87 Scientific Benefits of Meditation (50+ Hours of Research)
Meditation is AMAZING, but in all likelihood, it’s even more amazing and beneficial than you could ever IMAGINE.
In this article, we provide a whopping 87 scientifically proven benefits of meditation, along with the links to the studies.
It’s important to note that the studies provided in this article are peer-reviewed. So they are backed by solid evidence.
So let’s jump straight into it and look at the benefits of meditation for the mind, body, spirit, and within specific groups of society.
MOODS, EMOTIONS & MENTAL ILLNESS
1. Increases your happiness
A study from 2008 found positive emotions built up over time via a loving-kindness meditation. The study also found that positive emotions increased at a compounding rate.
Mindfulness, life purpose, feeling of support, and decreased illness symptoms all contributed to increase in happiness, life satisfaction and less depression. (Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel, 2008)
This is backed by an earlier study on the changes in the brain and immune functions that are produced by mindfulness meditation.
After 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation, a measure of brain electrical activity showed notable increases in the brain’s left-sided anterior–it controls thinking and emotion–anxiety decreased. (Davidson, et al. 2003)
2. Encourages emotional health
People who practiced meditation experienced a marked decrease in depression symptoms compared to those in the control group.
The analysis was based on 18 scientific studies on the effects of meditative therapies (Tai Chi, Yoga, and mindfulness meditation) on over 1100 patients diagnosed with depressive disorders. (Jain, Walsh, Eisendrath, Christensen, & Rael Cahn, 2015)
A follow-up study conducted 3 years after on 22 participants who practiced meditation-based stress reduction intervention to manage their anxiety disorders.
The results showed long term beneficial effects for 18 out of the original 22 subjects. (Miller, Fletcher & Kabat-Zinn, 1995)
3. Reduces dementia symptoms
Research from Australia has found that mindfulness meditation and other forms of MBSR behavioral therapy help to ease stress and increase cognition.
Lessening these will improve some dementia symptoms and meditation helps to stimulate gray matter and activity in the areas of the brain related to long-term memory. (Russell-Williams, Jaroudi, Perich, Hoscheidt, El Haj & Moustafa, 2018)
While research from the Netherlands encouraged mindfulness meditation both for the dementia patient and their caretaker to address the stresses associated with the condition and the demands of taking care of a patient with dementia. (Berk, Warmenhoven, van Os, & van Boxtel 2018)
4. Improves emotional stability
Individuals who participated in a study were prompted to rate their emotional state and mental functioning throughout the day while wearing a heart monitor revealed that moment-to-moment mindfulness decreased mood fluctuations.
They described themselves as having “more stable emotions” and felt they have better control over their mood and behavior throughout the day.
Mood stability has led to better sleep and a decrease in physiological arousal. (University of Utah, 2013)
5. Reduces excessive negative thoughts
Negative thoughts that repeatedly run through your head is called rumination and it has an adverse effect on your emotional well-being.
A 2004 study used MBSR for 8 weeks and found it helpful in reducing ruminative thoughts and beliefs which is thought to increase the development of chronic anxiety and depression. (Goldin, Mcquaid, Carmona, 2004)
6. Helps manage ADHD symptoms
26 out of 50 adults with ADHD were randomly assigned Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) while the other 24 were in the control group.
The study revealed that MBCT had the same neurophysiological effect as ADHD medication. (Schoenberg, Hepark, Kan, Barendregt, Buitelaar & Speckensb, 2014)
7. Regulates emotions by building volume in the brain
An 8-week mindfulness meditation training program produced changes in the brain’s anterior region – described as the part of the brain that is the control panel of our personality and capacity to communicate.
The study found the changes in the brain helped meditators maintain positive emotions and mental stability. (Luders, et al, 2008)
8. Helps treat anxiety
70 participants with generalized anxiety disorders participated in an 8-week study were randomly selected into taking an MBSR course and a stress-management course.
The results showed significantly lower levels of ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone the body produces in times of biological stress) in the MBSR group which led to lower experiences of anxiety. (Hoge, Bui, Palitz, Schwarz, Owens, Johnston, Pollack& Simon, 2018)
9. Helps improve relationships
A Marriage and Family Therapy program that integrated mindfulness techniques over a course of 3 years found that it increased students’ abilities to interact with their patients and stay in the present.
This is done by creating more empathy through meditation. Mindfulness also provides insight to ourselves and our actions, it also improves intuition, that “gut feeling,” and helping to control fears and the reaction to it. (McCollum, et al., 2014)
10. Decreases negative symptoms of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders
A pilot study on 18 individuals with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders found loving-kindness helped to decrease negative symptoms and increase positive emotions.
Results also showed that meditation helped to aid in psychological recovery. (Johnson, Penn, Fredrickson, Kring, Meyer, Catalino & Brantley, 2011)
11. Develops emotional intelligence
The practice of mindfulness develops emotional intelligence which is shown to help people handle their stresses better when they are able to manage and use social and emotional information as a guide for thinking and behavioral decision-making. (Charoensukmongkol, 2014)
MIND & FOCUS
12. Increases gray matter
MRI scans of study participants who were long term meditators showed they had larger volumes of gray matter in the hippocampus and orbitofrontal regions of their brain, areas responsible for controlling emotions and memory.
The study suggests that more gray matter helped the meditators develop habits to develop positive emotions, maintain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior. (Luders, Toga, Lepore & Gaser, 2009)
13. Develops your attention and focus
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques were found to modify and enhance specific aspects of attention.
There were 3 groups whose attention and focus were measured – Group 1 with no previous experience of MBSR, Group 2 are those who already practice mindfulness meditation, and Group 3 as the control group.
The study results suggest that mindfulness training may improve attention related behavioral responses by enhancing the parts of the brain in charge of attention. (Sha, Krompinger & Baime, 2007)
14. Increases neuroplasticity
“Attentional blink” is the half-second gap that happens when your focus shifts from one thing to another.
The use of meditation as mental training helped the brain to focus its limited resources on finishing tasks that are believed a higher priority compared to similar but lower priority tasks.
The results from the study support the idea that brain plasticity and mental function continues throughout life and can be improved through mental training. (Slagter, Lutz, Greischar, Francis, Nieuwenhuis, Davis & Davidson, 2007)
15. Reshapes your brain
MRI scans from a study revealed meditation increased the cortex’s thickness in those who have long experience in the practice of meditation compared to those in the control group.
This suggests that meditation may impact age-related thinning of the cortex. (Lazar, Kerr, Gray, Greve, Treadway, McGarvey, Quinn, Dusek, Benson, Rauch, Moore & Fischl; 2005)
16. Improves your multitasking game
Meditation training was performed on 3 groups to see if it can help to improve multitasking activity and lessen stress in office workers. Group 1 did mindfulness meditation, Group 2 had body relaxation techniques, and Group 3 as the control group with no intervention.
The results of the study showed that there was little difference in the time it took to complete the task and the number of errors that happened among the three groups.
What is significant are the results of the meditation group. Group 1 showed better memory for the tasks they had performed, switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer. (Levy, Wobbrock, Kaszniak & Ostergren, 2011)
17. Sharpens your memory
A comparison study of the effects of 4 sessions of mindfulness meditation on one group and no training for a control group shows improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and an enhanced ability to sustain attention. (Zeldan, Johnson, Diamond, David & Goolkasian, 2009)
18. Strengthens your creative juices and jumpstarts critical thinking
Open Monitoring meditation techniques were shown to have a positive impact on different effects on divergent thinking.
The study showed that open meditation helped to spark creative thinking by helping the study participants go into a control state that produces divergent thinking.
Thinking out of the box helped to generate new ideas while focusing attention. (Colzato, Ozturk & Hommel, 2012)
19. Reduces cognitive rigidity
Mindfulness techniques help you to switch gears when processing ideas. Your brain is more accepting of ideas, thinking out of the box more freely and opening the brain to see solutions from other POVs and perspectives. (Greenberg, Reiner, Meiran, 2012)
20. Adjusts brainwave frequencies
Research from The Norwegian University of Science and Technology has shown the use of Open Monitoring meditation increased alpha and theta brainwaves, responsible for the brain’s peaceful and meditative states associated with intuition and awareness; and lowers gamma and beta frequencies associated with active learning and analytical thinking.
This shows that the brain can be trained and activated with meditation for optimum performance based on the activity needed. (Lagopoulos et al. 2009)
21. Lengthens attention span and improves focus, and switching between tasks
15 long-time Yoga practitioners were tested in 4 areas versus a group with matched controls and results reveal long-term Vihangam Yoga meditation improves attention span, processing speed, attention alternation ability, and performance in interference tests. (Prakash, Dubey, Abhishek, Gupta, Rastogi & Siddiqui, 2010)
22. Decreases the startle response
A collaboration between Western psychologists and the Dalai Lama studied the perspectives of happiness and emotional states.
The study was done on Lama Oser, the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man, and researchers found Lama Oser was able to suppress his startle response with meditation.
During meditation, Lama Oser was in such a high relaxation state that nothing could startle him. The study shows the strong correlation between high anxiety levels and how someone is easily startled when in an emotional state. (Ekman, Davidson & Wallace, 2005)
BODY, HEALTH & WELLNESS
23. Boosts the immune system
Meditation changes the body’s biological processes. In this case, a positive change in the increase of antibody titers.
The study on the effects of mindfulness meditation showed participants in the 8-week mindfulness training had a significant increase in antibody titers to the influenza vaccine compared to the participants in the control group. (Davidson, Kabat-Zinn, Schumacher, Rosenkranz, Muller, Santorelli,Urbanowski, Harrington, Bonus & Sheridan, 2003)
24. Helps to decrease pain
By using Focused Attention meditation, the body can be trained to “detach” from the stresses and stimuli the body is feeling.
A study reveals just “four-days of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain-unpleasantness by 57% and pain-intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest.”
The results suggest mindfulness meditation is an effective supplement therapy to illnesses in a clinical setting. (Zeldan, Martucci, Kraft, Gordon, McHaffie & Coghill, 2011)
25. Reduces inflammation at the cellular level
The effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention was compared to a Health Enhancement Program (HEP) intervention and the results revealed the body had a higher positive response against inflammation caused by the nervous system with MBSR. (Rosenkranz, Davidson, MacCoon, Sheridan, Kalin & Lutz, 2013)
While another study using mindfulness meditation in the workplace produced results that revealed a decrease in CRP levels–a blood test marker for inflammation in the body–in overweight/obese participants after 2 months of meditation. (Malarkey, Jarjoura & Klatt, 2013)
26. Decreases cortisol levels
Research from Emory University’s School of Medicine found that participants in the control group (who engaged in health discussion) showed no changes on their cortisol (a stress hormone) and total distress scores on the Profile of Mood States (POMS) after exposure to a standardized laboratory stressor (TSST).
In comparison, the group who participated in 6 weeks of compassion meditation had decreased TSST-induced scores on their cortisol and POMS distress scores.
The data imply the practice of compassion meditation may reduce stress-induced immune and behavioral responses. (Pace, Tenzin Negi, Adame, Cole, Sivilli, Brown, Issa & Ralson, 2009)
27. Helps overcome addictions
The use of EEG Biofeedback by 121 patients going through a substance abuse program showed EEG Biofeedback training helped to keep the patients in a more advanced state of consciousness.
This led to 77% of the participants to continue to live drug-free a year later. (Sokhadze, Cannon & Trudeau, 2008)
There is also a study which found dopamine was increased by 65% after meditation.
The dopamine high is the same level as you’d get from a ”fix.”
The best part about the “high” is it stays stable in that range, no “crash” so to speak unlike with a drug high. (Kjaer, Bertelsen, Piccini, Brooks, Alving & Lou, 2002)
28. Helps you sleep better
1 out of 4 adult Americans has insomnia.
Treating insomnia with medication has financial and health implications.
An alternative would be mindfulness meditation as noted in a study which showed a reduction in the time it took to fall asleep and an increase in total sleep time after mindfulness therapy. (Martires & Zeidler, 2015)
29. Improves heart health by lowering blood pressure
The practice of focusing and repeating a phrase during transcendental meditation has been shown to significantly lower blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive patients.
Numerous studies conducted can attest to this but it isn’t recommended as the only treatment.
It works best as a complement to medication and as a stress reducer, which is a factor in hypertension. (Gasser & Veigle, 2017)
30. Supports stress management
A comparative review of various meditation programs used to improve anxiety, depression, and increase positive mood among adults in a pool of over 3,500 participants has revealed moderate evidence of improved anxiety and lower depressive symptoms, and improved quality of life. (Goyal, Singh, Sibinga, Gould, Rowland, Sharma, Berger, Sleicher, Maron, Shihab, Ranasinghe, Linn, Saha, Bass & Haythornthwaite, 2014)
31. Helps lower insulin resistance
The effects of Transcendental meditation were measured in a randomized trial and found that it helped to lower insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a leading cause of metabolic syndrome along with high blood pressure.
Lowering both also decreases the risks of developing chronic heart disease by 48%. (Labrador, Polk & Dwyer, 2006)
32. Assists the terminally ill cope
A clinical trial on the effects of mindfulness meditation training was done on 90 patients with varied types of cancer for 8 weeks.
The results showed a decrease in mood disturbance and stress symptoms.
Lower stress symptoms also led to lower instances of infections in the heart, the lungs, and gastrointestinal issues.
The overall reduction in Total Mood Disturbance was 65%, with a 31% reduction in Symptoms of Stress. (Speca, Carlson, Goodey & Angen, 2000)
Breast cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment were given 8 sessions of yoga and breathing exercises.
Quality of life assessments performed before and after the 8 sessions show improvement with better scores after the yoga sessions.
The study concludes that “yoga is valuable in helping to achieve relaxation and diminish stress, helps cancer patients perform daily and routine activities, and increases the quality of life in cancer patients.” (Ülger & Yağlı, 2010)
A study of the effects of meditation on 28 cancer patients revealed its efficacy in treating depression.
After a 2-week practice, the participants were interviewed using a Hospital
Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and a spiritual well-being assessment. Results revealed a significant decrease in HADS score and an increase in spiritual well-being scores. (Ando, Morita, Ito, Tanaka & Nakayama, 2009)
33. Helps you quit smoking
2 weeks of meditation training among smokers in a study published in PNAS found increased activity in the areas of the brain related to self-control and led to a reduction in smoking by 60%. In comparison, no reduction was found in the control group doing relaxation training. (Tang Y.Y., Tang R. & Posner, 2013)
34. Decreases PMS symptoms
Meditation helps to manage PMS symptoms by calming the thought patterns and emotions which will lead to a more relaxed mind and a body that is less susceptible to stress-induced conditions.
The relationship between heightened levels of mindfulness and less severe PMS symptoms can be seen in a 2011 study of 127 women. (Lustik, Gerrish, Douglas, Bowen & Marlatt, 2011)
35. Helps to treat migraines
MBSR meditation practiced for 8 weeks by 10 out of 19 participants in a study from 2014 showed fewer monthly occurrences of migraines, shorter migraine duration, and less severe migraines after the trial period.
The study concludes that mindfulness-based stress reduction therapies are viable and safe for people who suffer migraines. (Houle, Burch, Loder, Paulsen & Wayne, 2014)
36. Helps deal with symptoms of menopause
Mindfulness practice may help women deal with the symptoms of menopause.
This was revealed by a study done by the Mayo Clinic on 1,744 middle-aged women. In the study, a higher level of mindfulness plus lower stress scores correlated with lower menopausal symptoms scores. (Sood, Kuhle, Kapoor, Thielen, Frohmade, Mara & Faubion, 2018)
37. Helpful for managing diabetes
The practice of MBSR by 14 Type-2 Diabetes patients showed a decrease in HBa1c levels and lower average blood pressure without any changes in their usual diet, exercise, or medication.
There was also a decrease in depression and anxiety experiences.
The study concludes the positive results MBSR brought came from the reduced stress which impacted the patients’ better blood glucose readings. (Whitebird, Kreitzer & O’Connor, 2009)
38. Lowers the pro-inflammatory gene
A study on older adults revealed a reduction in the pro-inflammatory gene expression in the body after 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation.
This decline in inflammation levels lowers the risks of the progression and development of chronic diseases. (Creswell, Irwin, Burklund, Lieberman, Arevalo, Ma, Breen & Cole, 2012)
39. Eases Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms
75 women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) were randomly assigned to either be part of the mindfulness training group or the social-support group.
Those who took part in the mindfulness training for 8 weeks have a greater reduction in IBS symptoms compared to the participants in the social-support group – 26.4% vs. 6.2%.
The reductions in IBS symptoms were sustained at the 3 months follow up – 38.2% vs. 11.8%. (Gaylord, Palsson, Garland, Faurot, Coble, Mann, Frey, Leniek & Whitehead, 2011).
40. Decreases emotional eating habits
A review of 14 scientific studies on the use of mindfulness meditation as the main form of intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss.
The study results show it has helped to decrease binge eating habits and emotional eating but the weight loss results were mixed. (Katterman, Kleinman, Hood, Nackers & Corsica, 2014)
41. Delays the aging process
A study with 30 participants in a 3-month meditation training saw an increase of 30% in telomerase levels in the body.
Higher telomerase levels are a signal of cell health; the more telomerase you have, the longer the body ages. (Jacobs, Epel, Lin, Blackburn, Wolkowitz, Bridwell, Zanesco, Aichele, Sahdra, MacLean, King, Shaver, Rosenberg, Ferrer, Wallace & Saron., 2011)
42. Provides immediate relaxation
Research from the University of Arizona found that a 10-minute practice of loving-kindness increased the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA).
RSA is the body’s index of its ability to enter a relaxed and restorative state. The meditation session also slowed the participants’ respiration rate. (Law, 2011)
43. Helpful in managing chronic back pain
A comparison of the effectiveness of MBSR with other treatments–usual care and cognitive behavioral therapy–found MBSR helped patients’ ability to function independently and experience less back pain.
44% reported significant improvement in pain bothersomeness and 61% increase in functional disability with the use of MBSR. (Cherkin, Sherman, Balderson, Cook, Anderson, Hawkes, Hansen & Turner, 2016)
44. Reduces pain attentional bias
An 8-week Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) Program done by 67 chronic pain patients has shown that mindfulness intervention significantly reduces their pain attentional bias compared to participants in a social support group. The lessened focus on pain improved the quality of life of the study participants. (Garland & Howard, 2013)-
45. Helps reduce and manage weight
An analysis of the effects of mindfulness on overweight and obese from 15 studies showed mindfulness practices were helpful in losing the weight, maintaining the lost weight, and improving eating attitudes. (Rogers, Ferrari, Mosely, Lang & Brennan, 2017)
46. Increases energy levels
A study at the University of Waterloo found a brief 25-minute session of mindfulness meditation or Hatha Yoga has shown an increase in energy levels and positive health benefits. (Luu & Hall, 2016)
47. Lowers relapse rates in addictions
The use of mindfulness-based therapy (MBRP) to treat and curb cravings were shown to be effective based on 8 weeks of training and a follow up one year later.
The study was done on a randomly selected group and focused on acceptance, awareness, and nonjudgment using a Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention program. (Witkiewitz, Bowen, Douglas & Hsu, 2013)
48. Improves hearing
Testing 132 students for their aesthetic response – their emotional experience to the music, also their flow – how much they felt themselves getting into the music.
The results revealed 97% who practiced meditation experienced both flow and aesthetic response, and 64% of participants have reported they believed mindfulness had enhanced their listening experience. (Diaz, 2013)
49. Suppresses the immune response
Research on the Wim Hof Technique, which touts the benefits of breathing and meditation to withstand intense cold, has revealed the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily influenced.
Wim Hof was part of the study along with 240 other participants. The study concludes he was able to suppress his immune response by 50%. (Kox, van Eijk, Zwaag, van den Wildenberg, Sweep, van der Hoeven & Pickkers, 2011)
50. Helps to calm down skin issues
Meditation has been shown to decrease anxiety levels and lower the stress responses associated with it.
Add to that a recent pilot trial on the effectiveness of meditation on severely itchy skin.
RELATIONSHIPS & SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
51. Increases social connections and emotional intelligence
This study found that participants who practiced loving-kindness meditation built up a buffer of positive emotions which also increased one’s purpose in life, social support among their peers, and a healthier attitude toward dealing with life’s setbacks. (Fredrickson, et al, 2008)
A study on the effects of loving-kindness meditation has shown that through a few short minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward others. (Hutcherson, Seppala & Gross, 2008)
World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence.– DALAI LAMA
Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.
52. Nurtures compassion towards others and to themselves
A randomized controlled trial on compassion cultivation training found a decrease in the fear of compassion and an increase in the openness to accept care and kindness from others; and a lessening of judgemental attitudes towards one’s shortcomings. (Jazaieri, Jinpa, McGonigal, Rosenberg, Finkelstein, Simon-Thomas, Cullen, Doty, Gross, & Goldin, 2012)
While another study done by the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Psychology revealed that compassion training built altruistic behaviors among test participants who participated in the training. (Weng, Fox, Shackman, Stodola, Caldwell, Olson, Rogers & Davidson, 2013)
53. Lessens feelings of isolation
A small trial from Carnegie Mellon showed that mindfulness meditation training helps to lessen feelings of loneliness and isolation in older adults. (Creswell, Irwin, Burklund, Lieberman, Arevalo, Ma, Breen & Cole, 2012)
54. Helps manage social situations
A short 10-minute session of loving-kindness meditation was shown to lower anxiety connected with dealing with social situations – social acceptance and social exclusion.
The results of a study from the University of Arizona shows the effectiveness of meditation as a shield during stressful social situations (Law, 2011)
55. Helps you perform under pressure
A review of data from 697 CEOs, upper and junior level managers, and entrepreneurs found their psychological capital (hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism) was sustained through mindfulness meditation. High psychological capital helps leaders stave off burnout, anxiety, and work-related stress. (Roche, Haarb & Luthans, 2014).
56. Connects you with yourself on a deeper level
Meditation and yoga teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating.
As you meditate and steer yourself to healthier thought patterns, you can grow into your best self. (Singh, Goel, Kathrotia & Patil, 2014)
57. Increases positive emotions and strengthens social connections
A field experiment from 2013 showed that continued practice of loving-kindness meditation led to an increase in compassion, which in turn led to an increase of a positive outlook, that resulted to an increase in the participants’ vagal tone – a physiological marker for well-being. (Kok, Coffey, Cohn, Catalino, Vacharkulksemsuk, Algoe, Brantley & Fredrickson, 2013)
58. Increases prosocial behavior
A study examining the effects of loving-kindness has revealed that the participants who were part of the game measuring prosocial behavior developed increased sensitivity to distress cues, and displayed an increase in prosocial behaviors such as helping, sharing, and reciprocity compared to those in the control group. (Leiberg, Klimecki & Singer, 2011)
59. Decreases biases against minorities
Randomly assigned people who took part in a 6-week meditation program were found to have increased compassion for others.
Loving-kindness meditation also decreases intolerance toward 2 social groups.
The 6-week meditation training decreased the implicit bias and attitudes for stigmatized groups. (Kang, Gray & Dovidio, 2014)
MEDITATION BENEFITS FOR SCHOOL-AGED KIDS AND COLLEGE STUDENTS
60. Improves children’s memory and executive functions
School-aged children who had poor executive functioning abilities (behavior regulation, planning & organization, memory, etc.) and impulse control, and were put in mindful awareness practices (MAPs) showed improved EF as noted by teachers and parents. (Flook, et al., 2010)
61. Encourages children to pay attention
An evaluation was performed on 1st to 3rd graders who took part in a 24-week mindfulness training program designed to help students learn to focus and pay attention.
Results showed an increase in attentional measures for the students who participated in the training compared to those who did not. (Napoli, Krech & Holley, 2004)
62. Improves academic performance
A mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum taught for 12 weeks to preschool children showed higher report card grades and improvements in the ability to handle social interactions.
In comparison, children who did not take part in the Kindness Curriculum exhibited more selfish behavior over time. (Flook, Goldberg, Pinger & Davidson, 2015)
63. Increases optimism and self-esteem
An experimental study on Mindfulness Education (ME) taught to 4th to 7th graders saw an increase in optimism and improved self-esteem compared to students in the control group. (Schonert-Reichl & Lawlor, 2010)
Give the child a taste of meditation by creating a climate and atmosphere of love, acceptance and silence.― SWAMI DHYAN GITEN
64. Helps children find calm and improve sleep
A clinical project that used Tai Chi and MBSR techniques on middle-school students resulted in the children reporting calmness and improved sleep after 5 weeks of practice.
Students also reported relaxation and a sense of connection to nature. (Wall, 2005)
65. Keeps students from excessive drinking
A study from a private college in the Northeast found that high levels of stress drove college students to drink.
The practice of MBSR may be an effective tool to lower stress and counter the drinking that college students do to deal with stress. (Bodenlos, Noonan, & Wells, 2013).
66. Helps children with ADHD manage their aggression issues
33 students diagnosed with ADHD aged 13 to 16 were selected to participate in 6 months of mindfulness therapy.
The students have an impaired ability to interpret and manage their emotions and often acted out in aggression or avoidance.
After the 6 month period, the participants’ aggression scores have gone down, as well as conduct issues. (Sandeep Singh, Soamya & Ramnath, 2016)
67. Lowers psychological distress
An investigation of the effects of mindfulness and emotional regulation showed the higher the mindfulness level of the student, the lower the psychological distress scores are.
From the results, we can say MBSR and mindfulness meditation is helpful as a form of intervention to address psychological distress. (Macdonald, Petocz, Sherman, Kangas & Kasparian, 2016)
68. Meditation as a tool to address bullying
Research has concluded that meditation and mindfulness therapies can be useful as a preventive measure to keep children from turning into bullies. Mindful therapies can help to build empathy. (Kaldis & Abramiuk, 2015)
69. Helps build self-acceptance and enhance relational qualities
A paper looking into how the practice of mindfulness helped medical and psychology students achieve various positive improvements in many areas with an emphasis on increased self-acceptance, patience, and enhanced relational qualities. (Solhaug, Eriksen, de Vibe, Haavind, Friborg, Sørlie & Rosenvinge, 2016)
70. Lets you get a handle on emotion
A study on the practice of mindfulness in female college students revealed higher levels of mindfulness predicted better regulation of emotions contributed to the inhibition of destructive behaviors which then leads to better psychological well-being. (MacDonald & Baxter, 2016).
MEDITATION BENEFITS IN THE WORKPLACE
71. Helps sharpen executive functions
Executive functions cover behaviors such as planning and organization, multitasking, remembering details, and doing or saying things that are appropriate for the situation.
Meditation helps hone executive function by improving control impulses. (Gallant, 2016)
72. Increases job performance in the service industry
The practice of mindfulness meditation in the workplace increases work engagement and job performance and lowers attrition rates as tested on a service industry based study. (Dane & Brummel, 2014)
73. Reduces work-stress and burnout
High burnout rates were lowered and the number of contract hours worked increased after a 6-week meditation training was introduced.
Other positive outcomes include lowered drop-out rates and improved mental and physical work-ability. (De Bruin, Formsma, Frijstein, & Bögels 2017)
Another study has found that mindfulness practice in the workplace acts as a buffer against burnout; reducing work-related stress that leads to sustained professional efficiency.
This results in lower compensation claims from employees who resign and cite work burnout. (Taylor and Millear, 2016)
74. Increased job satisfaction
Short mindfulness intervention in a call center for a financial institution–10 minutes before the start of work and 5 minutes after lunch–decreased psychological stress among workers. There was also a reported increase in satisfaction at work. (Grégoire & Lachance, 2015)
The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear if it is done in mindfulness.– THICH NHAT HANH
75. Improves employees’ social functioning
A study done for public sector employees found mindfulness improved employees’ social functioning (the capacity to interpret emotional cues and respond appropriately), self-soothe and manage emotional outbursts, as well as their quality of life. (Bartlett, Lovell, Otahal, Sanderson, & Tasmania, 2016).
76. Develops resilience and mental health
Mindfulness intervention was found to increase employee resiliency against work stressors. (Aikens, Astin, Pelletier, Levanovich, Baase, Park, & Bodnar, 2014).
While another trial showed improved mental health after 8 weeks of meditation practice.
Both outcomes have positive impacts on work performance. (Huang, Li, Huang, and Tang, 2015)
Further research on mindfulness at work showed that mindfulness can enhance better work adjustments and cushion against unsupportive work environments. (Schultz, Ryan, Niemiec, Legate, & Williams, 2015)
77. Develops a balanced parenting style
A look into the link between mindfulness and parenting reveal that it enhances moment-to-moment awareness in the parent-child relationship.
This leads to less parenting stress and promotes positive parenting. (Gouveia, Carona, Canavarro & Moreira, 2016)
If you meditate regularly, even when you don’t feel like it, you will make great gains, for it will allow you to see how your thoughts impose limits on you. Your resistances to meditation are your mental prisons in miniature.– RAM DASS
78. Enhances athletic performance
Studies have shown that techniques to help athletes cope with challenges on and off the field are effective.
Mindfulness meditation is one such technique and it helps athletes to focus and stay in the zone which in turn increases athletic performance. (Birrer, Röthlin & Morgan, 2012)
Another study which interviewed 235 Olympians who participated in 1984 at Sarajevo and Los Angeles found that mental preparation was a key factor and the only difference between those who won medals and those who did not. (Orlick & Partington, 1988)
79. Increases positive attitudes related to health
The practice of mindfulness among 427 subjects showed that it can increase multiple behaviors related to health – getting regular health check-ups, increasing physical activity, using seat belts, and avoiding nicotine and alcohol (Jacobs, Wollny, Sim, & Horsch, 2016).
80. Helps you get in a flow state
The relationship between mindfulness and the flow state was studied in 2013 and the results revealed the practice of mindfulness helped to predict flow.
The practice of mindfulness helps the practitioner be “in the zone” doing activities they enjoy. This, in turn, increases focus and happiness. See number 1. (Bervoets, 2013)
VIOLENCE REDUCTION & PRISON REHABILITATION
81. Helps to curb your anger and other strong emotions
A controlled trial on the effects of compassion cultivation training (CCT) after 9 weeks of meditative practice “resulted in increased mindfulness and happiness, as well as decreased worry and emotional suppression.”
The results suggest CCT impacts emotions, support psychological flexibility, and adaptability. (Jazaieri, et al., 2013)
Improving your ability to examine your inner thoughts and feelings through control of the body can help to calm anxiety and increase well-being as noted in a study from UC Berkeley.
The answer concludes it does for people with training in activities that develop greater body awareness such as Vipassana meditation and dance. (Sze, Gyurak, Yuan & Levenson, 2010)
82. Increases positive emotions and develop self-control
A study published in 2009 saw an increase in the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and response control in study participants who practiced mindfulness meditation for 8 weeks.
The increase in the size of these areas could “account for meditators’ uncommon abilities and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindfulness behavior.” (Luders, et al, 2009)
83. Aids in trauma recovery
Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and yoga were found to be helpful in calming people with PTSD.
Use of the relaxation techniques along with traditional therapies help to address trauma and lessens the PTSD symptoms of reckless behaviors, problems with focus, anger outbursts, irritability, and sleep disturbance.(Scotland-Coogan & Davis, 2016)
Research from the VA San Diego Healthcare System reviewed mindfulness meditation, mantra, and compassion meditation as alternatives for managing PTSD and its related symptoms.
Available data from previous studies have shown encouraging results in the improvement of the quality of life and reduction of PTSD symptoms. (Lang, Strauss, Bomyea, Bormann, Hickman, Good & Essex, 2012)
84. Lessens anxiety levels
A review of randomized controlled trials has shown transcendental meditation brought down anxiety levels among patients with chronic anxiety, veterans with PTSD, and prison inmates.
Anxiety levels were reduced by 53% to 62% with the effects showing in the first 2 weeks and sustained effects at 3 years. (Orme-Johnson & Barnes 2014)
85. Lowers aggression levels in police officers
Mindfulness helps police officers handle stressful situations, reduce burnout, and increase resiliency.
A study of mindful meditation on police officers of the Hillsboro PD in Oregon showed lower cortisol levels after 3 days of meditation training.
There also were positive improvements in physical and mental factors. (Christopher, Hunsinger,.Goerling, Bowen, Rogers, Gross, Dapolonia & Pruessner, 2018)
If every eight year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.– DALAI LAMA
86. Increases prison officers’ awareness of possible self-harm among inmates
Mindfulness meditation has helped prison officers’ ability to read signs of self-harm on inmates.
It also helped to hone their awareness of prison inmates’ ability or inability to cope with prison life. (Wilson, 2010)
87. Makes prisons healthier places for inmates and their recovery
Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBI) has shown encouraging outcomes for treating mental issues and disorders common among inmates such as mental illness, violence, antisocial personality disorders, alcohol abuse, and addictions. (Maull & Crisp, 2018)
Fascinating data for meditation use and its positive effects.
1. Consumers spent $32 million on self-care apps–like Shine, Headspace, and Calm–making it the app trend of 2018 according to Apple.
Ben Rubin, 10% Happier co-founder compares the current interest in mental health wellness to the fitness trend of the 1970s. (Apple Best of 2018)
2. There is no reliable data that measures the exact number of people who meditate worldwide but the estimate is between 200-500 million.
In the US, the figure is 8%. That’s 18 million Americans practicing meditation, with Mantra, Mindfulness, yoga, and qigong as the most popular choices of meditation techniques. (NHIS Survey on Complementary Health Approaches)
3. Meditation practice increased more than 3x from 4.1% in 2012 to 14.2% in 2017. Meditation is the second most popular complementary health approach after yoga.
Yoga (14.3%), meditation (14.2%), and going to a chiropractor (10.3%) were the most popular complementary approaches in adults aged 18-44. (CDC Data Brief No. 325)
4. 1 in 7 American employees engages in some form of mindfulness activity. The practice is more prevalent in white-collar workers compared to farm and blue collar workers.
The study shows that adding mindfulness practices to the workplace experience benefits not just the employees but the company as well by reducing stress, burnout, absenteeism, and improving productivity. (Mindfulness Practices In The US Workforce)
5. Women are 4% more likely to practice meditation than men, 16% compared to 12%. While the difference is 11% for yoga with 19.8% of women practicing yoga versus only 8.6% for men.
The results are the same regardless of the age group. In children, girls are more likely to use yoga than boys.(NHIS Survey on Complementary Health Approaches)
6. Speaking of children, 5% of children in the US meditate, a huge jump from 0.6% in 2012.
Yoga practice also increased from 3.1 % in 2012 to 8.4% in 2017. The increase is likely caused by the inclusion of meditation in over 90 schools in 13 states. The results show school reporting fewer instances of suspensions and absences, and improved attention-skills test scores, and reduction in aggressive behavior. (Benefits of Meditation in School)
What should you do next? Try out meditation and discover the life-changing benefits it brings for your body, emotions, and general well-being.
There are many types of meditation and it generally falls into 2 categories: Open Monitoring and Focused Attention.
If you are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of available information out there on the different types of meditation, check out our article 26 Types of Meditation and How To Do Each One.
Find the meditation type that suits you and your lifestyle, and you are on your way to a healthier mind and body.
Remember this: meditation is free; anyone can meditate regardless of age, physical and mental health; there are no risks to your health, and it is scientifically proven time and again to bring you better physical and psychological health.