Benefits Of Meditation – How And Why It Is Good For You

The benefits of meditation cross the full spectrum, in short it is something which covers your health and wellbeing in a truly holistic way. Whilst many people practice in order to achieve stress relief and a greater degree of peace within their lives, there are far deeper effects that it has, especially when compounded over time and with regular practice.

Whilst for a long period of time the general consensus of many, and certainly from the medical community, was that there was little benefit, the trend has shifted into one of huge support and acknowledgement of what meditating can actually do for you. This is largely in thanks to clinical studies that have been undertaken and the contrasting results they have yielded.

Whilst the effects that will concern many are over the various levels of health it can aid and improve, there are also benefits for particular groups of people such as students and those working in the creative field. Those particular benefits will be covered further on.

What Types Of Benefits Are There?

Improved Psychological Wellbeing

Improved Physical Wellbeing

Improved Spiritual Wellbeing

Improves Learning and Study

Improves Workplace Environment and Effectiveness

These first three areas are the mind-body-spirit that are often mentioned, and all have been credited by various sources as gaining positive influence from meditative practice, even from just small amounts of it.

Psychological Benefits

These are perhaps the strongest reason for many to take up a meditative practice. The benefits of meditating on the psychological level are vast and have been widely noted to aid with the following things amongst others:

Anxiety Relief
Depression Relief
Pain Relief
Stress Relief
Overcoming Insomnia
Improving Self Esteem

Improving Self Love
Improving Concentration
Improving Memory
Peace Of Mind
Relaxation

The core of meditation brings you to a point where you feel increasingly comfortable with yourself and within yourself. This is in part what leads to the characteristic shifts that are noted, there is more that happens in addition to this though. Another aspect is your interaction with stress. Meditating does indeed get used as an aid to stress relief on a fundamental level, with the depth of relaxation attained generating a mechanism for release and from there a shift to ease and a neutral state where flow can become smooth again.

Stress is a major factor in the reduction of functionality within the body and mind. Through its release you come back to a point where you are able to achieve more of your potential. When you are at ease you feel greater joy and your mind works with greater ease, all of which flows to generate other positive effects.

Observing the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Meditation on Anxiety and Depression in Chronic Pain Patients.

"Forty-seven patients (47) completed the Mindfulness Meditation Training program. Over the year-long observation, patients demonstrated noticeable improvement in depression, anxiety, pain, and global impression of change."
Rod K - McMaster University, Ontario, Canada
Source At NIH

When meditating your mind alters into sets of brainwave patterns which have a tendency to be different from most peoples waking states. Commonly meditators slip into Alpha with relative ease, a state where feelings of positivity increase and relaxation begins. With experience, or help from brainwave entrainment, it is possible to move into the deeper range of Theta which is where deeper levels of stress relief occur and vision regarding yourself within your own world can alter in a positive way. This latter point, and the levels of practice that comes with it is one of the things that patients involved in the above quoted year long study would have benefited from, the greater depth due to the amount of practice creating cumulative benefit.

This is in many ways just the tip of the iceberg. Beginners often note of the changes they experience, and medical studies have also backed up the value of even short introductory courses on mental and emotional states of participants. Whilst these short term quick gains are of course good, the greater benefits come from regular practice and deepen with time and cumulative effect. There is a lot more to discover regarding the in-depth psychological benefits of meditation here.

Mindfulness Meditation-Based Pain Relief Employs Different Neural Mechanisms Than Placebo and Sham Mindfulness Meditation-Induced Analgesia.

"Here, we provide novel evidence demonstrating that mindfulness meditation produces greater pain relief and employs distinct neural mechanisms than placebo cream and sham mindfulness meditation. Specifically, mindfulness meditation-induced pain relief activated higher-order brain regions, including the orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. In contrast, placebo analgesia was associated with decreased pain-related brain activation. These findings demonstrate that mindfulness meditation reduces pain through unique mechanisms and may foster greater acceptance of meditation as an adjunct pain therapy."
Zeidan F, Emerson NM, Farris SR, Ray JN, Jung Y, McHaffie JG, Coghill RC
© 2015 the authors
J Neurosci. 2015 Nov 18;35(46):15307-25. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2542-15.2015.

Physical Benefits

There are two major areas where meditative practice can bring aid on this level:

Healing
Weight Loss

The first of these things is of course a very wide area, and covers all types of healing. Please do note that if you suffer any kind of traumatic injury seeking professional medical attention is your first priority.

That said once you have had medical attention you can benefit from meditative sessions through improvements in healing rate and also potentially through pain relief too, for the later point there are a variety of ways and techniques that can bring you benefit and improved comfort levels.

Contemplative self healing in women breast cancer survivors: a pilot study in underserved minority women shows improvement in quality of life and reduced stress

"Conclusion: Persons receiving a 20-session contemplative self healing intervention showed improved quality of life, with a clinically and statistically significant increase in the FACT-G. In addition, this population showed a significant reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms assessed by the Impact of Events Scale."
Mary E Charlson, Joseph Loizzo, Alyson Moadel, Miles Neale, Chayim Newman4, Erin Olivo, Emily Wolf and Janey C Peterson
Source Article On BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine

Within the study conducted FACT-G (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy: General) was just one of the measurement instruments used with these others in addition:

FACT-B (For patients with Breast cancer)
FACIT-Spirituality (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Spiritual Well-Being)
ECOG (Developed by: Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group)
The Impact of Events Scale

The results as measured with each of these instruments indicated improvements across the spectrum as a result of the training sessions and development of meditative practice by the participants within the study with further note stating “Patients who attended more sessions and conducted more home practice had greater improvements in quality of life”, which is a strong indicator of the value of meditation within a healing program.

In order to achieve these results within the program the participants attended a course of eight 90 minute group sessions held on a weekly basis, something which would have created a strong foundation for their meditative skills in an easy and enjoyable way. Within the sessions guidance was given aiding participants with healing imagery, awareness of their breath, plus deep breathing practice, with the stated reasoning being to aid in enhancing their control responses, i.e. dealing with conditions and factors as they occur and development of a self change practice.

Within this context self change is highly important as cultivation of a new healthy self image along with fresh positive living habits provides strong mental and emotional power for achieving and maintaining good health. This was further backed up by a “cognitive-affective-behavioral learning program” conducted over 12 sessions in order to empower and install positive health habits on an even deeper level.

This is just evidence from one research study that indicates the deep value provided on a healing level to those who develop a meditative practice. The use of simple meditation techniques along with positive health habits and self conditioning can produce amazing results.

From personal experience spanning several sessions of reconstructive surgery after a road traffic accident in Africa I can personally testify the value of these types of techniques. My control measure on this was that I only encountered meditation, energy healing and NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) between the second and third sets of surgery. My healing rate has always been good, though having practised meditation and cultivated various healing techniques and breathing techniques prior to the third set of operations my healing and pain management abilities shifted significantly. To the point where I ceased to have any requirement for pain management medication.

The level to which you take this is your choice, what I have stated about my experience was done through my own efforts and my decision regarding medication was my own.

Going Beyond Physical And Psychological Healing

There is far more in addition to the above that can bring benefit to your life. Granted peace of mind and psychological well-being are strong compelling factors for all of us, there is more though. One significant group within society that gains special benefit is students.

Benefits Of Meditation For Students

Perhaps the most obvious things that create benefit for students are the improvements that meditating yields in terms of enhancing concentration and memory, thereby aiding students to attain better results for the same amount of effort. Whilst these factors are much talked about be long term meditators they are actually proven too.

CWAE

Since 2007 the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) has been pioneering meditative practice in schools in the San Francisco area with its Quiet Time program. Serving more than 2000 students and 400 teachers and administrators via the program, and correlating school data through a spectrum of aspects to demonstrate the proof of value.

There are various notable changes that schools within the program have achieved, these include significant increases in composite STAR test scores and an almost 4 fold increase in GPA scores compared to non-Quiet Time program schools. Though this is just a small indication of the value of meditation in schools.

In other aspects the reduction of fights, bullying and discipline issues within schools have been demonstrated through other programs. The mindfulness based Inner Explorer program yielding a quoted reduction of behavioural problems from an average of 2.6 per day in the first week down to less than 1 issue pre week in the eight week. Something which is contrasted by the non-participating classrooms that experienced a rise from 2 issues per day to 2.3 in the same time frame. Other reported factors being test score improvements in the 10% to 30% range, and a decrease in teacher stress of 43% something which helps to generate a more positive environment for all.

These two programmes cover 2 different styles of meditating, mindfulness which is well known and widely practised in many countries and a the Quiet Time program variant which was developed by the CWAE organisation. Though they are using different styles they are achieving very similar results, to major corroboration of interest to students will likely be the increase in grades and test scores, that said the additional benefits in terms of improving environmental factors will be of keen interest too.

The increase in grades and tests can be attributed to the enhanced ability to concentrate effectively and improvements in terms of memory and recall function that meditating yields. As such even if you chose to practice a different style, as long as you were practising effectively and regularly, taking the time to be at peace within yourself and focus your mind you would be able to enhance your abilities in these areas too.

This is just a small amount of what learning to meditate and then practising on a regular basis can do for students, there is far more benefit to meditating for students in addition to the above.

Benefits To Workplace Environment And Productivity

As with the benefits to students there are huge benefits here in terms of the improvement to both concentration and memory. With these two things enhanced there are good gains in terms of productivity for a start. Though there are many more beyond this. The stress relief factor attained through even as little as 10 minutes also brings gains in terms of productivity, and they come in a number of forms.

When you, or your employees, are less stressed and feeling at ease the ability to focus effectively is higher for a start. In addition to this and perhaps more valuable is the point that when people are feeling more at ease the environment they create around themselves is more positive and friendly. As such the work environment becomes more pleasant, something which has a number of benefits.

When people are happy where they work they tend to do more and achieve more, they also have a tendency towards being more loyal to the organisation they are working for, working to create greater success for it, taking greater pride in their work and also staying with the organisation for a  longer period of time during their career.

As Shawn Achor an advocate of positive psychology said in his famous TEDTalk If we can find a way of being happy in the present then our brains work even more successfully as we are able to work faster, harder and more intelligently”.

This was in follow up to the point he had been making where he stated that “Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise, in fact what we found is that every single business outcome improves.” expanding upon this then stated that “Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed.

So in tests it has been shown that people are 31% more productive when they are happy and positive. Something which can transform both lives as well as organisations and businesses, with meditative practice, which Shawn recommends, forming a very easy way to aid in the achievement of this amazing state of being. This is something backed up by Richard J. Davidson who is a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin - Madison Waisman Center. He works on research in the field of human emotions and disorders with focus on “methods to promote human flourishing including meditation and related contemplative practices” alongside this he has been noted as recommending mindfulness meditation “for use in the accurate identification and management of emotions”.

So through the use of mindfulness meditation we can become better able to manage our emotions, something which is a strong aid to helping us in being happier and more positive. All of which can lead us to being more productive in everything we do. Plus importantly doing it all in a state of happiness and positivity. Mindfulness is just one way of achieving this of course, there are other meditative techniques that can produce great results, one of the chief drivers here being that you function best when doing something you enjoy or love. So choosing a technique which is good for you is ideal really. There is of course far more than this in terms of how meditation benefits the workplace, positivity and happiness does form a good start though.

For those looking to achieve big changes in their results at work and within business, as well as life in general it is well worth considering coaching. Whilst meditation provides excellent results it can take time to gain the best of them. Working with a highly trained coach can bring mental and emotional shifts that can accelerate this and thus take you to a far greater point of clarity, perspective and ability. It is worth seeing what coaching can offer you and combining its results with meditative practice if this sounds good.

Spiritual Benefits of Meditation

The spiritual benefits come by extension of every other benefit the practice has, conversely you could also say that all other benefits come by extension of the spiritual expansion and development gained from meditating. These benefits along with all others come hand in hand, they are seemingly inseparable, and the harmonious relationship they have, developing in unison is very special.

As mentioned on the in depth page on psychological benefits as you spend more and more time meditating you develop an ever deeper rapport with yourself. It is a cumulative effect. The more you travel inward, the more you release from the mental and emotional chatter, flowing through your mind and your soul, the more you discover about yourself. You adapt and develop yourself, something which occurs in-line with greater comfort and understanding of yourself.

As you let go of worldly concerns, the thoughts of what others think of you and the negative perceptions that you have of yourself however small, you move to a point of freedom. It is this freedom on a spiritual level which is largely what brings the experience of joyful living. The point at which concerns can disappear, with contentment, peace and happiness flowing in to your life in great amounts.

Can it bring you to a point of knowing the reason for life and creation? It is possible, you can only know when you have reached the end of your journey.

Can you achieve a deep understanding of yourself and your purpose in this life? Absolutely. Spend time within, clearing away distractions that cloud your clarity of who you really are such as low self-esteem and anxiety and you will achieve ever deeper rapport that enables you know yourself on an ever fuller basis.

The deeper you get to know yourself, the more you release yourself from the mundane and flow free from negativity and chatter and the deeper you will come to understand yourself, and by extension the world and universe within which you live. Principles which flow strongly when you do chakra development work, releasing off from direct vision of the world and taking an energetic approach to working with the universe on a very different level through the practice of chakra meditation.

Regardless of your spiritual or religious disposition this is an opportunity open to all. Something of note is that those of a deeply spiritual nature, be they monks, nuns, priests or priestesses of whatever denomination, meditate to bring greater calm and peace into their lives and in order to aid them in attaining deeper understanding of the universe and its workings.

Getting The Best For Yourself From The Various Benefits Of Meditation

Each of us is in many ways unique. We all have our own reasons for doing things in life, we all have differing things which inspire and drive us towards what we seek in terms of fulfilment. Though through all that there are certain things which run as one and that are common to all.

Whomever you are and whatever path you are on, whatever you are seeking in life, one the best things you can do in order to maximised the possible gains for you in terms of the benefits of meditation is to practice on a regular basis. Even 10 minutes a day will aid you to develop a meditative practice that brings you a variety of beneficial and expansive results. Use elements of the various resources such as meditation videos and guidance for beginners here on SurgingLife if you need them, feel free to follow your own path if you wish to. However you feel is right for you is good. Enjoy, expand and free yourself such that meditating can bring you greater experiences of joyful living on a daily basis.

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