You may have heard anecdotally that meditation is good for you, but increasingly, studies are showing just how and why it’s so effective for the brain and overall health. From lowering stress and anxiety to boosting your grey matter and control over thoughts and emotions, meditation clearly offers many positive mental health effects. Review some of the recent research and check with your healthcare practitioner to find out if meditation is right for you.
Lower pain. Research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center concluded that over an hour of meditation training lowered pain intensity by 40 percent and pain unpleasantness by 57 percent. As lead researcher Fadel Zeidan says, the study shows real effects of meditation in the brain and offers a way for people to potentially curb pain without medications.
Brain protection. Cerebral grey matter can deteriorate as we age, but a recent UCLA study found that participants who had meditated for an average of 20 years had less grey-matter volume loss than non-meditators.
Fewer wandering thoughts. The default mode network (DMN) is the brain network behind self-referential thoughts and mind-wandering– those chattering background thoughts often correlated with unhappiness. But Yale University researchers determined that mindfulness meditation lowered DMN activity, plus meditators were better able to turn their mental focus away from DMN musings.
More compassion. Many maintain that meditation increases empathy for others, but scientific evidence was scant. In 2013, however, a Harvard University and Northeastern University study found that 50% of study participants who took meditation classes helped someone in a staged scenario, compared to only 15% of participants who didn’t meditate.
Decreased anxiety. Many studies have linked mindfulness meditation to lower anxiety levels. One study in Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, for instance, concluded that mindfulness meditation significantly reduced anxiety, while breathing focused exercises did not.
Improved emotional processing. A study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston University and other research centres, found that doing an eight-week meditation training program measurably impacted brain function even when participants weren’t meditating. Brain scans after meditation training showed positive changes in the amygdala, the part of the brain connected with stress response and processing emotion.
The helpful impacts of meditation are easy to grasp, but meditating effectively and regularly can be hard. The brain-sensing Muse headband makes meditation easier by taking out the guesswork. It’s the first tool in the world that can give you accurate, real-time feedback on what’s happening in your brain while you meditate. Plus, it provides motivational challenges and rewards to encourage you to build a regular practice. Buy it now or read on to find out how it works, and what people have to say about it.