Meditation is an ancient practice that goes back farther than anyone can remember. Even without modern science, the ancients recognized the importance of quieting the spirit and mind. They saw merit in mantras, mudras, sounds and so much more. But in today’s society, with all of the technology that we have, you may be asking, “Conservehealth, is there scientific proof that meditation works?” Let’s unpack a few things to find out.
What is Meditation?
Simply put, meditation is a mental exercise that teaches us to be more aware and attentive. One of the main goals is to reign in our responses to our negative thoughts and emotions. There are many different meditation techniques, but they all have a very similar goal in mind: overall well-being. Almost every culture has incorporated some sort of meditation at one point in history. Meditation can be done completely independent of religious, spiritual, or cultural beliefs or practices.
The Proof’s in the Pudding
Those who practice meditation have some pretty big claims when it comes to how meditation can benefit those who practice regularly. It’s been said to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, improve the immune system, and more. Of course, these benefits sound great! Who doesn’t want to have improved body systems and happier life? But can meditation really result in all of this? Is there any scientific proof that these are very real and possible benefits of meditating? The short answer is, yes!
A 2014 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that looked at 1,295 participants, showed that there is a correlation between meditation and reduced levels of anxiety. The effect was most notable in those with higher levels of anxiety. And Brain, Behavior, and Immunity published a study showing that mindfulness meditation brought down the inflammation response caused by stress. Lower blood pressure is also supported by science. Not only does blood pressure decrease during meditation, but it also decreases overall over time with regular meditation. And this review shows that chronic pain can be mitigated with mindfulness meditation while also improving quality of life.
How to Meditate
If you are interested in getting started with meditation, here are a few simple steps to get you started.
- Find a quiet spot to sit that doesn’t have a lot of distractions and set a time limit.
- Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. You can also lie on your back if you prefer.
- Start by taking a couple of deep breaths. Then start breathing normally, noticing how the air feels entering and exiting your body, nostrils, lungs, back, and more.
- Notice your thoughts as they pass through, but try not to engage with them.
If you think this is too complicated or you would prefer another method, try downloading a free meditation app like Insight Timer on your device and use it to help you get going with your meditation practice.
There is lots of scientific proof to back up the benefits of meditation. Although it has not been shown to cure depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and other distressing conditions, it has been shown to reduce symptoms. So adding meditation to your healthcare regimen might not be such a bad idea. Just be sure to check in with your medical care team first.