Evidence suggests meditation has been around since 1500 BCE, making it well over 3500 years old. But what is about this ancient art form that’s survived the test of time and what are the current scientific studies telling us about the benefits of meditation?
When the first New York marathon was run in 1970 there were only 127 competitors. A time when little was known about the benefits of physical exercise for our health and wellbeing. Nowadays these are widely publicised, and 46 years on there were over 50,000 runners in the 2016 New York marathon.
Exercise has become an integral part of our daily lives, and at Technotox, we believe it’s only a matter of time before meditation follows the same route. After all, now the evidence exists, why shouldn’t we spend as much time and money looking after our mental and emotional health as we do our physical health?
If you’re still not convinced, or simply need reminding of meditation’s plethora of benefits, we’ve chosen our top ten to share with you –
- Boosts positive emotions
Meditating stimulates activity in the pre-frontal cortex, the area of our brains associated with positive emotions.
Contemplative meditations like loving-kindness, where we choose to cultivate loving feelings, also act as triggers for positive emotions. Boosting our mood and allowing us to access these positive feelings more readily once the mood has passed (neuroplasticity).
- Reduces stress and boosts immunity
Meditating encourages us to relax and as a result helps to reduce our stress levels. Research also shows it boosts our immunity.
- Helps to fight depression
Studies prove that a course of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (now offered on the NHS), is just as effective at fighting depression as a course of antidepressants.
- Improves concentration
During meditation, we learn to bring our wandering minds back to an anchor (breath or sound) time and time again, becoming aware of interruptions, distractive thoughts and tendencies. This helps to improve our focus and concentration, something which is increasingly important in this hectic digital age.
- Encourages empathy
Meditation increases activity in the inferior frontal gyrus and the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex of our brains, both of which are associated with empathy.
- Improves awareness and self-management
Meditation allows us to familiarise ourselves with our internal landscapes (mind and body). Providing an ideal time to be curious and explore what’s going on.
With regular practice, this increased awareness of our thoughts and emotions, spills into every aspect of our lives and self-management becomes easier.
- Makes us more resilient
The more we practise meditating, the more we realise thoughts aren’t real and emotions aren’t permanent. Instead, they are temporary and we become increasingly aware of the impermanence of difficulty and tough times. This in turn improves our resilience.
- Provides conscious choice
Meditation allows us to observe our thoughts and to become aware of our impulses from moment to moment. With this awareness and recognition, we’re given a conscious choice around how we respond. Whether we react on impulse or respond with consideration.
- Reduces our tendency to obsess
Once we begin to notice the triggers for negative and obsessive thought patterns, we can make a conscious effort to stop them. Through mindfulness meditation, we learn to let go of thoughts. And as a result we can put a stop to poisonous, obsessive thoughts before they become spirals of negativity.
- Gives us purpose and meaning
The more time we spend alone with ourselves, the more we touch base with our intuition and values. With this knowledge we can begin to make lifestyle choices aligned to what gives our lives purpose and helps us to feel fulfilled.