4 benefits of meditation

Amber Brockman, News Editor

The practice of meditation is gaining popularity as a way to help ease symptoms of many health conditions and improve quality of life, with countless studies showing a variety of benefits.

Most people are able to cope with the demands of everyday life, but situations can arise that take a toll on the body and mind.

Amber Brockman / Advance-Titan
Meditation is a simple, yet rewarding skill that can help you reduce stress and improve your mental health.

While you can’t control what happens to you, you can learn to control your response to challenging situations so you don’t add to your suffering, and one way to do that is with meditation.

Here are some benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation as backed by scientific research.

Reduces stress
One of the most common reasons people choose to practice meditation and mindfulness is to help manage stress.

During meditation, your attention is focused on the present moment, which allows you to enter a state of relaxation that can help free your mind from the many distractions that cause stress.

Studies have shown that one of the main hormones involved in the stress response decreased significantly during meditation and remained low afterward.

Improves attention
Since a strong focus of attention is an important component of meditation, it’s not surprising that many studies suggest it can enhance concentration and attention span.

Scientific research has shown that meditation can reduce mind wandering and improve your ability to solve problems.

Researchers have also found that meditation helps to counter habituation, which is the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in your environment.

“Mindfulness as a mode of sustained and receptive attention promotes openness to each incoming stimulus, even if repetitive and/or aversive,” according to a study published by the Public Library of Science.

Improves sleep
Research has shown that practicing meditation can increase the hormones associated with sleep regulation and can have a positive effect on autonomic activity during specific sleep states.

One study that focused on the efficacy of mindfulness meditation as a treatment for chronic insomnia found that meditation-based treatment significantly reduced the participants’ total wake time in bed.

“Intense meditation practices help to achieve a harmony between body and mind,” according to a study published by Frontiers in Neurology. “Meditation practices influence brain functions, induce intrinsic neural plasticity events, modulate autonomic, metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions and thus mediate global regulatory changes in various behavioral states including sleep.”

Improves mental health
Meditation can improve your mental health by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to research in a variety of scientific journals.

“Existing research on MBIs [mindfulness-based interventions], which includes meditation, supports the theory that cultivation of greater attention, awareness, and acceptance through meditation practices is associated with lower levels of psychological distress, including decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, worry, and anger,” according to this Psychology Research and Behavior Management article.

One study, which focused on the effects of meditation on college students’ experience of stress, anxiety, depression and perfectionistic thoughts, found that the subjects showed a significant decline on all variables after practicing meditation for two semesters.

Although other treatments are available, like medication and therapy, meditation doesn’t have side effects and it’s accessible to you anytime, anywhere.