When you imagine mediation, what do you see? Sitting still with your legs crossed for hours with calming background music and burning incense? If that works for you, go for it! But it could be much simpler. Let me explain.
Over the years, western civilization i.e Americans, have begun to adopt meditative practices as a way of improving mental health. As someone who is curious about other cultures and their practices, I came across videos and articles about ways to calm your mind and I have been sold on meditation ever since.
I found many reasons why you should meditate on Live and Dare but I will go ahead and pick and share the top 5 reasons why you should spend at least 15 minutes a day doing it.
In a study conducted at five middle schools in Belgium, involving about 400 students (13 ~ 20 years old), Professor Filip Raes concludes that “students who follow an in-class mindfulness program report reduced indications of depression, anxiety and stress up to six months later. Moreover, these students were less likely to develop pronounced depression-like symptoms.”
Another study, from the University of California, made with patients with past depression, concluded that mindfulness meditation decreases ruminative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs.
Yet another concludes that mindfulness meditation may be effective to treat depression to a similar degree as antidepressant drug therapy”.
Sources: ScienceDaily, Link Springer, Jama Network, Liveanddare
Meditation reduces stress and anxiety.
A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicates that the practice of “Open Monitoring Meditation” (such as Vipassana), reduces the grey-matter density in areas of the brain related with anxiety and stress. Meditators were more able to “attend moment-to-moment to the stream of stimuli to which they are exposed and less likely to ‘get stuck’ on any one stimulus. ”
“Open Monitoring Meditation” involves non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment-to-moment, primarily as a means to recognize the nature of emotional and cognitive patterns.
There are other studies as well, for which I simply present the link below, to avoid repetition.
Sources: NCBI, Wiley Online Library, The American Journal of Psychiatry, ScienceDirect, American Psychological Association, American Psychosomtic Medicine Journal, Medical News Today
Meditation improves information processing and decision-making.
Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Scientists suspect that gyrification is responsible for making the brain better at processing information, making decisions, forming memories and improving attention.
Source: UCLA Newsroom
Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke.
More people die of heart diseases in the world than any other illness.
In a study published in late 2012, a group of over 200 high-risk individuals was asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or take a class on Transcendental Meditation. During the next 5 years researchers accompanying the participants found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
They noted that meditation “significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.”
There are also other researches pointing out similar conclusions, about related health conditions.
Sources: Time Magazine, American Heart Association, HealthCentral
Mindfulness meditation fosters creativity.
A research from Leiden University (Netherlands) demonstrates that the practice of “open monitoring” meditation (non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment-to-moment) has positive effects in creativity and divergent thinking. Participants who had followed the practice performed better in a task where they were asked to creatively come up with new ideas.
Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
To learn how you can start meditating today, watch this short video from Rebekah Borucki
These claims have been backed by reputable scientists and journalist who cover mental health. I personally continue to reap the benefits or meditation and urge you to do the same. It is great for your sanity in this busy world. Your overall health and wellbeing depends on a number of variables, ranging from what you eat to what you feed your mind.