How the Science of Meditation Can Improve Your Life
The benefits gained through meditation are surprisingly large in number. From an increase in creativity to improved attention, meditation can go a long way in helping a person feel better about his or herself, especially on a spiritual basis.
The question a lot of people find themselves asking is 'how can focusing on a single object for an extended period of time - essentially doing nothing - produce so many benefits?' Fortunately, scientists and researchers have studied meditation, and these are the answers they have come up with.
There are literally hundreds of forms of meditation, however, in regards to the meditation science that will be discussed below, the two types of meditation that bring about the most scientific evidence are focused attention and mindfulness meditation.
It is through both of these forms of meditation that a participant focuses on a single thought, usually the present moment, all the while being extremely mindful of the his or her breathing. If at any point a stray thought were to enter the person's mind, it is imperative to push the thought aside and refocus on the present.
Changes In the Brain
As technology advances on a daily basis, scientists are being provided with new ways to look inside the human brain, and the same rings true for when humans are practicing meditation. fMRIs, along with other types of brain scanning technologies, are allowing scientists to get an inside view of what takes place when a person meditates. The findings are enormous, and include the following:
Benefits for Cancer Patients
A study published in 2012 in the Psychosomatic Medicine magazine focused its attention on those suffering from cancer. 90 cancer patients were taught how to perform mindful meditation. Within seven weeks, these patients were already "significantly less depressed, anxious, angry and confused than the control group, which hadn't practiced meditation." Many of them also testified to having increased levels of energy as well as a reduced number of both gastrointestinal and heart issues.
Improves Anti-Social Tendencies
Many people view meditation as a practice that gets carried out in the privacy of one's home, and although it can, what these people fail to realize is that it can also be carried out in group settings. In fact, scientific evidence shows that it can boost participants' social life by increasing their social connections, enhancing emotional intelligence, making them more compassionate and even helping them to feel less lonely.
Increases Rates of Productivity
Scientific evidence has also shown that by sitting down and doing nothing - meditating - participants actually increase their rates of productivity in other areas of their lives. How is this? The science of meditation states that it helps to:
For those who are looking for a way to strengthen self-control, such as control against giving into addictions, meditation can be of the utmost value. In fact, scientific research has shown that it can help a person regulate their emotions as well as improve one's ability to introspect.
Relaxing Your Spirit
Meditation goes beyond the realm of science and enters into people's spiritual lives by helping them to relax their spirits. According to the EOC Institute, it "forms a connection to [a person's] spirit and to the world around by silencing the mind and removing the obstacles to self-discovery."
Enhances the Ability to Listen to God
The EOC Institute also states that meditation is the best way to listen to God. It even claims that the practice is more effective than prayer. The three reasons behind this claim are:
Heartstreaming Connects a Person Closer to God
The HeartsCenter says that another form of meditation - heartstreaming - takes place when a person puts his or attention solely on God. As a result, "This focused attention creates a stream of contact with the divine, giving clarity of mind and heart, peace and balance." This type of meditation helps people identify their purpose and mission for being put here on earth.
Whether a person wants to take part in meditation for physical, emotional, spiritual purposes or a combination of the three, studies have shown that 20 minutes a day is all that is required to achieve such results. Other scientific studies have concluded that in as little 10 consecutive days of performing meditation, participants will "experience significant improvements in mindfulness and contemplative thoughts, the alleviation of depressive symptoms, and boosts to working memory and sustained attention."
All in all, it's clear to see that meditation most definitely has its benefits and that scientific evidence provides proof.
Related Article: How Group Meditation Changes the World