What images does your mind conjure when you think of meditation? A man sitting cross-legged atop a mountain, humming to himself as he attempts to become one with the surrounding trees? A Buddhist monk, bald-headed and robed, chanting loudly as he fondles a string of ancient prayer beads? Many of us assume that meditation is a practice left exclusively to the enlightened – to those with ample time and excessive amounts of anomalous patience. As it so turns out, meditation is a practice that will greatly benefit anyone who can spare several minutes per day.
Furthermore, meditation has proven to be a crucial component of comprehensive recovery for those battling substance abuse disorders. Yes, meditation is good for you – whether you’re a stay-at-home soccer mom, a high-profile business man, or a newly sober heroin addict. But why? What specific benefits does meditation offer that other spiritual practices (such as going to church or observing breath work) do not? We have compiled a detailed list of many emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of meditation to help you better understand its importance. The findings are based on over 3,000 scientific studies conducted on numerous types of meditation, and all assembled in one easy-to-understand article. Please enjoy – and if you feel we’ve left anything out, please feel free to let us know!
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has proven to provide innumerable emotional benefits.
Here are some of the most frequently noted:
- Lessens depression
- Lessens loneliness, fear, and impulsivity
- Lessens anxiety and stress
- Improves resilience against pain
- Improves self-esteem and sense of self-worth
- Increases emotional awareness
- Increases optimism and relaxation
- Helps improve positive social connections
- Helps prevent smoking and emotional eating
There are many physical benefits related to daily meditative practice. Many have noted physical improvements after only several weeks of dedicating 20 minutes per day to meditation.
Here are several of the most commonly experienced physical benefits:
- Increases energy levels
- Improves immune systems
- Improves breathing
- Improves heart health – reduces blood pressure
- Increases longevity
- Lessens premenstrual symptoms and symptoms of menopause
- Decreases symptoms of asthma and other inflammatory disorders
- Strengthens the heart and the brain
- Helps to prevent Fibromyalgia and Arthritis
Many individuals who practice meditation on a daily basis report improved mental faculties and increased mental capabilities.
Here are some of the most frequently reported mental benefits of meditative practice:
- Increases focus
- Improved mental strength
- Increases memory and mental recall
- Improves problem solving skills
- Increases creative thinking
- Better decision making
- Better information processing
- Helps to eliminate symptoms of ADHD
Now let us take a closer look at several of these claims, and explore the scientific reasoning behind a few of the innumerable benefits daily mediation offers.
Meditation, Depression, and Anxiety
Professor Filip Raes conducted an extensive study in five large middle schools in Belgium, involving over 400 students between the ages of 13 and 20. The professor found that those students who participated in a daily mindfulness program, inclusive of daily in-class meditation, reported reduced anxiety, stress levels, and depression up to six months later. These students were also found to suffer from symptoms of depression far less frequently than students who were not enrolled in the mindfulness program. A similar study conducted at The University of California found that mindfulness meditation decreased dysfunctional beliefs and ruminative thinking in students who had suffered from depression in the past.
Medical New Today recently reported that mindfulness meditation also helps to decrease symptoms of depression in mothers-to-be, while strengthening the bond they have to their unborn children. Another article, published in the online magazine Scientific American, suggested that mindfulness meditation may be as effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders as pharmaceutical therapy. It has been found that those who practice meditation regularly are more likely and able to attend moment-to-moment to the constant stream of stimuli they are being persistently exposed to, rather than ‘getting stuck’ on any one stimuli for an extended period of time. Gaining the ability to recognize and alter detrimental thought patterns is also a proven benefit of meditation, and is an effective practice when it comes to alleviating stress and anxiety.
Meditation and Next Chapter
We at Next Chapter are aware of the many benefits of daily meditative practice, thus we have incorporated the beneficial method of mindfulness and interconnectedness into our daily curriculum of treatment. Our clients will be given the opportunity to practice guided meditation under an experienced professional, and will learn to incorporate meditation into their daily lives in a realistic and beneficial way. Numerous studies have concluded that daily mindfulness meditation is hugely advantageous to those in recovery for alcoholism or drug addiction. We utilize holistic techniques such as meditation to enhance the recovery process, allowing each and every one of our clients the opportunity to live a fulfilled life free from the devastation of addiction.