Numerous studies have proven the benefits of regular meditation. These can include decreased stress, improved concentration, lower blood pressure, and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, just to name a few. And while there are different types of meditation, they can all offer a similar set of proven benefits for mental and physical health. Here’s what research has found.
1. Better focus and concentration
Mindfulness meditation helps you focus on the present, which can improve your concentration on other tasks in daily life. A 2011 study from the Harvard Medical School examined the effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain and found a connection between mindfulness and processing new information.
The researchers examined the brains of 17 people before and after participating in an eight-week meditation program. Brain scans showed an increase in gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and emotional regulation.
Additionally, a 2016 study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University demonstrated how mindfulness meditation can improve concentration and decision making.
The study consisted of 35 unemployed adults looking for work. One group participated in a three-day relaxation program without mindfulness meditation components, while the other group participated in three days of mindfulness meditation. Brain scans before and after showed an increase in connectivity among parts of the brain that control attention for the meditation group.
“Research shows we can actually train our attention and our meta-awareness, and that this is a learnable skill,” says Richard Davidson, PhD, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds.