The Fascinating Science Behind Meditation

There is nothing ‘woo woo’ about meditation. It’s scientifically proven to improve your health!

Meditation began as a practice cultivated by a niche community. Now, mindfulness and meditation is a mainstream activity in the U.S., with many advocating its effectiveness in everyday life. There are many methods of meditation, all leading to similar results that promote wellbeing and positivity. While the practice has been gaining popularity, many are still skeptical in terms of the scientific basis behind it. People are looking for hard facts that show how exercises like meditation are indeed beneficial. This article hopes to shed light on the fascinating science that lies behind meditation and mindfulness.

The Fascinating Science Behind Meditation

The Fascinating Science Behind Meditation

The Scientific American defines meditation as an intentional form of awareness. One of the effects of meditation is how it can enhance learning and memory. The Atlantic cites a groundbreaking study that proves how meditation can help students and adults improve their learning ability, specifically through their improved capacity to focus on one task at a time. This research has been noted and is leading to a change in how schools look after their students. In Maryville University’s industry evaluation for psychology students  they report that there is an increasing demand for specialists who understand the connection between psychology and education. The correlation between learning and meditation, as shown in the Atlantic article, proves how there is still much to discover in terms of how mindfulness can help people absorb new knowledge.

Studies have also proven that mindfulness can help reduce psychological biases in a person. Meditation helps in decreasing prejudices people have towards others who are different from them, making them more sympathetic and understanding. For example, a study conducted by Diana Burgess et al. proved that mindfulness is an effective solution towards addressing the problem of implicit racial and ethnic biases healthcare providers might have towards patients. Mindfulness helps healthcare professionals reduce the likelihood they will have instinctual bias towards a person, and it also makes them self-aware whenever these biases do occur.

Another advocated effect of meditation is its relation to a decrease in stress. Mindful.org makes a clear distinction by saying that people who meditate are not necessarily less prone to psychological reactions during stressful situations. They are however more resilient to stress. This means that they are able to cope with stressful situations better, and can bounce back from stress easier. This claim is backed by neuroscience research that shows how mindfulness practices inhibit activity in our amygdala and prefrontal cortex. This brain reaction is what helps us recover better from stressful situations that may come our way.

Research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health also proves that meditation has effects on a person’s physical wellbeing. A study of 298 university students suggest that practicing meditation may lower the blood pressure of individuals at risk of developing hypertension. Another study suggests that meditation can help individuals in dealing with pain. This is because the practice activates certain areas of the brain that are responsible for pain management.

Learning about mindfulness in relation to science helps give clarity to the concrete effects of meditation. Who would have thought that a practice founded by eastern cultures back in the 1500s would result in numerous wonderful health benefits grounded in research? If any of these effects resonate with your health and wellness goals, consider making meditation a regular part of your day.

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Written by:


Guest Writer, Joan Peterson

Written by:


Guest Writer, Joan Peterson

Joan is a part time mindfulness coach, who enjoys working with children and seniors. She has been practicing yoga for 20 years, and is an avid reader.

           

Joan is a part time mindfulness coach, who enjoys working with children and seniors. She has been practicing yoga for 20 years, and is an avid reader.