A lot of people think meditation means doing and thinking nothing. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.
Below are some of the benefits meditation can bring
It's Great for Depression - Data from 47 different clinical trials finds meditation as effective as antidepressants. A central symptom of depression is rumination: when depressing thoughts roll around and around in the mind. Unfortunately, you can’t just tell a depressed person to stop thinking depressing thoughts; it’s pointless. That’s because treating the symptoms of depression is partly about taking control of the person’s attention. One method that can help is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is all about living in the moment, rather than focusing on past regrets or future worries. A recent review of 39 studies on mindfulness has found that it can be beneficial in treating depression (Hofmann et al., 2010).
A Pain Killer with No Side Effects - Research has found that meditation is an effective treatment of pain.
If you regularly meditate, your brain structures are altered and you will experience less pain. When you consider that meditation has no side-effects in comparison to medication, it starts to look even rosier.
Joshua Grant explains: “Through training, Zen meditators appear to thicken certain areas of their cortex and this appears to create a lower sensitivity to pain.”
Lasting Emotional Control - Meditation can help provide lasting emotional control. That means less confrontation and healthier relationships of all kinds.
In a study on the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation, Britta Hölzel, said: “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”
You’ll Be Kinder - Meditation has been proven to help people be more virtuous and compassionate.
In one study on compassion, those who had been meditating were 50% more likely to help a person in pain. One of the study’s authors, David DeSteno, said: “The truly surprising aspect of this finding is that meditation made people willing to help another who was suffering–even in the face of a norm not to do so.”
Get More Done in Less Time - Who doesn't want that right? Meditation is so powerful that after only 8 weeks, the brain’s structure changes.
You are able to fit more into your day with less stress while doing it. Research has found significant benefits for novice meditators from only 80 minutes of meditation over 4 days. Meditators improved their memory, executive functioning and visio-spatial processing. Improvements ranged from 15% to over 50%. The authors concluded: “… four days of meditation training can enhance the ability to sustain attention; benefits that have previously been reported with long-term meditators.”
Meditate to Create - The right type of meditation can help solve some creative problems.
In a study where participants had to take a classic creativity task (thinking up of as many uses as you can for a brick), those using an ‘open monitoring’ method of meditation came up with the most ideas. This indicated those who practiced mediation were more creative. The open monitoring meditation method focused on breathing to set the mind free.
Work Smarter Not Harder - Meditation benefits different aspects of cognition and improves work performance.
In a study testing HR manager’s multi-tasking abilities, those who practiced meditation performed better on office multi tasking than those who had not been meditating. Meditating managers were better able to stay on task and as a result, also experienced less stress.
A group who had not practised meditation before, undertook an 8-week training course in mindfulness-based stress reduction, a type of meditation. The results showed that those who had received training were better at focusing their attention than the group who didn’t.
Reduce Anxiety - Meditation is often recommended for those experiencing anxiety.
One of many recent studies found that four, 20-minute meditation classes were enough to reduce anxiety by up to 39%.
Cognition Accelerated by Just 4 x 20 Minutes Meditation
The full article: How Meditation Improves Attention
(Condon et al., 2013)