Just like people shouldn’t give a gift with the expectation of something in return, you shouldn’t spend your time practicing meditation with the hope of “getting something” from your practice. After all, if you spend your time during meditation asking “why aren’t I happy yet,” you’ll never get anything out of practicing at all.
With that being said there are some significant benefits that you can gain from regularly meditating. Knowing about these rewards can help you stay on track as you lay a foundation for your practice.
1. Meditation can keep your brain more youthful.
A report published in the academic journal Frontiers of Psychology found that regular meditation practice can slow down the degeneration of “grey matter” in your brain. Grey matter is a central component of the central nervous system. Grey matter contains most of the brain’s neuronal cell bodies. It is involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Loss of this area is not something you want to lose as you age as that may lead to problems like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
2. Meditation can reduce the inflammation in your brain.
A report published in the academic journal Biological Psychiatry found that mindfulness meditation combined with regular stretching led to lower levels of inflammation in the brain related to stress. To top things off, there was more healthful stimulation in the areas of the brain that are responsible for concentration and tranquillity.
3. Meditation can improve your memory
A study led by Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar also found that meditators have more grey matter, this time specifically in the frontal cortex. This brain region is linked to behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. It is also vital to have a well-functioning memory.
4. Meditation can make you fearless … or at least fear less …
The same study referenced above found that brain scans from meditators have healthier amygdala. The amygdala is a part of Limbic System in our brains; it is the reason we are afraid of things outside our control. It also controls the way we react to specific stimuli or an event that causes an emotion, that we see as potentially threatening or dangerous. This amygdala-effect may be what causes a marked reduction in stress levels in those that meditate on a regular basis. According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, meditation reduces stress hormones by about the same amount as anti-depressants.
5. Meditation improves our ability to concentrate
Nothing in our modern and very distracting world is more precious than the ability to focus. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that within just a few days of starting a meditation practice our ability to concentrate improves. Researchers followed a group of participants studying for the GRE test. The GRE is a broad assessment of your critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills. This review found that meditators scored 16 points higher than non-meditators on the verbal reasoning section of the test.
If you are looking for a place to get started with your meditation practice, feel free to swing by the Jade Dragon Meditation & Qigong School. This website is an online school with a great, and free, introductory course on how to get started meditating. This program will help you get on the right track so you can be confident that you are on the right path to gaining the benefits described above!
We look forward to seeing you there!