Over the past 20 years, scientists have been studying mindfulness, a set of practices that help us cultivate moment-to-moment awareness about ourselves and our surroundings. The early discoveries sparked a lot of interest in meditation.
Sometimes journalists, scientists, and even doctors can exaggerate the mental and physical health benefits of mindfulness, leading to growing doubts about this practice. learn all about the science behind meditation, from experts
1) Meditation can almost certainly sharpen your attention.
Meditation is a practice that focuses on improving attention. It’s not surprising that meditation can affect your attention. Researchers have shown that meditation can help to combat habituation, which is the tendency to not pay attention to new information in the environment. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help reduce mind wandering and improve our ability to solve problems.
Best ways to learn the scientific benefits of meditation,
The good news is that mindfulness training can improve attention for up to five years. This suggests that trait-like changes may be possible.
2) Consistent meditation over a long period of time seems to increase stress resilience.
We are not saying that meditation reduces the body’s psychological and physiological reactions to dangers and obstacles. However, studies have shown that meditation can help the body and mind recover from stressful situations and stress.
Meditation, especially for those who are long-term meditators, is known to reduce the inflammatory response of people who have been exposed to psychological stressors. Neuroscience research has shown that mindfulness practices can reduce activity in the amygdala, and increase connections between the amygdala & prefrontal cortex. These parts of our brain allow us to be less reactive and recover faster from stressors.
3) Meditation appears to increase compassion. Meditation also increases compassion effectiveness.
We may be compassionate, but we can also be affected by the suffering of others. This can lead to paralysis and withdrawal.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that loving-kindness meditation can increase our willingness to help others. This appears to work by reducing amygdala activity when there is suffering. It also activates circuits in our brain that are connected with good feelings and love.
4) Meditation seems to improve mental health, but it is not more effective than other actions you can take.
Early research showed that mindfulness meditation could have a profound effect on mental health. However, scientific doubt has grown about these claims as more studies have been conducted.
Research also raises interesting questions about meditation’s effectiveness.
5) Mindfulness can have a positive effect on your relationships
Many studies have shown a positive correlation between mindfulness and quality of relationships. This is likely a result of the effects we have already discussed.
In one study in 2016, researchers measured mindfulness in 88 couples. They then measured cortisol levels for each couple prior to and after discussing a conflict in their relationships. Cortisol levels rose during the discussion, which is a sign that there was high stress. However, levels in mindful people (both men and women) were quicker to return to normal once the conflict was over. This suggests that they were staying cool. This is consistent with many studies on mindfulness in romantic relationships, from the beginning to end.
6) Mindfulness appears to reduce many types of bias.
More and more research is showing that mindfulness meditation can decrease psychological bias.
One study showed that a short mindfulness training reduced unconscious bias towards elderly and black people. Another, however, found that the practice of loving-kindness meditation reduces prejudice against homeless people. Adam Lueke and his colleagues found that white participants who had received brief mindfulness training showed less bias toward black participants in trust games.
7) Meditation has a modest impact on your physical health.
Although many claims about mindfulness and physical well-being have been made, they are sometimes difficult to verify or mixed up with other effects. There is good evidence to suggest that meditation can affect physiological indicators of health.
As we’ve mentioned, meditation can be used to reduce stress-related inflammation. Meditators also seem to have higher levels of telomerase activity, which is an enzyme that helps prolong cell life and therefore longevity.
8) Meditation may not be right for everyone.
Many believe that mindfulness practice will always induce calm and peace. This can be a good experience for some, but it’s not for everyone. Sometimes, it can be difficult to sit quietly with yourself. Individuals who have suffered trauma may find sitting down and meditating difficult. They might also be able to recall painful past experiences and memories that are decades old.
9) Which type of meditation is best for you? It all depends.
Mindfulness is a broad umbrella that encompasses many types of practice. In 2016, a study found that four types of meditation have different benefits.
Four types of meditation were compared and each one has its own benefits.
Participants saw the greatest increases in their awareness of their bodies during body scans. They also experienced the sharpest decreases in the number and types of thoughts that they had, especially negative thoughts and thoughts about the future and past. The greatest increase in warmth and positive thoughts about other people was seen through the Loving-kindness Meditation.
10) How much meditation should I do? It also depends.
This is not the answer that most people want to hear. Many people are searching for a medically prescribed answer (e.g. three times per week for 45-60 mins), but this Zen saying might be the best: “You should meditate for twenty minutes every single day, unless you’re too busy.” You should then sit down for at least an hour.