The month of May brings with it a special kind of awareness towards our holistic health and wellness through the celebration of the world meditation month, with May 31st as the annual world meditation day.
Meditation has long been a major activity promoting overall wellness. It is an ancient wellness tradition focusing primarily on training awareness, attention, and compassion. Meditation is gaining popularity such that research is done regarding its benefits on mental health. Over the years, studies have shown that meditation reduces stress and anxiety, improves focus and concentration, and increases feelings of relaxation and serenity.
The contribution of meditation in one’s journey towards holistic health and wellness is undeniable. In fact, meditation affects the brain directly in different ways. The once ancient practice is now backed up with studies confirmed with EEG or fMRI (Walton, 2015).
What are some of the benefits of meditation?
It helps delay the brain’s aging process.
Studies have confirmed that long-term meditators have less brain volume loss compared to non-meditators. The human brain usually begins deteriorating during the first two decades of life, with further deterioration linked with increasing age. Using the amount of the brain’s gray matter as predictive of brain aging, these studies have shown that there is less age-related gray matter degeneration in long-term meditators.
It reduces activity inside the brain’s default mode network (DMN), or the “me” center.
The DMN is deemed responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts, and thus linked to feelings of being less happy, ruminating, and worrying. Studies have shown that meditating has a quieting effect on the DMN, enabling long-term meditators to know how to snap out of a bad experience or memory.
It reduces symptoms of depression.
Meditation is a form of brain training, and thus people who meditate regularly are expected to have a higher level of self-awareness that those who do not meditate. In effect, a study initially found out that the effect of meditation on depression is at par with the effect of antidepressant medications on depression. Though meditation is not a single treatment that can cure depression, meditation can be instrumental as part of the therapy in patients with depression.
It leads to volume changes inside the brain.
Studies have found out that meditation has the ability to enhance cortical thickness in the hippocampus and in certain areas of the brain that are responsible for emotion control. This means that on top of improved mood and wellbeing, meditators are also a step ahead in terms of learning and memory.
It improves concentration and attention.
Interestingly, meditation has been shown to improve attention and concentration. A study showed that meditation helped improve focus, reasoning, memory capacity and overall graduate record examination performance.
It reduces anxiety.
Most people go into meditation practices to reduce stress. Meditation lessens stress levels, hence reducing anxiety. In fact, one study noted that eight weeks of mindfulness meditation helped lessen symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder.
Meditation has a lot of other advantages which have interested researchers as well. It has positive effects on chronic pain, attention span, addiction, altruistic behavior, and even sleep.
This meditation month, you can start exploring the benefits of meditation through enrolling in meditation programs. There are many types of meditation, and you can select based on your preference. You can try this out at home, however if your environment is not conducive for meditation, you can always try enrolling in a class. Having a supportive community is vital in helping you achieve success in your endeavor.
Get to know a better you through meditation this World Meditation Month! Improve your quality of life and experience the benefits of holistic wellness!