I guess you’re like most people.
You’ve had periods in your life where life has seemed out of control. Where nothing you do seems to go right. Where events seem destined to tarnish your life.
Maybe the kids have ADHD or are involved in substance abuse. Maybe you’ve got cancer, AIDs or Alzheimer’s. Maybe the doctor has told of heart risk, stroke danger, or the damage of excessive worry. Maybe you can’t sleep well at night.
You’re not alone.
But can I tell you something?
It doesn’t have to be that way. At least for me and millions of others we’ve found something that works for us. Mindfulness Meditation.
Let me explain:
The American Heart Association has shown that an 8-week Mindfulness course cuts students risk of heart disease, stroke and death by nearly in half. The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness shows students with depression are nearly 50% less likely to become depressed again. Another study by University of Surrey showed over 25% reduction in tiredness and a 33% improvement in sleep quality.
In fact there are now over 3,000 studies on the benefits of meditation. Everything from creativity, to mood regulation, to memory, to social connection seems to benefit.
Your feeling sceptical. Right?
But many of the best studies are of university and clinical quality.
The cumulative evidence seems clear. Mindfulness may not cure all the ills of the world but it can significantly help most ills known to modern man.
Here’s 23 clinical proven benefits that Mindfulness Meditation can bring:
Several studies show Mindfulness boosts sexual well-being. After as little as 8 weeks of a Mindfulness Meditation Course students reported feeling more arousal. They were also quicker to become aroused.
The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness has shown that a 8-week Mindfulness course reduces depressive relapse by half. Mindfulness is at least as effective as antidepressants. Yet, it has none of the side effects. It is now one of the preferred treatments recommended by the UK health system (see here).
A 2013 study by the University of Oxford found that students who take part in a Mindfulness Course have a 50% reduction in anxiety levels. The same study found a 57% reduction in depression and a 40% reduction in stress.
Sources: Scientific American
Research published in the Journal of Occupational Health and Psychology showed reduced rumination. Rumination is the inability to stop worrying and thinking and is a big cause of insomnia. The study by University of Surrey showed a 20% reduction in rumination and 26% reduction in fatigue. Students also showed a 33% improvement in sleep quality.
A University of California study proved that mindfulness meditation decreases dysfunctional beliefs. During a meditation program students began to recognise their critical thoughts. Moreover, with a little practice they were also able to learn to tune these out.
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to increase compassionate thought. In particularly self-compassion tends to improve over time. But feeling, giving, and receiving compassion toward others also improves. Harvard University researchers have shown that the change in compassion results in major changes to physical, psychological and relational well-being.
The Journal of Alternate and Complementary Medicine documented that meditation reduces stress. Amazingly 2/3rds of high blood pressure sufferers showed decreased risk. Blood pressure dropped dramatically. After 3 months of meditation the results were so conclusive that their medication decreased.
A study showed that high-risk individuals on a meditation class have a 48% reduction in their risk of heart attack, stroke and death. The American Heart Association published the study and it featured in Time Magazine.
Mindfulness meditation increases feelings of social connection. The American Psychological Association believes that Mindful Meditation increases positive well-being. Even small amounts of meditation decrease social isolation. Another study by Carnegie Mellon and UCLA showed similar effects. Participation in a Mindfulness meditation course reduced loneliness in an elderly population.
Harvard Neuroscientists submitted 16 people to a 8-week Mindfulness course. The results of MRI scans at the end showed grey matter increases in certain areas of the brain. The areas that include learning, memory, regulation of emotions, sense of self and having perspective. Several other studies support the fact that Mindfulness increases long-term memory.
The online journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity published interesting research. The study showed that daily meditation reduces the risk of Alzheimer and premature death. The same study found reduced risk of heart disease and depression and a reduced sense of loneliness.
Research from Leiden University in the Netherlands has proven new benefits for Mindfulness. They showed that it has a positive effect on creativity and divergent thinking. Students who practised meditation were more able to generate ideas. This was especially so when faced with new problems.
A study demonstrated that mindfulness meditation increased students ability to control their impulses. They were less subject to hypnosis and less prone to binge eating. The research was undertaken by the University of Sussex. Similar studies appear in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. These show meditation can reduce alcohol and substance abuse.
A Science Direct study showed research that proves Mindfulness meditation training improves visuospatial processing. Working memory and executive functioning were also shown to improve. Amazingly this was shown to be the case after just four Mindfulness sessions.
A study made with 50 adult ADHD patients showed great promise. Mindfulness courses reduced hyperactivity and impulsivity and increased awareness skills. These all contributed to an improvement in inattention symptoms. The study appeared in the Clinical Neuropsychology Journal. The course included guided meditations and the integration of mindfulness into everyday life.
Several studies published in Science Direct, The American Journal of Psychology, The American Psychology Association and many others show that Mindfulness Meditation helps regulate mood. The effect on monitoring the content of experience is significant. Mindfulness helps students recognise the nature of emotional and cognitive processes.
Source: Link Springer
Numerous studies show that mindfulness meditation helps increase confidence. It doesn’t work miracles, but over time regular meditators do feel more confident and more able to deal with difficult situations.
Studies have shown that Mindfulness bolsters the immune system helps fight cold, flu and other diseases. Research at UCLA shows that Mindfulness meditation was affective in slowing HIV/AID patient’s immune system’s decline. This was effective in delaying the progression of their illness.
Several studies show that meditation can reduce the experience of pain. As little as an hour was found to be affective. MRI scans showed pain-related activation in the brain reduced also. The intensity of pain decreased by 40%. The unpleasantness of the pain showed a 57% reduction. These effects were greater than morphine and other pain relieving drugs. These typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 percent.
There are now several mindfulness-based approaches developed specifically for people who have cancer. One is the Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery Program. They have published a number of papers showing major improvements in patients with breast cancer and prostrate cancer. This was for a range of physiological and psychological measures. The studies also included a 1-year follow up. This showed patients had enhanced quality of life, decreased stress symptoms and decreased blood pressure.
Sources: Journal of Behavourial Medicine
Newer studies show Mindfulness Meditation changes the brain. Brain matter decreases in areas associated with stress and anxiety. It grows in areas responsible for processing information, making decisions, and forming memory. These studies conclude that meditation increases mental strength and resilience. And that meditation boosts emotional intelligence.
An Emory University study showed that Mindfulness meditation boosts a person’s emphasizing ability. Several studies show that daily mindfulness meditation improves relationships. Students report improved relationships with their partner, children and colleagues.
The Organisation Mindfulness in Schools (www.mindfulnessinschools.org) presents research for hundreds of benefits for kids. These include reduced anxiety, depression, stress, hostility and conflict with peers. As well as reduced reactivity and substance abuse. The evidence also shows Mindfulness boosts self-care, self-esteem, optimism, positive emotions and feelings of happiness and well being. Students also reported improved sleep, self-awareness and social skills. Cognitive retention and academic performance also improved.
It’s tempting to see a long list of benefits like these as hype.
And you’re not wrong.
A lot of assertions on the web are unproven. But the studies listed here are of clinical and university quality.
Mindfulness is not a miracle cure. Yet the cumulative evidence is clear.
Mindfulness can help with a range of modern ailments.
Often the results are so significant that they beat medication. The global anti-depressant drug industry is worth over 15 billion US dollars, yet in many cases Mindfulness is just as effective.
No wonder it’s now a mainstream practice.
No wonder millions are turning to practice everyday.
No wonder it’s recommended by the UK’s national health system.
Whatever problems you’re dealing with Mindfulness can help you manage them better. By meditating just a few minutes a day you’ll soon be feeling calmer, less anxious and more able to cope. You’ll wake up each day secure in the fact that no matter what life throws at you have all the resources to survive. Right here, right now, right within you.
Matt is a trained and licenced Mindfulness teacher and Stress and Anxiety Reduction Counsellor operating in and around the Peterborough area. After overcoming his own stress and anxiety he's found his purpose teaching others to do the same.
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