7 Scientifically Validated Benefits of Meditation

Health Benefits of Meditation

Scientific research into the health benefits of meditation is accumulating daily. Below are just some of the scientific validations of meditation’s many health benefits that have been published in the last few years.

1. Increased Neuroplasticity

800px-Culture_of_rat_brain_cells_stained_with_antibody_to_MAP2_(green),_Neurofilament_(red)_and_DNA_(blue)Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt and evolve, structurally and functionally, based on input from the environment. The mental space and freedom created through meditation has a dramatic effect on this neuroplasticity which is always a point of call in healing any disease – be it physical or psychological. Neuroplasticity is also directly effected to transformation, and our ability to be responsive in real time to the challenges and opportunities of our daily lives.

Research by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has shown that experienced meditators exhibit high levels of gamma wave activity and display an ability (continuing after the meditation session has ended) to not get stuck on particular stimuli.

2. Meditation Increases Grey Matter

A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this means is that the brain is aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.

3. More Rejuvenation than Sleeping

College students were asked to either sleep, meditate or watch TV by a study in 2006. They were then tested on their alertness by being asked to hit a button every time a light flashed on a screen. The meditators did better than the nappers and TV watchers — by a whole 10 percent.

4. Better for Blood Pressure 

In 2008, Dr. Randy Zusman, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital, asked patients suffering from high blood pressure to try a meditation-based relaxation program for three months. The patients’  blood pressure had not previously been controlled by medication.

After meditating regularly for three months, 40 of the 60 patients showed significant drops in blood pressure levels and were able to reduce some of their medication.

The reason? Relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide which opens up blood vessels.

5. A Longer Life

Telomeres – the protective caps at the end of our chromosomes – are the new frontier of anti-aging science. Longer telomeres mean that you’re also likely to live longer.

Research done by the University of California, Davis’ Shamatha Project has shown that meditators have significantly higher telomerase activity that non-meditators. Telomerase is the enzyme that helps build telomeres, and greater telomerase activity can possibly translate into stronger and longer telomeres.

6. Greater Immunity800px-Parallel_telomere_quadruple

A 2008 study on HIV positive patients found that, after an eight-week meditation course, patients who meditated showed no decline in lymphocyte content compared with non-meditators who showed a significant reduction in lymphocytes.

Lymphocytes or white blood cells are the “brain” of the body’s immune system, and are particularly important for HIV positive people. The study also found that lymphocyte levels actually went up with each meditation session.

7. Pain Relief

In 2011, a study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist University found that meditation could reduce pain intensity by 40 percent and pain unpleasantness by 57 percent. Morphine and other pain-relieving drugs typically show a pain reduction of 25 percent. Meditation works by reducing activity in the somatosensory cortex and increasing activity in other areas of the brain.

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