Benefits of meditation: 12 science

Written by Matthew Thorpe, MD, PhD và Rachael Link, MS, RD — Medically reviewed by Marney A. White, PhD, MS — Updated on October 27, 2020

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Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus & redirect your thoughts.

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The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its many health benefits.

You can use it to lớn increase awareness of yourself & your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way lớn reduce ức chế & develop concentration.

People also use the practice to lớn develop other beneficial habits & feelings, such as a positive mood và outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance.

This article Review 12 health benefits of meditation.

1. Reduces stress

Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.

One Review concluded that meditation lives up to lớn its reputation for bít tất tay reduction (1).

Normally, mental & physical găng cause increased levels of the găng tay hooc môn cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.

These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression & anxiety, increase blood pressure, và contribute to fatigue & cloudy thinking.

In an 8-week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by ức chế (2).

Furthermore, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic bít tất tay disorder, & fibromyalgia (3, 4, 5).

2. Controls anxiety

Meditation can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety.

A meta-analysis including nearly 1,300 adults found that meditation may decrease anxiety. Notably, this effect was strongest in those with the highest levels of anxiety (6).

Also, 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 găng reactivity và coping (7).

Another study in 47 people with chronic pain found that completing an 8-week meditation program led to lớn noticeable improvements in depression, anxiety, & pain over 1 year (8).

What’s more, some research suggests that a variety of mindfulness & meditation exercises may reduce anxiety levels (9).

For example, yoga has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. This is likely due to benefits from both meditative sầu practice and physical activity (10).

Meditation may also help control job-related anxiety. One study found that employees who used a mindfulness meditation ứng dụng for 8 weeks experienced improved feelings of well-being and decreased dibít tất tay và job strain, compared with those in a control group (11).

Some forms of meditation can lead lớn improved self-image & a more positive sầu outlook on life.

For example, one Đánh Giá of treatments given lớn more than 3,500 adults found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression (12).

Similarly, a Reviews of 18 studies showed that people receiving meditation therapies experienced reduced symptoms of depression, compared with those in a control group (13).

Another study found that people who completed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative sầu thoughts in response khổng lồ viewing negative images, compared with those in a control group (14).

Furthermore, inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response lớn căng thẳng, can affect mood, leading to depression. A Đánh Giá of several studies suggests meditation may also reduce depression by decreasing levels of these inflammatory chemicals (15).

Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow inlớn your best self.

For example, self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself và how you relate khổng lồ those around you.

Other forms teach you khổng lồ recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive sầu patterns (16, 17, 18).

One review of 27 studies showed that practicing tai đưa ra may be associated with improved self-efficacy, which is a term used to describe a person’s belief in their own capathành phố or ability lớn overcome challenges (19).

In another study, 153 adults who used a mindfulness meditation phầm mềm for 2 weeks experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and increased social contact compared with those in a control group (20).

Additionally, experience in meditation may cultivate more creative problem-solving skills (21).

Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength & endurance of your attention.

For example, one study found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved attention và accuracy while completing a task, compared with those in a control group (22).

A similar study showed that people who regularly practiced meditation performed better on a visual task và had a greater attention span than those without any meditation experience (23).

Moreover, one Đánh Giá concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute khổng lồ mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention (24).

Even meditating for a short period each day may benefit you. One study found that meditating for just 13 minutes daily enhanced attention & memory after 8 weeks (25).

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young.

Kirtung Kriya is a method of meditation that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive sầu motion of the fingers to lớn focus your thoughts. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have sầu shown it improves performance on neuropsychological tests (26).

Furthermore, a Đánh Giá found preliminary evidence that multiple meditation styles can increase attention, memory, và mental quickness in older volunteers (27).

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In addition lớn fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can likewise help control áp lực & improve sầu coping in those caring for family members with dementia (28, 29).

Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings và actions toward yourself and others.

Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts và feelings toward yourself.

Through practice, people learn khổng lồ extend this kindness & forgiveness externally, first to lớn friends, then acquaintances, & ultimately enemies.

A meta-analysis of 22 studies on this size of meditation demonstrated its ability to lớn increase peoples’ compassion toward themselves and others (30).

One study in 100 adults randomly assigned to a program that included loving-kindness meditation found that these benefits were dose-dependent.

In other words, the more time people spent in weekly metta meditation practice, the more positive sầu feelings they experienced (31).

Another study in 50 college students showed that practicing metta meditation 3 times per week improved positive sầu emotions, interpersonal interactions, và understanding of others after 4 weeks (32).

These benefits also appear to accumulate over time with the practice of loving-kindness meditation (33).

The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control và awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors (34).

Retìm kiếm has shown that meditation may help people learn to lớn redirect their attention, manage their emotions và impulses, và increase their understanding of the causes behind their (35, 36).

One study in 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder found that practicing transcendental meditation was associated with lower levels of căng thẳng, psychological digăng, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months (37).

Meditation may also help you control food cravings. A reviews of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating (38).

Nearly half of the population will struggle with insomnia at some point.

One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs và found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and had improved insomnia severity, compared with those who had an unmedicated control condition (39).

Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to lớn insomnia.

Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to lớn fall asleep.

Your perception of pain is connected khổng lồ your state of mind, và it can be elevated in stressful conditions.

Some research suggests that incorporating meditation into lớn your routine could be beneficial for controlling pain.

For example, one Reviews of 38 studies concluded that mindfulness meditation could reduce pain, improve sầu unique of life, and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain (40).

A large meta-analysis of studies enrolling nearly 3,500 participants concluded that meditation was associated with decreased pain (41).

Meditators and non-meditators experienced the same causes of pain, but meditators showed a greater ability lớn cope with pain và even experienced a reduced sensation of pain.

Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing strain on the heart.

Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder lớn pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function.

High blood pressure also contributes khổng lồ atherosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries, which can lead lớn heart attachồng & stroke.

A meta-analysis of 12 studies enrolling nearly 1000 participants found that meditation helped reduce blood pressure. This was more effective ahy vọng older volunteers và those who had higher blood pressure prior khổng lồ the study (42).

One nhận xét concluded that several types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure (43).

In part, meditation appears khổng lồ 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 (44).

People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which don’t require specialized equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes daily.

If you want lớn start meditating, try choosing a khung of meditation based on what you want lớn get out of it.

There are two major styles of meditation:

Focused-attention meditation. This style concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of distractions. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra, or calming sound.Open-monitoring meditation. This style encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought, & sense of self. It may include becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses.

To find out which styles you lượt thích best, check out the variety of không tính phí, guided meditation exercises offered by the University of California Los Angeles. It’s an excellent way lớn try different styles và find one that suits you.

If your regular work và trang chính environments vì chưng not allow for consistent, quiet alone time, consider participating in a class. This can also improve sầu your chances of success by providing a supportive community.

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Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a consistent habit và allow you lớn start the day positively.