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How meditation benefits your health


The extensive science-backed benefits of regular meditation.

Plenty of studies have found numerous and varied meditation benefits, with positive impacts reported in people’s mental, emotional, and physical health. These studies have also found lesser-known benefits of regularly practicing meditation. Read on to know more about the many benefits of meditation that you may experience in your practice with Outa.

How meditation benefits your health

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Many have turned towards meditation to manage stress and anxiety, and ultimately, to cultivate a peace of mind. During the pandemic last year, you may be surprised to know that meditation saw a 2,900% increase globally as people turned to stress-reducing activities to adjust to the new normal.

Plenty of studies have found numerous and varied meditation benefits, with positive impacts reported in people’s mental, emotional, and physical health. These studies have also found lesser-known benefits of regularly practicing meditation. Read on to know more about the many benefits of meditation that you may experience in your practice with Outa.

Meditation benefits for mental health

You may be likely familiar with the positive impacts that regularly meditation has, such as an increase in one’s sense of clarity and calm. Other commonly associated benefits are the reduction in perceived stress, and therefore, an easing of symptoms of depression, distress and anxiety related to the stress.

Beyond those, meditation can also bring lesser-known benefits for the mind. For instance, mindfulness meditation helps to improve your self-esteem and self-awareness. By slowing down and examining your thoughts and feelings without judgement during meditation, you can go deeper in your self-reflections. This helps you to discover your positive attributes and strengthen your positive self-views. In fact, researchers from the Stanford University found that just two months of meditation helped those with social anxiety to increase their positive self-views and reduce their negative self-ruminations.

Long-term meditation also helps to make your brain much younger. The human brain naturally begins to shrink when we are in our 30s or 40s. However, Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist from Harvard Medical School, found that the brain’s grey matter is significantly higher amongst long-term meditators (those who have been practicing for 7 to 9 years) than those who have not meditated. Specifically, the long-term meditators had more grey matter (responsible for controlling muscular and sensory activity), and thicker cortical thickness (responsible for learning and memory). Who knew meditation can give you the brain of a 25-year-old?

Meditation benefits for emotional health

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Aside from helping you to better cope with heightened emotions as they arise, regular meditation benefits you by physically altering our brain’s emotional processing in the first place.

The amygdala is a small section in our brain that plays a prominent role in this emotional processing and attention, especially on strong emotions such as fear and pleasure. Here, we give our emotions meaning, as well as remember and associate them with past responses (emotional memories). This also means that the amygdala is responsible for triggering our flight or fight response when we feel heightened emotions like anxiety, aggression, and anger. Meditation can help to shrink the size of the amygdala, which is correlated to stress levels.

Research has also confirmed that meditation builds your resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover psychologically from stressful and traumatic events both big and small, stemming from a state of mindfulness. You can build this mindfulness state by practicing meditation regularly. Eventually, you will be equipped with the tools to pause and observe your emotions when they come. This makes you less likely to feel overwhelmed or emotionally shut down when faced with adversity. Also, it helps you to stop wallowing in the setback and increases the likelihood that you will try again. What’s more, researchers found that mindfulness-based interventions led to reductions in occupational stress and burnout amongst stressful careers such as doctors, teachers, and military personnel.

Meditation benefits for physical health

Our bodies are well-equipped to handle stress in small doses. But when that stress becomes chronic, it can take a serious toll on your body.

When we feel stressed, our heart rate rises, and the sympathetic system is activated to release natural stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (i.e., adrenaline) to cope. Too much stress hormones because of chronic stress, however, will negatively affect our body. The constantly elevated stress levels will lead to an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar levels thus increasing the risk of hypertension, stroke, or heart attack. Our immunity, energy levels and sleep will be disrupted too.

On the other hand, when the mind and body are relaxed, our parasympathetic system is stimulated which tells the body to stop releasing stress hormones. Many meditation practitioners have learned to effectively manage their stress and condition their body to relax under demand. Research has found that people who went through a three-months meditation training had lower levels of cortisol after the training. Meditation helps you to strengthen your focus on the present, rather than worry about the past or the future. The less stressed you feel, the less stress hormones will be released in your body.

Not only that, meditation benefits those with insomnia. Meditation helps you to redirect away from racing thoughts, which is often one of the underlying reasons of insomnia. Studies have found that those who meditated regularly enjoyed better quality and longer sleep than non-meditators, perhaps due to the ability to calm our hyperactive minds and relax our body. More interestingly, a Dutch study found that practicing meditation a day for just two weeks had led to noticeable results in enhancing the quality and duration of sleep.

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental, emotional, and physical health. No matter what you are going through, setting aside some time to meditate is an important way to get comfortable with the practice and build up the various meditation benefits. Even just a few minutes a day on Outa can go a long way to seeing overall significant and long-lasting improvements in your well-being.

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