top of page
Search

The Science of Meditation: A (Brief) Journey into Scientific Wellness

Meditation, a practice rooted in spirituality, has become increasingly a focal point of scientific exploration.


Haix, candles and flags offered before image of religious meditation Rangoon, Burma

Researchers and scientists have and continue to inquire deeply into the ancient practice, unveiling an incredible amount of benefits that stretch far beyond inner calm. Let’s take a comprehensive, albeit brief, look at the scientifically proven advantages of meditation that redefine contemporary wellness.



MEDIATION AND YOUR EMOTIONS


Stress Reduction and Emotional Wellbeing

Scientific studies, such as those conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School, have demonstrated that regular meditation reduces stress hormones like cortisol, fostering emotional stability and resilience in the face of challenges.


Improved Emotional Intelligence and Relationships:

Through practices like loving-kindness meditation, individuals develop empathy and compassion, fostering emotional intelligence. This transforms relationships, creating deeper connections and understanding.


Reduction in Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression:

Extensive research demonstrates that meditation significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, offering solace to those battling these mental health conditions.

Additional benefits of meditation on the emotions:

- Heightened empathy

- Improved interoceptive awareness

- Better psychological wellbeing

- Increased self-directedness

- Improved cooperativeness



MEDIATION AND THE BRAIN


Enhanced Cognitive Functioning:

Research from institutions like UCLA reveals that meditation enhances neuroplasticity, improving memory, attention, and processing speed. This heightened cognitive function gives meditators superior problem-solving skills and enhanced creativity.


Adult brain nerve fibres. Zeynep M. Saygin, McGovern Institute, MIT
Adult brain nerve fibres. Zeynep M. Saygin, McGovern Institute, MIT

Slowing of Brain Aging and Alzheimer's Prevention:

Worldwide an estimated at least 50 million people are suffering some form of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, with the most susceptible age group being the fast growing part of the population. Dementia is a loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, reasoning, remembering—and behavioral abilities that interferes with a person’s normal daily life. Around the globe, someone is diagnosed every 30 seconds and women are statistically much more likely to develop AD than men—a woman’s estimated lifetime risk is one in 6, while a man’s is one in 11.


Studies led by Dr. Kim Innes at West Virginia University have shown that meditation can slow the thinning of the prefrontal cortex, which is a part of the brain associated with aging. Furthermore, meditation has exhibited promising results in reducing beta-amyloid 40, a biomarker linked to Alzheimer's disease. During the pandemic I found and completed a training in Brain Longevity Therapy through the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation. The program is based on decades long studies held in leading medical school that are showing meditation is a key factor in lifestyle approach that helps stop early memory loss from progressing to Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional benefits of meditation on the brain:

- Slowing of brain aging, particularly thinning of the prefrontal cortex

- Increased attention and innovation

- Better problem-solving skills

- Enhanced mental health following trauma


Meditation is choosing not to engage in the drama of the mind but elevating the mind to its highest potential. – Amit Ray


MEDIATION AND YOUR BODY


Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP):

MBRP combines mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention skills to help individuals maintain sobriety. Research suggests that MBRP reduces the link between craving and substance use, increasing resilience for relapse.


This is something close to my heart, having seen so many beautiful people lost to substance abuse. I go much deeper into this topic here.


Enhanced Sleep Quality:

Meditation significantly improves sleep quality by calming the mind, leading to deeper and more restorative sleep. Practices like Yoga Nidra (NSDR) have shown immense benefit in terms of sleep quality.


Berenice Abbott - Parabolic Mirror (1958)
Berenice Abbott - Parabolic Mirror (1958)

Physical Health Benefits:

Meditation strengthens the immune system, regulates blood pressure, and plays a pivotal role in pain management. Studies indicate that meditators experience significant reductions in chronic pain, surpassing the effects of pain relievers.


Additional physical benefits:

- Strengthened immune function

- Reduced stress and panic attacks

- Increased work satisfaction

- Reduction in chronic pain and hypertension

- Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease




EN FIN

Regular meditation profoundly affects brain functioning, influencing self-awareness, empathy, and stress regulation. Long-term meditators exhibit increased awareness, emotional intelligence, and compassion, leading to better relationship dynamics.


The scientific landscape surrounding meditation is evolving, fascinating and i incredibly exciting. Each study further confirms meditation's profound impact on the human psyche and physiology, offering a transformative and simple path towards holistic well-being.

Ready to start meditation? Here's an article to get you started.

---


References:

  • Harvard Medical School. "Meditation offers significant heart benefits." (2013)

  • Treadway, M. T., & Lazar, S. W. (2010). Meditation and neuroplasticity: Using mindfulness to change the brain.

  • Boccia M, Piccardi L, Guariglia P. The Meditative Mind: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of MRI Studies. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:419808. doi: 10.1155/2015/419808. Epub 2015 Jun 4. PMID: 26146618; PMCID: PMC4471247.

  • Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. "Emotional Intelligence and Meditation: A Neuroscientific Perspective."

  • Shapiro, L. (2020). "The Healing Power of Meditation: Physical and Mental Benefits."

  • Rusch HL, Rosario M, Levison LM, Olivera A, Livingston WS, Wu T, Gill JM. The effect of mindfulness meditation on sleep quality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 Jun;1445(1):5-16. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13996. Epub 2018 Dec 21. PMID: 30575050; PMCID: PMC6557693.

  • Breedvelt JJF, Amanvermez Y, Harrer M, Karyotaki E, Gilbody S, Bockting CLH, Cuijpers P, Ebert DD. The Effects of Meditation, Yoga, and Mindfulness on Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Tertiary Education Students: A Meta-Analysis. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 24;10:193. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00193. PMID: 31068842; PMCID: PMC6491852.

  • University of Washington. "Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: A Comprehensive Guide."

  • Bowen, S. et al. "Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Substance Use Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial." JAMA Psychiatry

  • Lazar, S. et al. "The Cognitive and Psychological Benefits of Meditation: A Longitudinal Study."

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page