10 Benefits of Meditation Practice Backed by Science

Jun 05, 2021

There are many benefits to having a meditation practice. Modern research has discovered numerous ways that meditation can impact mental, emotional, and physical health. It is also good to keep in mind that we do not yet know all of the benefits meditation has to offer, as we have not yet explored the full potential of the human mind.

Some people that have devoted the majority of their time to intensive meditation practice have displayed an incredible transformation of perception and character, as well as an impressive control over parts of their body and mind that are typically thought to be involuntary and out of our ability to control.

In this article, we are going to explore 10 benefits of meditation backed by science.

1. Reduced Stress

One of the greatest benefits of meditation is that it significantly reduces our stress levels. We live in a fast-paced society, and often much is demanded of us in our daily lives. Meditation creates inner space that helps us to not become as easily disturbed by circumstances, or by our own thoughts.

Whenever we experience mental or physical stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone and it works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. This is helpful for helping one to get out of dangerous situations. However, many of us experience stress when we are not actually in danger, and the prolonged release of cortisol and the effects that it has on the body, can have a very negative impact on the body over time. It causes the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, and can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.

In one 8-week study, conducted by Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging & Behavior and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, it was shown that the practice of mindfulness meditation reduced the inflammation response in the body caused by stress.

Furthermore, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

2. Reduced Anxiety

A meta-analysis including nearly 1,300 adults found that meditation can decrease anxiety. Interestingly, this effect was strongest in those with very high levels of anxiety.

One study found that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation helped reduce anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, along with increasing positive self-statements and improving stress reactivity and coping.

3. Reduces Depression and Promotes Emotional Health

A study published in the national library of medicine stated that 3,500 adults found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression.

Similarly, a review of 18 studies showed that people receiving meditation therapies experienced reduced symptoms of depression, compared with those in a control group.

Another study found that people who completed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative thoughts in response to viewing negative images, compared with those in a control group.

4. Improves Focus & Lengthens Attention Span

One study on meditation found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved attention and accuracy while completing a task, compared with those in a control group.

A similar study showed that people who regularly practiced meditation performed better on a visual task and had a greater attention span than those without any meditation experience.

Moreover, one review concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention.

Another study found that meditating for just 13 minutes daily enhanced attention and memory after just 8 weeks.

5. May Reduce Age Related Memory Loss

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help to keep your mind young and alert. One review found preliminary evidence that multiple meditation styles can increase attention, memory, and mental quickness in older volunteers.

In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can likewise help control stress and improve coping in those caring for family members with dementia.

6. Helps to Develop Self-Control and Overcome Addictions

The mental discipline developed through regular meditation practice may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors. Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention, manage their emotions and impulses, and increase their understanding of the causes behind their addictions.

One study in 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder found that practicing meditation was associated with lower levels of stress, psychological distress, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months.

Meditation may also help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating.

7. Improves Sleep

One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and had improved insomnia severity. Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia. Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.

8. Helps Control Physical Pain

Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions. Some research suggests that incorporating meditation into your routine could be beneficial for controlling pain. For example, one review of 38 studies concluded that mindfulness meditation could reduce pain, improve quality of life, and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain.

A large meta-analysis of studies enrolling nearly 3,500 participants also concluded that meditation was associated with decreased pain. Meditators and non-meditators experienced the same causes of pain, but meditators showed a greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced a reduced sensation of pain.

9. Decreases Blood Pressure

Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing strain on the heart. Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function. High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

A meta-analysis of 12 studies enrolling nearly 1000 participants found that meditation helped reduce blood pressure. This was more effective among older volunteers and those who had higher blood pressure prior to the study.

One review concluded that several types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure.

In part, meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension, and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations.

10. Improves Relaxation & Feelings of Well-Being

Meditation helps to reduces stress, improve relaxation and increase feelings of well-being. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, the focus of attention helps to calm the stream of continuous thoughts that may be crowding the mind and causing stress. This process may result in less tension in the body and mind, and enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Meditation also helps us enter into a flow state, a state of attention that is focused on the immediate moment. This state has been associated with greater feelings of joy, vitality, and aliveness, and is one of the greatest benefits of having a regular meditation practice.


As one can see there are many benefits to meditation practice, the ones mentioned in this article were a bit clinical or scientific, but there are many more benefits as well, such as gaining more insight into the way your mind works, letting go of outdated beliefs, healing emotional wounds and traumas, transforming your perception of life, realizing deeper truths about the universe and yourself, experiencing inner peace and freedom, and much, much more—but the benefits of meditation only come from practicing it.

If you want to learn more about how to start and maintain a regular meditation practice, our Introduction to Meditation course is a great place to start.



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