scale projects were needed to understand how influential this treatment could be.
30: Helps to Reduce Blood Pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure, then consider a short mediation session every day.
A study which looked at those suffering from arterial hypertension found that after just eight weeks of meditation the blood pressure of the subjects was lowered to a statistically significant level.
Interestingly the participants were also found to be less depressed than they had been prior to starting meditation.
31: Strengthens the Immune System
Another of the physical benefits of meditation is the impact on the immune system.
Initial observations on the link between immunity and meditation suggest that the practice helps to calm the body’s stress response, therefore reducing chronic inflammation.
Researchers at Ohio State proved this finding with subjects showing a sharp rise in the production of antibodies and therefore a strengthened immune system.
Young breast cancer survivors also saw benefits from meditation in a research project conducted by experts at UCLA.
Not only did the practice help with associated conditions such as depression but meditation also helped to significantly reduce pro-inflammatory gene expression potentially helping to stop the recurrence of the cancer.
32: Helps those with Coronary Heart Disease
Currently little research has been done comparing the benefits of meditation with other therapies used for Coronary Heart Disease.
However overwhelmingly meditation has been shown to have a positive influence on a number of different risk factors associated with the condition.
These include improving conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lowering high cortisol levels and reducing mortality rates.
33: Has a Key Role to Play in Cancer Care
One area that has been widely researched is the benefits of meditation for those living with cancer.
Meditation is recognised as having a important role to play in cancer care and a number of studies have shown its impact.
For those battling breast cancer, meditation can help to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as help to improve sleep.
34: Helps Stroke Survivors
Positive feedback was given from stroke survivors to the effectiveness of meditation during a 2018 study.
The focus of the program of meditation was to help stroke patients cope with the negative thoughts and emotions they had associated with their condition.
Feedback suggested that sessions were found to be most effective when they were short and able to be incorporated in to everyday life.
35: Aids those Suffering from Asthma
Though it’s felt that further research is still needed there has been a vast amount of information to suggest that meditation can help those suffering from asthma.
A comprehensive review in 2018 looked at a number of studies that found that it can help with quality of life, and reduce the need for short-term medication solutions.
36: Helps People with Psoriasis
Relief from psoriasis is a surprising benefit of meditation. However for those receiving ultraviolet light therapy for lesions, healing rates were shown to increase if they also listened to guided meditation whilst receiving the treatment.
Even if the guided meditation was only for a short period it was still shown to have a positive impact.
37: Helps with the Effects of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Researchers looking at women with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), particularly those suffering with associated feelings of anxiety or depression, reflected that little is done to understand and help treat the condition.
Their 2016 study focussed on meditation and how it could be used as a treatment option.
Results showed it was effective, particularly for women with mild to moderate PMS.
38: Encourages Weight Loss
For those looking to control their weight, meditation can help! Researchers from Pittsburg hoping to find solutions for the obesity epidemic, considered the power of meditation.
They noticed a significant reduction in weight of the test subjects. It was felt this reduction came from a more mindful approach to eating as well as more discipline in food choices.
Conclusions drawn suggested it was a great, affordable way to help those trying to lose weight.
39: Slows Down the Aging Process
If you’re worrying about getting older and want to stop the clock then it’s suggested that meditation could hold the key.
Scientific research has seen a link between those who practice meditation and a slowing in cellular aging.
Though of course it forms part of a collective of positive lifestyle choices, it was found that the practice reduced the stress makers that can lead to shortened life.
General Meditation Benefits
40: Affordable or Free!
There are a lot of ways you can practice meditation affordably. You’ll find a range of different apps to choose from, with Headspace being one of the most popular.
Typically within the apps you can enjoy a number of sessions for free before being asked to subscribe.
YouTube also has a number of great options including this ten minute guided meditation session for beginners:
41: No Physical Exertion
If you have physical limitations or struggle with chronic daily pain you can still enjoy a meditation session.
42: Easy to Access
The availability of meditation apps, books and guided sessions online makes the practice really easy to access.
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a great introduction to practicing meditation.
It demonstrates wonderfully that meditation is for everyone and shows you how to make it part of your everyday life.
You can instantly make the decision to start meditating, in fact if you haven’t started already, why not start now?