If you actively read health or wellness blogs, you’re likely no stranger to the benefits of meditation.
Mindful meditation can help ease anxiety, keep you focused, and lower your stress levels. Meditation enthusiasts often brag about how this simple practice helps keep their mind clear and refreshed.
In fact, the practice of meditation is an ancient wellness technique that dates back to 5000 – 3500 B.C. and has more benefits than you might think.
While lowering anxiety and increasing focus are excellent goals to aim for, why stop there?
If Meditation Is so Beneficial, Why Aren’t We Trying It?
Mindful meditation can help your mind stay calm and present and only requires 10-30 minutes of concentration per day. Yet, even though most of us know the benefits of meditation, many of us still don’t give it a try.
For many, the small benefits may not be enough to encourage trying out meditation. Plus, with access to technology, it’s easier than ever to distract ourselves and convince ourselves we’re relaxing.
But what if we told you meditation actually has several long-term benefits that can reshape your brain and change your life?
Would you give it a try then?
Some of the lesser known benefits are pretty surprising and might have you excited to finally add meditation to your daily routine.
Read on to find out what mindful meditation can do for you:
1. Makes You More Compassionate
Today, empathy is at an all-time low. While social media, the internet, and general access to technology may take some of blame, a lack of mindfulness is the real culprit.
Meditation can improve your ability to feel compassion and empathy for others.
Mindful meditation encourages you to focus your energy and concentration on the now, instead of letting your mind wander to the list of tasks you’ve yet to accomplish or possible what-if scenarios.
By eliminating negative energy and worries from your mind, scientists have found that empathy naturally increases, even if no particular attention is spent on increasing compassion.
Simply being conscious of what’s happening in the present moment is enough to trigger increased empathy.
Consider this scenario: a person walking down a hallway stumbles and drops a stack of papers. What are all of the reasons why you wouldn’t help them?
You’re running late to a meeting, unsure of how long the task will take, not really paying attention to the problem, etc.
While others shoot apologetic glances and walk by, someone with practice in mindfulness is more likely to help. Why?
Practicing meditation will keep you focused on the present, rather than the future, making it more likely that someone who meditates would only see the person in need of compassion and help, without further thought.
2. Boosts Your Self Control
We’ve all been there—you’re having the worst day and then your boss piles onto your workload with assignments that aren’t even in your job description.
So, when the takeout place messes up your order, you lash out at your boyfriend, because he suggested the restaurant.
Lashing out is unfair to others and it can severely impact our mental health. But, it can be difficult to fix in the moment if you lack mindfulness.
If you struggle with willpower or outbursts of emotion, mindful meditation may be the answer you’ve been seeking.
Research has proven that those who meditate develop better control over their emotions.
Mindful meditation can help quiet the mind when heightened emotional responses occur and help you regulate emotions, keeping them in check.
3. Reduces Inflammation in the Body
Anti-inflammatory diets aren’t just a fitness trend. They’re all the rage because they promote health benefits and help your body heal and flourish.
Inflammation can lead to a variety of unwanted side effects, ranging from muscle pain to acne.
Reducing inflammation is a goal of many wellness programs, and now, mindful meditation can be added to the list of reducers.
A recent study found a positive link between mindful meditation and reduced inflammation at the cellular level in the body.
It’s common knowledge that there’s a link between increased stress levels and inflammation, so it makes sense that practicing mindfulness, a stress reducer, would also lead to decreased levels of inflammation.
This is also great news for anyone suffering from chronic inflammation pain, since meditation is a free and simple technique that could lead to decreased pain and inflammation.
4. Increases Grey Matter in the Brain
We all know that as we get older, our brain function decreases. It’s just a side effect of aging.
Grey matter helps our brains process information and is found in areas of the brain responsible for sensory perception (like memory) and muscle control.
As we age, grey matter naturally decreases in size, but meditation can help combat this loss.
Larger volumes of grey matter were found in individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation, over the course of a long-term study, which proves mindfulness can reshape the way your brain works.
This also helps shed light on claims that meditation increases focus and memory, since grey matter is responsible for aiding in these crucial functions.
5. Helps Improve Your Sleep
Lack of sleep is a real problem for Americans that just about all of us can relate to.
In the U.S., 68% of the population struggles to fall asleep at least once a week, while 27% almost always have problems falling or staying asleep.
Sleep problems take a toll on your entire body and can lead to severe side effects, but they can be difficult to cure.
If you struggle to fall asleep, you may be interested to know that a clinical trial found incorporating mindful meditation into daily routines can help promote rest.
Since mindful meditation is closely linked with increased relaxation, the positive link between meditation and better sleep makes sense.
6. Improves Your Relationships
When relationships go bad, in many cases poor communication is at fault.
Often, we’re not always tuned into our partner’s needs or misunderstand their intentions. This can be caused by not being present and using past patterns to dictate our reactions.
Uncontrolled emotional responses also can lead to toxic relationships. With meditation, however, you can regain control of your emotional responses, help become more aware of your partner’s needs, and effectively communicate.
The benefits of communication and meditation expand beyond just romantic relationships—they can improve all social and professional relationships.
7. Decreases the Occurrence of Depression
While it’s known that mindful meditation can help those who suffer from anxiety, this practice has also been shown to decrease depressive symptoms. While meditation cannot “cure” depression, it has been shown to be an excellent coping tool.
Meditation helps reduce ruminating (deeply thinking about something), which has been shown to lead to depressive tendencies. While deep thinking on its own is not harmful, obsessing over regrets, traumatic events, or negative experiences can lead to depression.
Adding mindful meditation to your routine can fight off this tendency, reducing the severity and frequency of depressive episodes.
Why Aren’t You Meditating?
With benefits like these, mindful meditation seems like an easy solution to some of our worst mental, emotional, and physical wellness problems.
From reshaping the way our brains work to improving our social connections, it’s no wonder this ancient practice has stuck around for centuries.