I encourage a morning meditation ritual to all my clients as there are so many truly wonderful benefits to incorporating meditation into you day. Pretty much every great thought leader waxes lyrical on the transformative powers of meditation. My life as improved immensely since making it an essential daily ritual; my head is clearer, I find that I don’t get as stressed as I used to, I am more present and engaged and have even become more creative! For those of you who are still a bit skeptical about the truly magical powers of sitting down alone with your breathing for a couple of minutes a day, here are six compelling reasons to start meditating today:
1. Meditation reduces both depression and anxiety.
One of the first things I encourage all my clients to commit to is daily meditation, for specifically this reason. It makes sense that if you were feeling anxious that an activity focused on clearing your mind of stress and slowing down would have a positive effect, and this is exactly what a meta-analysis of dozens of studies into the benefits of meditation found. The 2014 study reviewed a wealth of scientific research into the effects of meditation and found that the practice improved anxiety and depression levels within 8 weeks on average. Ref: Goyal M, et al. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3)
2. It improves your concentration and makes you smarter!
A 2010 study of meditation found that as few as four (yes, four!) 20-minute meditation sessions can have a positive impact on your working memory, visuo-spatial processing and verbal fluency. That’s just 80 minutes of meditation over a four-day period before the positive effects begin to be felt. Ref: Zeidan, F., et al. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition (2010).
3. Meditation actually makes you healthier.
The effects that meditation have on our mental well-being really should be reason enough to begin carving out a small amount of time every morning to practice. Making this a daily ritual can also improve your physical health. A 2003 study found that meditation improved the immune system and helped fight off illnesses such as the flu, whilst a 2008 study demonstrated that meditation reduced stress-induced immune problems. Ref: Davidson, Richard J. et al, Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation, Psychosomatic Medicine: July 2003 – Volume 65 – Issue 4 – p 564–570 Pace, Thaddeus W.W. et al. “Effect of Compassion Meditation on Neuroendocrine, Innate Immune and Behavioral Responses to Psychosocial Stress.” Psychoneuroendocrinology 34.1 (2009): 87–98.
4. Meditation makes your more productive.
If you struggle to focus when you are overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done and if find yourself switching between things without making any progress then meditation helps with this too. People who practice regular meditation tend to switch tasks less often and have better focus, as well has having better memory for tasks they have completed. Levy, D. M. et al., (2011). Initial results from a study of the effects of meditation on multitasking performance. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – Proceedings.
5. Meditation makes you realise what’s important.
There is a wisdom that one develops and nurtures through meditation. A 2009 paper coauthored by researchers at UCLA School of Medicine and the University of Jena in Germany found that meditators had ‘significantly larger’ volumes in their orbito-frontal cortex (the home of gray matter) and the right hippocampus. These areas of the brain are associated with emotional regulation and response control, meaning that the more developed they are the better equipped we find ourselves to handle the vicissitudes of life and what it throws at us. (Ref: Luders, Eileen et al. “The Underlying Anatomical Correlates of Long-Term Meditation: Larger Hippocampal and Frontal Volumes of Gray Matter.” NeuroImage 45.3 (2009): 672–678.)
6. Finally, (and my personal favourite) meditation helps you to love your body.
A 2014 study showed that as little as 3-weeks of meditation can significantly reduce body dissatisfaction by focusing on self-compassion. The reduction in body shame had a huge impact on the participants’ self-worth and body appreciation, and most impressively this change lasted well after the meditation programme finished. So meditate and realise, you can love and appreciate your body now for the beautiful thing that it is, Ref: Albertson, E.R., Neff, K.D. & Dill-Shackleford, K.E. Self-Compassion and Body Dissatisfaction in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Meditation Intervention, Mindfulness (2015)
These are just some of the benefits of meditation and I hope they have enlightened and motivated you to make meditation a wonderful addition to your daily rituals.
If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you contact me here.