Scientific Benefits of Meditation – 76 things you might be missing out on

121 [mashshare]

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We all have heard that “meditation is good for you”. But good in what terms? Is that just reports from people doing it for 10 years, or are there good scientific studies showing specific benefits that I care about?

In this massive article I have summarized several scientific discoveries on the benefits of meditation. Over 100 studies were analyzed (some of which are in themselves analysis of other hundreds of studies), and categorised the findings into 76 benefits (divided into 46 subheadings). You will be surprised in reading some of these.

 

 

At the bottom of this post you will find a button to download a FREE PDF copy.

You will noticed that on many blogs and forums when people answer the question “why should I meditate” or “what are the benefits of meditation”, they do mention a few health benefits, and spiritual benefits, but leave a lot behind; or they often lack scientific evidence backing up what they say (like this one). There are over 3,000 scientific studies on the benefits of meditation, but I have not found any blog that compiles hundreds of researches into an organized article, so I decided to fill in the gap.

These studies were based on different types of meditation, and I have included details, whenever relevant. Some effects, such as increased compassion and social bonding, are more salient as a result of specific meditation techniques (such as loving-kindness, which is a Buddhist meditation). However, my understanding and personal practice is that any kind of authentic meditation will include most of these benefits, in one degree or another. There is also evidence that the practice will be more beneficial for you if you find a technique that you like better.

Check out our post about the different types of meditation.

Some of the studies indicated that meditating even 20 minutes per day for a few weeks was already enough to start experiencing the benefits.

I’m constantly updating this page, so if you find any interesting research not mentioned here, please leave a comment and I`ll include it.

As you see in the footer, my goal with this blog is to bring mindfulness and personal growth to one million humans. That is why I wrote this article, and I will be really grateful if you can leave a comment, and share this in your social media channels.

 

Benefits of Meditation Infographic

 

Benefits of Meditation Infographic

 

[You are welcome to share this infographic on your social media or blog. Permission is not required; but please provide a reference to it’s source.]

 

1. Brain & Moods

 

Mindfulness practices decreases depression

In a study conducted at five middle schools in Belgium, involving about 400 students (13 ~ 20 years old), Professor Filip Raes concludes that “students who follow an in-class mindfulness program report reduced indications of depression, anxiety and stress up to six months later. Moreover, these students were less likely to develop pronounced depression-like symptoms.”
Another study, from the University of California, made with patients with past depression, concluded that mindfulness meditation decreases ruminative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs.
Yet another concludes that mindfulness meditation may be effective to treat depression to a similar degree as antidepressant drug therapy”.
Sources: ScienceDaily, Link Springer, Jama Network

 

Mindfulness meditation helps treat depression in mothers to be

High-risk pregnant women who participated in a ten-week mindfulness yoga training saw significant reductions in depressive symptoms, according to a University of Michigan Health System pilot feasibility study. The mothers-to-be also showed more intense bonding to their babies in the womb. The findings were published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
Source: Medical News Today

 

Meditation practices help regulate mood and anxiety disorders

This is also the conclusion of over 20 randomized controlled studies taken from PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Databases, involving the techniques of Meditation, Meditative Prayer, Yoga, Relaxation Response.
Another research concludes that mindfulness meditation may be effective to treat anxiety to a similar degree as antidepressant drug therapy.
(Somebody please tweet that! The world needs to hear!)
Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Jama Network

 

Meditation reduces stress and anxiety in general

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicates that the practice of “Open Monitoring Meditation” (such as Vipassana), reduces the grey-matter density in areas of the brain related with anxiety and stress. Meditators were more able to “attend moment-to-moment to the stream of stimuli to which they are exposed and less likely to ‘get stuck’ on any one stimulus. ”
“Open Monitoring Meditation” involves non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment-to-moment, primarily as a means to recognize the nature of emotional and cognitive patterns.
There are other studies as well, for which I simply present the link below, to avoid repetition.
Sources: NCBI, Wiley Online Library, The American Journal of Psychiatry, ScienceDirect, American Psychological Association, American Psychosomtic Medicine Journal, Medical News Today

 

Meditation helps reduce symptoms of panic disorder

In a research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 22 patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder or panic disorder were submitted to 3 months meditation and relaxation training. As a result, for 20 of those patients the effects of panic and anxiety had reduced substantially, and the changes were maintained at follow-up.

Source: American Journal of Psychiatry

 

Meditation increases grey matter concentration in the brain

A group of Harvard neuroscientists ran an experiment where 16 people were submitted to an eight-week mindfulness course, using guided meditations and integration of mindfulness into everyday activities. The results were reported by Sara Lazar, PhD. At the end of it, MRI scans show that the grey matter concentration increases in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, regulating emotions, sense of self, and having perspective.
Other studies also show a larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of grey matter for long-term meditators.

Sources: Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging, ScienceDirect

What meditation does to your brain

 

Meditation acutely improves psychomotor vigilance, and may decrease sleep need

On a research conducted by the University of Kentucky, participants were tested on four different conditions: Control (C), Nap (N), Meditation (M) and Sleep Deprivation plus Meditation. Non-meditators, novice meditators and experienced meditators were part of the experiment. The results suggest that:

Meditation provides at least a short-term performance improvement even in novice meditators. In long term meditators, multiple hours spent in meditation are associated with a significant decrease in total sleep time when compared with age and sex matched controls who did not meditate. Whether meditation can actually replace a portion of sleep or pay-off sleep debt is under further investigation.

Sources: NCBI, DoctorsOnTM, Time Magazine

 

Long-term meditation enhances the ability to generate gamma waves in the brain

In a study with Tibetan Buddhist monks, conducted by neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, it was found that novice meditators “showed a slight increase in gamma activity, but most monks showed extremely large increases of a sort that has never been reported before in the neuroscience literature”.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

 

Meditation helps reduce alcohol and substance abuse

Three studies made with Vipassana meditation in incarcerated populations suggested that it can help reduce alcohol and substance abuse.

Source: Journal Of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

 

2. Mind & Performance

 

Meditation improves your focus, attention, and ability to work under stress

A study led by Katherine MacLean of the University of California suggested that during and after meditation training, subjects were more skilled at keeping focus, especially on repetitive and boring tasks.
Another study demonstrated that even with only 20 minutes a day of practice, students were able to improve their performance on tests of cognitive skill, in some cases doing 10 times better than the group that did not meditate. They also performed better on information-processing tasks that were designed to induce deadline stress.
In fact, there is evidence that meditators had thicker prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula, and also to the effect that meditation might offset the loss of cognitive ability with old age.

Sources: Time Magazine, NCBI, Link Springer

 

Meditation improves information processing and decision-making

Eileen Luders, an assistant professor at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues, have found that long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (“folding” of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. Scientists suspect that gyrification is responsible for making the brain better at processing information, making decisions, forming memories and improving attention.
Source: UCLA Newsroom

 

Meditation gives you mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence

PhD psychotherapist Dr. Ron Alexander reports in his book Wise Mind, Open Mind that the process of controlling the mind, through meditation, increases mental strength, resilience, and emotional intelligence.
Source: Dr. Ron Alexander

 

Meditation makes you stronger against pain

A research group from the University of Montreal exposed 13 Zen masters and 13 comparable non-practitioners to equal degrees of painful heat while measuring their brain activity in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. What they discovered is that the Zen meditation (called zazen) practitioners reported less pain. Actually, they reported less pain than their neurological output from the fMRI indicated. So, even though their brain may be receiving the same amount of pain input, in their mind’s there is actually less pain.
Sources: Time Magazine, NCBI, David Lynch Foundation

 

meditation reduces pain

 

Meditation relieves pain better than morphine

In an experiment conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, 15 healthy volunteers, who were new to meditation, attended four 20-minute classes to learn meditation, focusing on the breath. Both before and after meditation training, study participants’ brain activity was examined using ASL MRI, while pain was inflicted in them by using heat.
Fadel Zeidan, Ph.D., lead author of the study, explains that

This is the first study to show that only a little over an hour of meditation training can dramatically reduce both the experience of pain and pain-related brain activation. (…) We found a big effect – about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness. Meditation produced a greater reduction in pain than even morphine or other pain-relieving drugs, which typically reduce pain ratings by about 25 percent.”

Source: Huffington Post

 

Meditation helps manage ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

In a study made with 50 adult ADHD patients, the group that was submitted to MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) demonstrated reduced hyperactivity, reduced impulsivity and increased “act-with-awareness” skill, contributing to an overall improvement in inattention symptoms.
Sources: Clinical Neurophysiology Journal, DoctorsOnTM

 

Meditation increases the ability to keep focus in spite of distractions

A study from Emory University, Atlanta, demonstrated that participants with more meditation experience exhibit increased connectivity within the brain networks controlling attention. These neural relationships may be involved in the development of cognitive skills, such as maintaining attention and disengaging from distraction. Moreover, the benefits of the practice were observed also in normal state of consciousness during the day, which speaks to the transference of cognitive abilities “off the cushion” into daily life.
The meditation practice examined was focusing the attention on the breath.
Source: Frontiers Journal

 

Meditation improves learning, memory and self-awareness

Long-term practice of meditation increases grey-matter density in the areas of the brain associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Source: NCBI

 

Mindfulness meditation improves rapid memory recall

According to Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Centre, “Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall”.
Source: PsychCentral

 

Meditation improves your mood and psychological well-being

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University, UK, found that when participants with issues of stress and low mood underwent meditation training, they experienced improvements in psychological well-being.
Source: Link Springer

 

Meditation prevents you from falling in the trap of multitasking too often

Multitasking is not only a dangerous productivity myth, but it’s also a source of stress. “Changing gears” between activities is costly for the brain, and induces feelings of distraction and dissatisfaction from the work being done.
In a research conducted by the University of Washington and University of Arizona, Human Resource personnel were given 8 weeks of training in either mindfulness meditation or body relaxation techniques, and were given a stressful multitasking test both before and after training. The group of staff that had practiced meditation reported lower levels of stress and showed better memory for the tasks they had performed; they also switched tasks less often and remained focused on tasks longer.
Source: ACM Digital Library

 

Meditation helps us allocate limited brain resources

When the brain is presented two targets to pay attention to, and they right after one another (half a second difference), the second one is often not seen. This is called “attentional-blink”.
In an experiment conducted by the University of California, a stream of random letters was shown in a computer screen, in rapid succession. In each session, one or two numbers or blank screens would appear in the middle, and participants were later asked, immediately after the stream ended, to type the numbers they saw. They were also asked whether they thought a blank screen was shown or not.
Subjects that had undergone 3 months of intense Vipassana Meditation were found to have a better control over the distribution of attention and perception resources. They showed less allocation of brain-resource for each letter shown, which resulted in reduction in “attentional-blink” size.
Source: PLOS Biology

 

Meditation improves visuospatial processing and working memory

Research has shown that even after only four sessions of mindfulness meditation training, participants had significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.
Source: ScienceDirect

 

Meditation prepares you to deal with stressful events

A study from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, conducted with 32 adults that had never practiced meditation before, showed that if meditation is practiced before a stressful event, the adverse effects of stress were lessened.
Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

 

Mindfulness meditation fosters creativity

A research from Leiden University (Netherlands) demonstrates that the practice of “open monitoring” meditation (non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment-to-moment) has positive effects in creativity and divergent thinking. Participants who had followed the practice performed better in a task where they were asked to creatively come up with new ideas.
Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

benefits of meditation - creativity

 

3. Body & Health

 

Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke

More people die of heart diseases in the world than any other illness.
In a study published in late 2012, a group of over 200 high-risk individuals was asked to either take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or take a class on Transcendental Meditation. During the next 5 years researchers accompanying the participants found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
They noted that meditation “significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors.”
There are also other researches pointing out similar conclusions, about related health conditions.
Sources: Time Magazine, American Heart Association, HealthCentral

 

Meditation affects genes that control stress and immunity

A study from Harvard Medical School demonstrates that, after practicing yoga and meditation, the individuals had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption and resiliency. This improvement develops a higher immunity in the system and resilience to stress.
Sources: Bloomberg, NCBI, American Psychosomatic Medicine Journal, Journal of International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology

 

Meditation reduces blood pressure

Clinical research has demonstrated that the practice of Zen Meditation (also known as “Zazen”) reduces stress and high blood pressure.
Another experiment, this time with a technique called “relaxation response”, yielded similar results, with 2/3 of high blood pressure patients showing significant drops in blood pressure after 3 months of meditation, and, consequently, less need for medication. This is because relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide, which opens up your blood vessels.

Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, NPR News

 

Mindfulness training decreases inflammatory disorders

A study conducted in France and Spain at the UW-Madison Waisman Centre indicates that the practice of mindfulness meditation produces a range of genetic and molecular effects on the participants. More specifically, it was noted reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.
Source: University of Winsconsin Madison, & HealthCentral & Medical News Today

 

Mindfulness meditation decreases cellular-level inflammation

In the three studies below, the group that undertook mindfulness training had better results at preventing cellular level inflammation than the control groups.
Sources: ScienceDirect (1), ScienceDirect (2), ScienceDirect (3)

 

Mindfulness practice helps prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease

In a research conducted by neuroscientists of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, two groups of people were exposed to different methods of stress control. One of them received mindfulness training, while the other received nutritional education, exercise and music therapy. The study concluded that mindfulness techniques were more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.
Source: Medical News Today

 

Meditation and meditative prayer help treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms

This is the conclusion of over 20 randomized control studies taken from PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane Databases, involving the techniques of Meditation, Meditative Prayer, Yoga, Relaxation Response.
Source: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

yoga and mindfulness reduce stress

Mindfulness meditation reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and premature death

Results from recent research, published online in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, states that just 30 minutes of meditation a day not only reduces the sense of loneliness, but also reduces the risk of heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s and premature death.
Source: HealthCentral

 

Mindfulness training is helpful for patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia

In a study published in PubMed, 11 participants that suffered from Fibromyalgia underwent an 8-week mindfulness training. As a result, the researchers found significant improvement in the overall health status of the participants and in symptoms of stiffness, anxiety, and depression. Significant improvements were also seen in the reported number of days “felt good” and number of days “missed work” because of Fibromyalgia.
Source: NCBI (1), NCBI (2), Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics Journal

 

Meditation helps manage the heart rate and respiratory rate

In a study published by the Korean Association of Genuine Traditional Medicine, practitioners of “Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique” showed a significant decrease in heart rate and respiratory rate for up to 8 months after the training period.

Source: KoreaScience

 

Mindfulness meditation may even help treat HIV

Quoting from a study from UCLA:

Lymphocytes, or simply CD4 T cells, are the “brains” of the immune system, coordinating its activity when the body comes under attack. They are also the cells that are attacked by HIV, the devastating virus that causes AIDS and has infected roughly 40 million people worldwide. The virus slowly eats away at CD4 T cells, weakening the immune system.
But the immune systems of HIV/AIDS patients face another enemy as well – stress, which can accelerate CD4 T cell declines. Now, researchers at UCLA report that the practice of mindfulness meditation stopped the decline of CD4 T cells in HIV-positive patients suffering from stress, slowing the progression of the disease.
(…)
Creswell and his colleagues ran an eight-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction (MBSR) meditation program and compared it to a one-day MBSR control seminar, using a stressed and ethnically diverse sample of 48 HIV-positive adults in Los Angeles. Participants in the eight-week group showed no loss of CD4 T cells, indicating that mindfulness meditation training can buffer declines. In contrast, the control group showed significant declines in CD4 T cells from pre-study to post-study. Such declines are a characteristic hallmark of HIV progression.

Source: ScienceDaily

 

Meditation may make you live longer

Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age. Though the research is not conclusive yet, there is data suggesting that “some forms of meditation may have salutary effects on telomere length by reducing cognitive stress and stress arousal and increasing positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance.”
Source: Wiley Online Library

 

Meditation helps manage psoriasis

Psychological stress is a potent trigger of inflammation. A brief mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention delivered by audiotape during ultraviolet light therapy was found to increase the resolution of psoriatic lesions in patients with psoriasis.
Thanks to the reader Maricarmen for pointing out this fact.
Sources: NCBI (1, 2).

 

Health benefits of Transcendental Meditation

There is an abundance of studies around the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation (a popular modality of meditation). In a nutshell, TM is found to

  • Reduce metabolic syndrome (American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine, June 2006)
  • Extended longevity (American Journal of Cardiology, May 2005)
  • Lower blood pressure in at-risk teens (American Journal of Hypertension, April 2004; and DoctorsOnTM)
  • Reduce atherosclerosis (American Journal of Cardiology, April 2002)
  • Reduce thickening of Coronary Arteries (Stroke, March 2000)
  • Reduce myocardial ischemia (American Journal of Cardiology, May 1996)
  • Help manage and prevent anxiety (here & here)
  • Helps manage cholesterol (DoctorsOnTM)
  • Help treat epilepsy (DoctorsOnTM)
  • Helps you stop smoking (DoctorsOnTM)
  • Creates a state of deep rest in the body and mind (Hypertension 26: 820-827, 1995)
  • Increases skin resistance (Phyysiology & Behavior 35: 591-595, 1985)
  • Clarity of thinking (Perceptual and Motor Skills 39: 1031-1034, 1974)

Sources: David Lynch Foundation

 

4. Relationships

 

 

Loving-kindness meditation improves empathy and positive relationships

meditation enhances psychological well-beingIn Buddhist traditions we find the practice of metta, or loving-kindness meditation, where the practitioner focuses on developing a sense of benevolence and care towards all living beings. According to a study from Emory University, such exercises effectively boost one’s ability to empathize with others by way of reading their facial expressions.
Another study points out that the development of positive emotions through compassion builds up several personal resources, including “a loving attitude towards oneself and others, and includes self-acceptance, social support received, and positive relations with others”, as well as “feeling of competence about one’s life” and includes “pathways thinking, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and ego-resilience”.
Sources: ScienceDaily, NCBI, PLOS One

 

 

Loving-kindness meditation also reduces social isolation

In a study published in the American Psychological Association, subjects that did “even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals, on both explicit and implicit levels. These results suggest that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation”.
Source: American Psychological Association

 

Meditation increases feelings of compassion and decreases worry

After being assigned to a 9-week compassion cultivation training (CCT), individuals showed significant improvements in all three domains of compassion – compassion for others, receiving compassion from others, and self-compassion. In a similar situation, the practitioners also experienced decreased level of worry and emotional suppression.
Sources: Stanford School of Medicine (also here), Sage Journals.

 

Mindfulness meditation decreases feelings of loneliness

A study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that mindfulness meditation training is useful in decreasing feelings of loneliness, which in turn decreases the risk for morbidity, mortality, and expression of pro-inflammatory genes.
Source: ScienceDirect

 

Meditation reduces emotional eating

Scientists believe that Transcendental Meditation help manage emotional eating, which prevents obesity.
Source: DoctorsOnTM

 

5. Mindfulness For Kids

 

mindfulness in schools

In a huge compilation of studies made about mindfulness in schools, MindfulnessInSchools.org presented research evidence for the following benefits for kids:

  • reduced depression symptoms
  • reduced somatic stress
  • reduced hostility and conflicts with peers
  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced reactivity
  • reduced substance use
  • increased cognitive retention
  • increased self-care
  • increased optimism and positive emotions
  • increased self-esteem
  • increased feelings of happiness and well-being
  • improved social skills
  • improved sleep
  • improved self-awareness
  • improved academic performance

There were also numerous reports of benefits for teachers and staff, including:

  • increased personal qualities of open-minded curiosity, kindliness, empathy, compassion, acceptance, trust, patience, and non-striving, and the skills of focusing, and paying and switching attention
  • improvements in physical and mental health that tend to follow the learning of mindfulness, including conditions particularly relevant to the teaching profession such as stress and burnout
  • improved teaching self-efficacy
  • improved physical health
  • increased ability to give more appropriate support for students by through being more motivated and autonomous
  • decreased stress
  • increased work motivation
  • improved spatial memory, working memory and sustained attention

Source: MindfulnessInSchools.org

 

6. Miscellaneous

 

Some more interesting facts about meditation:

 

7. Conclusion

 

In a nutshell, science confirms the experience of millions of practitioners: meditation will keep you healthy, help prevent multiple diseases, make you happier, and improve your performance in basically any task, physical or mental.

However, in order to experience most of these benefits you need to practice meditation consistently (daily). If you need help creating the habit, checkout this post, and also my 5-week meditation course.

Here is the PDF I promised you:

 

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If you got some value from this article, please leave a comment so I know I’m on the right track with this blog.

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  • Mind Fighter

    Brilliant Article. As a beginner who is just starting to practice meditation and struggling to find motivation, these articles help me make a lot. Thank you.

    • Happy to hear, Mind Fighter!
      That is the purpose of sharing this: motivating people to meditate 🙂

  • Scott Rennie

    Do you also have a section on the negative effects of meditation?

    • Hi Scott,

      I did not have it, because in all my research I didn’t find much about it. Most papers mentioned that no negative side effect was observed. In a couple of places, though, I read that meditation has only been found to be harmful for certain people with extreme cases of psycotic disorder.

      So, in general, it’s a pretty safe practice.

      Are you aware of any negative effect that you would like to share about?

  • Slim44

    Interesting article, but it was almost entirely on mindfulness. It appears you did much less research on the practice of TM–which has been studied more extensively. Of the research on meditation done in the last 40+ years, the most high quality peer-reviewed studies have been done on TM, and that is important. For example, the American Heart Association last year did a comprehensive meta analysis of all the scientific research on meditation and heart disease–most importantly, high blood pressure. Their conclusion, which they published, stated that only Transcendental Meditation was found to reduce high blood pressure (and also they found remarkable long-term benefits for people with more serious heart ailments, including a dramatic reduction of morbidity). In their report, in which they encouraged doctors to prescribe TM for patients, they specifically stated that mindfulness has not been found to produce the same benefits. Also, the research on TM in schools, Vets (I am one) with PTSD, AIDS patients, etc., is quite remarkable. And also your report would have been much more complete, if you had covered the recent findings which show entirely different brain wave activity in different meditation techniques. Meditation techniques are now understood to be very different in their effects on the brain. In summary, I applaud and deeply appreciate your attempt to spread meditation, but I think you would do well in the future to do a more in-depth analysis of the benefits of TM. That will help your readers to understand their choices when they are thinking about beginning meditation. All the best to you in this fine New Year of progress in the world!

    • Hi Slim,
      Thanks for stopping by.

      Of all types of meditation, indeed TM and Mindfulness are the ones that are most wildly researched. The research around these two are much more extensive and organized. This doesn’t mean that any of these two is superior – only that more funds had been invested in researching these. Perhaps because of their popularity.

      You can check, at the end of Section 3 of this post, one section dedicated only to the benefits of TM. And I redirect the readers to two main sites that cover the topic of benefits of TM well: David Lynch Foundation and DoctorsOnTM. So, I believe TM was appropriately covered.

      I know well that TM has a great programs in schools, prisons, for Vets, etc. I just don’t agree that it has special benefits that other types of meditation lack. At the end of the day, there are only two ways you can regulate your attention in meditation: either open monitoring or focused attention. All types of meditation are modalities of one of these two main streams.

      Again, I appreciate TM. It is just that this site is not affiliated to any one modality or school of meditation in particular, but aims to give the reader quality resources about the practice on its broadest sense.

    • Slim44

      Hi Giovanni, thanks for getting back!

      In your comments you have said that there are only two ways you can regulate your attention during meditation. But in the last few years scientists have published papers showing three distinct types of meditation, as shown by three entirely different styles of brain wave (ie EEG) activity during different techniques of meditation. Following is a link to a summary of that research in an interview with Dr. David-Orme-Johnson, and also a short summary of that research just copied from an article in a British magazine on meditation.

      In the next few years, I expect we will see further advancements in determining brain wave differences in meditation techniques–and also in the exciting area of epigentics. The distinct ‘signature’ of brain wave activity during TM has been found to be a high and sustained level of alpha wave coherence. This brain pattern has not been found in other techniques of meditation (or in daily activity).

      http://issue21.tmmagazine.org/emailing/

      ————-
      With today’s blossoming of interest in meditation, a much clearer
      understanding of the variety of meditation types is emerging.

      Preliminary work in cataloguing the various methods has been
      started by Dr Fred Travis, a neuroscientist and Director of Brain
      Research at the Center
      for Leadership Performance in New York,
      and Jonathan Shear of Virginia Commonwealth University.

      Three main types of meditation

      “All experience changes the brain,” says Dr Travis. However, he
      points out, different experiences can be expected to give rise to
      different changes, and so produce different outcomes. Meditations
      involving concentration and directed focus will produce a
      different effect on the brain from those requiring contemplative
      monitoring, and a different impact again from transcending thought
      altogether.

      Examining published studies on meditation, Travis and Shear were
      able to identify three main categories of meditation based on
      brain patterns:

      • Focused attention practices (including
      loving-kindness-compassion, Diamond Way Buddhism, Qigong and
      Zen-3rd Venticle) were characterised by Gamma brain patterns
      (30-50Hz) and Beta 2 (20-30Hz)

      • Open Monitoring practices – non-evaluative awareness of
      experience (including Vipassana meditation, ZaZen meditation,
      Sahaja Yoga and Concentrative Qigong) – showed brain activity in
      the Theta waveband (5-8Hz)

      • Studies on Automatic Self-Transcending (Transcendental
      Meditation) displayed brain patterns in the Alpha 1 waveband
      (8-10Hz).

    • Hi Slim,

      There is still only two ways: you either focus your attention on an object (internal or external), or you let it be open and stabilize on itself.

      The proposal of a third category, here, seems arbitrary for me. A way to create a distinction for the TM practice from the other types of meditation (creating a category only for itself). I have seen this type of reasoning in spirituality, politics, martial arts and psychology as well.

      As to the brain waves, from what I have read and experienced, it is my understanding that the Alpha waves is actually the most common waves during meditation, for most styles. The deeper the practice is, the more the metabolism and brain waves slow down. So “slower”waves such as Tetha (or even Delta) would show a deeper state of rest, and experience beyond the personal self (ego). And studies have recorded these level of brain waves in practitioners of diferent styles, such as Zen and Tibetan monks, as well as mindfulness practitioners.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_activity_and_meditation
      http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12491/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-frequency.html

      Meditation has been around for over 3 thousand years, and it doesn’t sound so likely to me that a “special”, unique and superior way of meditation – never tried by masters like the Buddha or Ramana Maharshi – was just discovered 60 years ago.

      This is a very interesting discussion, thanks for raising these points.

    • Slim44

      Hi Giovanni,

      I would suggest that the analysis of how many distinct types of meditation there are would be best determined by the physiological responses to the techniques. And brain waves are just one of the ways of looking at what happens during meditation. Alpha wave EEG coherence–which starts in the frontal lobe and spreads throughout the brain during TM–has been associated with a large number of positive findings; ie GPA’s, moral reasoning, IQ, etc.

      By the way, I have not said in my posts that TM is superior to other types. I said that TM is distinctly unique in it’s effect on mind and body–and the most definitive research has been done on TM. And I think the evidence is already strong in that direction. It may well be that mindfulness, and other techniques score higher in various types of research–since the practice, and aim–is unique and different than TM practice.

      Just to clarify, TM was not ‘discovered’ 60 years ago. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi received the ancient Vedic technique from his Master Swami Brahmanada Saraswati, who was the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, one of the four main centers of Vedic teaching in India. TM, according to Maharishi, is an ancient technique–not new in any way.

      As to what the Buddha and other Saints throughout time have practiced, I would not want to comment–I don’t think it is so clear. Ramana Maharishi’s story–as told by him–is well known. As he described it frequently, he ‘popped in’ during an experience of illness (he even said he was dying). So he explained that his process/experience of enlightenment was not due to meditation.

      Epigenetics is especially interesting, because it will likely give greater insight into what happens in the physiology during different techniques of meditation. Apparently there is at least one study, to be published this year, which shows significant changes in gene expression in people who practice TM–as compared to controls. It will be a very exciting time this year, and in the future, as science sorts these things out!, Regards…

    • I dont mean to create a debate here. I’m just expounding my point of view and the results of my research.
      I think people should be educated as to the several types of meditation, try all the ones they feel attracted to, and choose what suits them best.
      Thank you, again, for enriching this post with your comments.

    • I think its quite possible that some types of meditation have stronger specific benefits than others. For instance, meditation practice in itself is good for the heart and circulation; has TM stronger benefits for the heart than the others? Perhaps.

      One thing to be careful with studies comparing meditation types, is that the practitioners of all meditations have the same amount of practice under their belt. That is not what I saw in one of these studies as it was exposed to me in a TM introductory class. In that study, the group of TM practitioners had many more hours of practice than the groups compared to. Of course, the benefits they experienced would be greater.

      As you said, it has its roots in the Vedic tradition, which is the root of thousands of meditation practices. The method of practicing TM, which is basically focusing the mind on a given mantra, and letting the mind settle in its own silence, is not fundamentally different from other types of meditation. So the results will probably not be fundamentally different.

      But I’m also very curious to see the scientific developments in independent research in the following years.

      Personally, I have practiced Zen meditation and the “self enquiry” of Ramana Maharshi (atma vichara) for years, and have felt most of the benefits ascribed to TM. So I would encourage people to practice whatever kind of authentic meditation that they feel attracted to – and not be feeling like “If I want this type of benefit I must practice that specific type of meditation”.

      Are you a TM teacher?

    • Slim44

      Hi Giovanni,

      Again, I appreciate your site and what are you are trying to accomplish. Bravo!

      I don’t doubt for a minute that you have had good experiences with what you practice! I can only talk about my own experience with other techniques.

      I am not teaching TM although as you can surely tell–I do look at the research and occasionally comment on interesting topics concerning meditation.

      Personally, I have tried quite a few types of meditation earlier. And that is why I especially enjoy commenting on comparisons of meditation. In my experience, both the technique and results of TM were significantly different. In fact, I agree with a friend of mine who also learned TM after trying other techniques. He said that the TM technique is almost exactly opposite to what one tries to accomplish with mindfulness and other techniques. He calls TM ‘non-mindfulness’.

      In my experience, the big difference is transcending: And what that does to the brain and the rest of the physiology. I never had that with other techniques and in fact, they mostly taught us to keep the mind focused–the exact opposite effect of transcending. Here is what Dr. David Orme-Johnson, a researcher who has been involved in many peer-reviewed studies, said about his experience. I add this simply because it was my experience as well (and I am not claiming that this can only happen with TM–just that it seems far more common–and is the stated goal of the practice):

      “The difference is that Transcendental Meditation produces
      transcending, taking the mind from its active levels to increasing
      subtler levels, until it transcends to transcendental consciousness, the
      inner silent, unbounded awareness at the basis of the mind, which is
      the source of bliss, happiness, and creativity.

      Many techniques that I am aware of do not even know about
      transcending, much less purport to produce it. Some of them produce
      some degree of relaxation, but it is not accompanied by that profound
      sense of well-being and nourishment that I get from TM.”

      One of the most interesting findings for me has been the research on higher states of consciousness (Enlightenment) conducted by Dr. Fred Travis in the last few years. Interestingly, he found that the alpha coherence of brand new TM meditators was quite a bit the same as long term TM meditators. At first he was puzzled by this, but then after researching what was happening in the brains of both groups–after meditation while active–he found that the long term meditators demonstrated a significant level of EEG alpha (frontal lobe and total brain), even in the field of activity.

      He was studying those who have the all-time experience of ‘witnessing sleep’, one of the criteria that Maharishi mentioned for the experience of Cosmic Consciousness. This is a VERY exciting new area of research and i have heard that Dr. Norman Rosenthal (prominent researcher and author who ‘discovered’ SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder), is now doing further research on those experiencing higher states of consciousness. And Dr. Travis as well–a whole new level of research on meditation effects.

      Again, I think many different results/benefits will be there with different techniques–and that is a good thing! One can search and find what they are looking for.

      All the Best…..

    • Thanks for clarifying and sharing your views, Slim!

      Indeedm although many modalities of meditation have the idea of “transcending the mind” at its root and origin, when they are presented as a general health practice, this is seldom exposed. In this sense, it is great that TM researchers are shedding some scientific light on it.

      Interesting enough, I did not experience that “transcending” with mindfulness meditation or zazen (though they brought great benefits, deep rest, and changes in my life). Similar to what you mentioned. But I did experience that with the “Self Enquiry” of Ramana Maharshi. It is indeed an effortless state; the “natural” state.

      Happy to hear that TM brought that to you.

      Next month I will be publishing another massive post, this time about the different types of meditation. It would be great to have your contact, so I can ask some questions when writing the section about TM. Please contact me via the site.

    • hanumanprasad

      Thank you, exemplary service. Tell me how to do meditation

    • You may try TM, as Slim44 suggested.
      If you are interested in other types of meditation, there is a lot of information out there too, and I’m currently building another huge article on how to practice the different “styles” of meditation. (You may wish to subscribe to get notified when it’s out).

  • oz

    How you reconcile what you are saying with this meta analysis.

    After reviewing 18 753 citations, we included 47 trials with 3515 participants. Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety (effect size, 0.38 [95% CI, 0.12-0.64] at 8 weeks and 0.22 [0.02-0.43] at 3-6 months), depression (0.30 [0.00-0.59] at 8 weeks and 0.23 [0.05-0.42] at 3-6 months), and pain (0.33 [0.03- 0.62]) and low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health-related quality of life. We found low evidence of no effect or insufficient evidence of any effect of meditation programs on positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, and weight. We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (ie, drugs, exercise, and other behavioral therapies).
    I help people with meditation and make no promises. the impact varies substantially between people

    • Hi oz,

      Regarding the study you quoted, I’m not sure how updated that is. The quality of research on meditation on the last 5~10 years is much better than it was in the 70’s and 80’s. Several of other studies that came across, with solid criteria, did report very substantial improvements when dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, and pain (among other things). You can see the links to them in the sources.

      Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs have been going on since 1979 – started by John Kabat-Zinn, Phd – and has helped millions of people deal with stress and other psychological conditions. I don’t think they would be around for 3 decades – and growing – if their results on improving stress and quality of life were “low”.

      I think its great you make no promises. The benefits of meditation do serve as a motivation to start, but the person ideally should practice without focusing on them, as you know.

    • oz

      Its a 2014 study – any thoughts now. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24395196

      Its interesting – i have almost finished a book based on over 200 interviews with people. One of the things i found is that people with lower expectations were the ones who kept going. It’s almost like they had one of the basics in place before they started.

      Would you like to be interviewed?

    • Thanks for the link. I need to analyse this carefully. But the studies that I linked above did show substantial results in those aspects.

      On the other hand, it does make me think how much more the mega pharmaceutical industry will allow studies about meditation continue to conclude that it is efficacious at preventing, or even treating, several diseases, and with basically no negative side effect. (I’m not saying that that is the case with the study you shared – I haven’t read it yet – but it makes me wonder.)

      Thank you for the invitation. I am interested to know more about your book. Please send me an email (contact form of the site, under “About”) and we talk about it.

  • FriendlyAlien19

    Hi, where is the PDF file? It is missing. “Here is the PDF I promised you:” then nothing is there….. thank you! 🙂

    • Hi FriendlyAlien,

      Can you try reloading the page? I checked in more than one browser and the orange button was there: http://cl.ly/image/343k1x1M301g

      If you still cannot, than please contact me (via About me menu) and I will send it to you.

  • Thank you so much for doing all this work! I reposted to my FB. I teach mindfulness meditation and compassion practice and I can tell you that 100% of the people in my class have fantastic results in terms of decreases in anxiety, decreases in their level of reactivity, and are generally happier and more content. It’s so awesome to witness. Personally, this practice has changed my life (that’s why I’m so passionate about teaching it!) I use a variety of modalities and make it fun, even though it is deep work. If you want to see what I’m up to, check out http://www.mindfulmethodsforlife.com. I’d love to stay in touch! We are a beautiful community of healers!

  • louis alloro

    hey i don’t see the button for pdf version

    • louis

      ps. LOVE this

    • Hi Louis, send me an email (giovanni [@] wesyncapp . com) and I’ll forward it to you.
      For some people somehow the button is not showing up…

  • Anita Webster

    Amazing resource!! nice job..thank you

  • Michelle Leith

    Love your blog!! I am on mobile right now but you have so much that I will be back tomorrow!!!

  • Carla Souza

    Thank you very much for this study and the words about meditation. I will finally make it an habit in my life. Thanls from Brasil.

    • Happy to know, Carla.
      You may wish to try Coach.me. It’s an app and website that helps people build habits. I personally use it as well.
      Também sou brasileiro, de Porto Alegre 🙂

  • Julie

    Please allow me to download the pdf without having to subscribe to weekly nuggets of wisdom. i appreciate your research and would like to share it with others but my inbox is already clogged with wisdom.
    Thanks
    Julie

    • Hi Julie,
      I understand. Please contact me through the contact form in this site.
      Also, feel free to refer your friends to this page.

  • clacecil vaca flores

    Thanks for your post, it is so important to me, i don´t want medication for depression, i want meditation…tanks a lot!

    • That’s a great determination!
      Later on this month I’ll publish a post teaching the different types of meditation. Stay tuned 🙂

  • Found this video today, partially based on the same body of research:
    http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/01/the-benefits-of-meditation-explained-in-a-short-video/

  • What a great post, I’m going to have to read this a few more times, there is so much great information here, thank you for sharing!

  • Spiritual Warrior

    Dear Giovanni, thank you so much for doing this. I had been on and off with meditation for the past 7 years. Your post was the missing motivation! I’ve seen been meditating every night, resolution for 2015. May the benefits of it be directed to you as well. In gratitude. OM

  • Spiritual Warrior

    Dear Giovanni, thank you so much for doing this. I had been on and off with meditation for the past 7 years. Your post was the missing motivation! I’ve since been meditating every single night, resolution for 2015. (^ ^)v May the benefits of it be directed to you as well. In gratitude. OM

  • I found this new compilation of studies, that is also pretty interesting: http://www.mindful.org/mindful-magazine/research-roundup

  • Vie

    Thank you Giovanni for your post!

  • Mindfulmovement

    Really needed to read something like this today! I found another great blog on the science of mind body, this post in particular was pretty useful – https://www.theconnection.tv/how-to-meditate-what-type-how-long-how-often/. Just going into the different types of meditation, how long you should be doing it etc!

  • darshi

    in nature’s evolutionary cycle the limbic brain was necessary for survival ,and got triggered only on need based response,the primitive man metabolised the stress hormone by physical activity [fight or flight].meditation and alternate nostril breathing seem to be the only answer to managing the limbic brain , which is being unwantedly triggered by too frequent perception of threat, in present times.

    • Yes. In the past 200,000 years our brain hasn’t changed much, but our life is radically different.

  • John L. Dobbs

    I’m amazed at the many benefits of meditation practice. Thanks for compiling this list. It’s especially helpful to newbies like me. This article was very well done.

  • I recently sound a new infographic about the benefits of meditation:
    http://www.liquidlifestyle.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/How-Meditation-can-Transform-your-Life.jpg

    Among other things, it shows that meditators have 50% less doctor visits than no meditators, and that meditation helps with chronic depression, anxiety, insomnia, and heart disease prevention.

  • Erica

    What are someways of meditation? For people that are just starting to do it.
    Thanks

  • zendengon

    Thank you so much for your insightful compilation of benefits caused by meditation. I am experiencing some of those benefits now after meditating about 15 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night in daily basis. I also, found tat I am able to control my stress and my afflictions better if I use the same method of meditation to my daily thoughts that provoke these states of mind. I don’t attached to the thoughts therefore I can let go more proficiently that before I started meditating.
    Thank you again!
    Arigatogosaimasu

    • I’m very happy to hear the benefits meditation is bringing in your life.
      Just curious: how long have you been practicing, and what method do you use?

  • zendengon

    Hi Giovanni,
    I used to meditate all throughout my adolescence and middle 20’s. Then I stopped.
    I started again about five years ago. I used the awareness of my breathing to bring my mind to a focus for the most part but I also like to use an object to concentrate.
    While I meditate I don’t fight the thoughts that come to my mind. I simply acknowledge them and rapidly let them go and start minding my breathing again. During the last year of my practice I feel that I’m able to meditate during my household shores, when I walk and when I paint without too much effort, kind of automatic.
    Thank you for your interest!

  • Meditation is a great way to relax the mind and body, as well as Anxiety decreases. Meditation brings a sense of calm. Meditation helps us to see that fulfilling the desires of the mind will not bring a lasting sense of contentment. To experience the benefits of meditation, regular practice is necessary. It takes only a few minutes every day. Meditation is like a seed. When you cultivate a seed with love, the more it blossoms.

  • Helene Musso

    Thank you for the extensive research. Much appreciated. it help skeptics to diffuse the myth that meditation is only for the hippies etc…

  • Fulchand Meshram

    Morality , Mindfulness and Pradnya are the basic components of Vipassana Meditation , Buddha taught. It consists of Noble eight fold Path which if properly practiced and followed , eradicates the mental defilements and purifies the mind. Mind becomes full of compassion and peaceful . Physical benefits that may result during the meditation are the by products of the mind purification process. It is good if they occur but our aim to do Vipassana meditation should not be to attain these benefits. Ultimate objective of Vipassana Meditation should be to get liberated from craving and aversion and other defilements and attain Nirvana which keeps you away from the cycle of birth and Death.

    • Hi Fulchand,
      I agree with you regarding the ultimate goals of meditation. Yet there are millions of people that meditate, and few of those are after those goals. This article caters for a wider audience.

    • Fulchand Meshram

      Thats right Giovanni. Many more people would be motivated for doing Meditation by taking inspiration from your article Scientific Benefits of Meditation. Candace Pert , a medical researcher have also recommended meditation for healthy Life in her book Molecules of Emotion. She believes that Meditation relieves the stress by releasing emotions which otherwise are stuck to the modes that subvert a Healthy Mind-Body flow of Biochemicals.

  • Is running a meditative activity, do you think?

    • Meditation is the training of attention and awareness, basically. Running, like any other activity, can also be used as a tool to train our mind, as a meditative training.
      Still, the practice of seated meditation is important in itself, because it creates the opportunity to train attention and awareness at a deeper level.

    • Marc Bryant

      hi i wanted to speak to you about your benefits of meditation article i saw you are on coach me i signed up for that site can you email me at marcbryant301 AT gmail . com

    • I’ll contact you by email!

    • Sharan

      I hope this helps::

      You will not think of running as a meditation, but runners sometimes
      have felt a tremendous experience of meditation. They were surprised,
      because they were not looking for it — who thinks that a runner is going
      to experience the divine? — but it has happened, and now running is
      becoming more and more a new kind of meditation.

      It can happen in
      running. If you have ever been a runner, if you have enjoyed running in
      the early morning when the air is fresh and young and the whole world is
      coming back out of sleep, awakening, and you were running and your body
      was functioning beautifully, and the fresh air, and the new world again
      born out of the darkness of the night, and everything singing all
      around, and you were feeling so alive…. A moment comes when the runner
      disappears; there is only running. The body, mind and soul start
      functioning together; suddenly an inner orgasm is released.

      Runners have sometimes come accidentally on the experience of the fourth, turiya,
      although they will miss it because they will think it was just because
      of running that they enjoyed the moment; that it was a beautiful day,
      that the body was healthy and the world was beautiful, and it was just a
      certain mood. They will not take note of it. But if they take
      note of it, my own observation is that a runner can come close to
      meditation more easily than anybody else. Jogging can be of immense
      help, swimming can be of immense help. All these things have to be
      transformed into meditations.

      Drop old ideas of meditations, that
      just sitting underneath a tree with a yoga posture is meditation. That
      is only one of the ways, and may be suitable for a few people but is not
      suitable for all. For a small child it is not meditation, it is
      torture. For a young man who is alive, vibrant, it is repression, it is
      not meditation.

    • Thanks for the contributions as to running as a contemplative practice.

      However, I don’t agree with what you say in the last paragraph. Call me “old school”, but I see that seated meditation (regardless of posture or place) is still essential. It might not feel so in the beginning, but it gives the opportunity to go deeper than in “meditation during activity”.

      I’d say sitting meditation works in the depth; meditation in activity works in the breadth of practice.

      I was a very vibrant – and hyperactive – teenager, and a child with ADHD. Yet meditation felt like a relief, and a deep exploration; not a repression. If there is a lot of energy and impulse to move, in the body, then perhaps that’s not the best time of the day to sit. Do some physical exercise first to express that energy.

      My two cents.

  • Marc Bryant

    i wanted to speak to you about your benefits of meditation article i saw you are on coach me i signed up for that site can you email me at marcbryant301 AT gmail . com

  • Diana Michael

    My name is Diana, I am here to give my testimony about a doctor who helped me in my life. I was infected with CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE in 2010, i went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, so I was thinking how can I get a solution out so that my body can be okay. One day I was in the river side thinking where I can go to get solution. so a lady walked to me telling me why am I so sad and i open up all to her telling her my problem, she told me that she can help me out, she introduce me to a doctor who uses herbal medication to cure CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE and gave me his email, so i mail him. He told me all the things I need to do and also give me instructions to take, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after four weeks the CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE that was in my body got cured . so if you are also heart broken and also need a help, you can also email him at [email protected] OR [email protected] OR [email protected]

  • Recent study on how practicing meditation increases the self-control network of the brain, and resulted in the participants smoking less cigarettes after a few weeks of practice, even though they had no intention of stopping: http://www.medicaldaily.com/mindful-meditation-beats-addiction-practicing-self-control-first-step-becoming-smoke-345504

  • Ronald C. Tunstall

    The benefits of meditation are increased self-awareness and acceptance
    also contributes to improved overall well- being.

  • Emma Bragdon

    thanks for this article…great job with graphics and summaries in categories. I’ll be referring to it in a course I am teaching for http://www.IMHU.org/courses. There’s a growing interest now in spiritual emergency and quite a lack of information about different kinds of meditation and what they are good for. Your article will be very helpful.

  • Iván Rodríguez

    Excellent report on a marvelous practice. Cheers!

  • Erica Rascon

    What a terrific resource! Thanks for putting this together.

  • Izzy

    You had me until “Meditators are more able to affect the reality around us, in a quantum level”. Was that really necessary after such a great article? No less, I’ll continue my fruitful practice. A tinge of skepticism with it goes a long way.

    • Hi Izzy,

      I understand that that bit didn’t speak to you. I’m personally also not a fan of the new age use of the “quantum” word, so I’m skeptical about these things.

      However, in my research I did come across that article, and found it curious that the experiment, which included 12 meditators in a Zen Temple, suggests that meditation “significantly correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double slit interference pattern”.

      It’s not conclusive, but just an interesting indication, so I included that at the bottom of the post, for completion, so people can draw their own conclusions.

    • Izzy

      Ah, I see. I appreciate your candor. I am wary of that type of pseudoscience talk, as meditation is already seen as weird. People don’t need another reason to avoid or ridicule it. Thanks for your reply.

    • Elizabeth Louw

      I personally have seen these effects in my own life over my last twenty years of meditating. At first it was crazy – like why is it I keep getting everything I want… I mean even like small stuff… Books, popcorn bowls, but also big stuff like my marriage and my job (well all my jobs at this point). That was around like 1998 / 2000 that I started really seeing that effect. I can tell you that now I’ve kindof gotten used to being able to influence reality and – at a conceptual level – I even understand how it works or could work at least 😊.

    • Izzy

      I’m happy for you but a single person’s story is not going to change my mind about science.

  • Greg Cook

    Thank you for taking the time to put this together. When I did a search for the benefits of meditation, your page was the first one to come up and it blessed me so very much. Very well done and very helpful! I knew meditation was good for you but this really knocks it home. I am inspired to spend more time meditating regularly (right now it’s a sporadic thing). I will definitely share this with others and already did. Thank you again.

    • So glad this inspired you to meditate more often, Greg! That’s the purpose of this post. 🙂

  • Wow, this is a lot of reading and a lot of work and to give it away for free! I hope you make your goal of reaching a million people! I have personally been struggling with meditation over the past year but am starting to see some benefits now. I believe that if you realy struggle to meditate than you may need it all the more…
    A lot of these seem like the same thing, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, low blood pressure, etc. Do you think that all the effects of meditation can be summed up as one thing. I feel like there is something along the lines of reducing my imaginary world and seeing the world as it is, aside from the flurry of thoughts, worries, cravings and stuff.

    • Yes, Greg, that’s correct. The spiritual benefits of meditation, however, is not much object of scientific research (at least not at this point), and they are highly subjective. So this post is only about the scientifically proven ones, which are basically the benefits to your body and mind.

    • I wasn’t really thinking of it as spiritual…but this may be the only way this strain of thought has progressed so far… But, I have heard of research where in fmri scans imagining things looks almost the same as seeing them for real. I would think that meditation would help to get away from that and by doing so solve stress/fear/depression…I’m just shooting in the dark, but that is what I was getting at.

    • I have also heard that the brain doesn’t really know the difference between something that is seen and something that is imagined. I do think this fact can be used for healing and re-wiring negative mindsets. But that would be mostly practices of visualization, rather than concentration/meditation.

    • I mean that if the imagination is the source of (irrational) fear/anxiety/stress/depression, meditation may be a way of helping the brain realize the difference between reality and imagination. I realize from reading your article that no study has been done on this, but I think it could be done, and would be pretty interesting.

    • Yes. Ultimately speaking, meditation can help the mind be free, and emptied, of its own imaginations. In Buddhism and Raja Yoga paths this is emphasized a lot.

  • Alex Ureche

    Very intersting article!

  • Deeksha

    Wow! I appreciate the effort you must have put in to create such a comprehensive article. I would just like to bring to your awareness the existence of a similar approach called heartfulness. This involves a simple method of meditating on the heart. It shares the same physiological and cognitive benefits and in addition focuses on spiritual evolution. If you’re interested you can explore at http://en.heartfulness.org/

    • Hi Deeksha,

      Thanks for sharing this. I had never heard of this meditation, but reading through some of the articles in the site, it reminds me of some Yogic techniques.

      When there it mention to focus on the heart center, is this the Anahata chakra or the Hridaya (spoken of in the Upanishads)?

  • Meditation could reduce the need for health care services by 43 percent: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/10/relaxation-response-proves-positive/

  • Hanan Ramahi

    Thank you for your comprehensive and thorough report on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness.

  • Belinda Soglimbene

    Thank you for taking the time out and sharing your research, its much appreciated. I will be sharing your article on my FB and website. I’ve started practicing transcendental meditation and i have noticed a big improvement on my acne and anxiety. Keep spreading the love!

  • Dorian Pasian

    Excellent article, I’m happy people like you are taking their time to construct such helpful articles like this one. As a novice meditator I can say that even after a week and a half (with 30-40 mins of different meditation practices) of practice you will start to see the benefits, specially in non-reactivity and compassion torwards others. It surely is a practice not meant to do every now and then, but take it as a lifestyle, as a part of your daily routine, and seriously, it truly has the power to change your life. Thank you for your efforts into showing this vital discipline to the world 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Dorian! Non-reactivity is a great asset to have in this crazy world, and also good for relationships.

  • Elizabeth Louw

    Thank you SO much for putting this research together. I’ve personally seen so many meditation benefits over the last twenty years, but I was putting together something for work and wanted information that was more data-driven then my own personal experience.

    If you ever wanted to check out my blog the link is below.

    https://standingstonesblog.wordpress.com

  • Dalexis Perez
  • Ljupka

    This is an amazing article. I started doing research on meditation so I could write an article for my blog, and the information that you presented here were of great help.

    For the last year I’ve been meditating here and there, but now I’m trying to incorporate it into my daily routine. it makes me feel calmer, I can easily concentrate on whatever I’m doing, I’m more compassionate, more oriented towards others.

    For those who would like to check my blog on Healthy Lifestyle here is the link:

    http://www.healthyhabitsblog.org/

  • JChildress

    Thank you. I really appreciated learning about the many benefits of meditation and mindfulness as I embark on learning to meditate. Everything happens for a reason and reading your article came at just the right time.

  • Very good information..

  • Hey Giovanni,
    Not sure how I just now managed to stumble upon this page (or LineandDare in general) recently, but I just wanted to take a second to tell you what a great post this is. Most resources online are shallow and lacking, while this is incredibly valuable, thoughtful, and as complete a guide on the benefits of meditation as I’ve ever seen online. I linked to it in a recent update of one of my basic meditation guides.

    Peace,
    Matt

    • That’s great to hear, Matt!
      Yes, I was also surprised not to find a comprehensive guide like this anywhere. That’s what motivated me to write it. 🙂

  • Jason Kioke

    Thank you for sharing.

  • I recently found this other article that speaks of the benefits of meditation (in more technical terms): http://www.anti-agingfirewalls.com/2015/07/16/the-top-21benefits-of-meditation/

  • Agyat Agyat

    Hi! Giovanni,
    I just finished reading your work on Types of Meditation and I must say that it is awesome. By far the best I have come across so far. I read many articles and I realized most of them are really crappy. Thank you very much for such hard work and putting all the information together in one place. I really appreciate it 🙂
    Thanks,
    Agyat

  • Ilya Romanov

    Dear Giovanni,
    Thank you for your article, I’m on the way to begin my meditation classes, and this just made me more confident that I’m on the right way. Thank you for your time and work!!

  • Mohammed Ali

    thanks for the article, my fav. articles are sourced posts <3

  • Maricarmen

    Thank you Giovanni, really useful! Cheers!

  • Maricarmen

    Hi Giovanni, I was attending a conference of Jon Kabat-Zinn in Madrid. He explained that in a recent study made with people having psoriasis, they were exposed to ultraviolet rays, and they divided them in 2 groups, one of meditators and the other one no meditators. They found that the group of meditators healed 4 times more than the other group. Incredible, isn’t it?If you want to add that to your article. He also added hat the inflamatory reponse is also on the source of almost all diseases, and meditation had an impact in this case too…he says it opens the door to see what happens with people having cancer (not the same celulles implied in psoriasis than in cancer, but the inflamatory reponse is common to both of them) Thank you for your work!! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing this, Maricarmen. It makes sense to me that meditation helps treating psoriasis, exactly because of it’s effect of cellular inflammation.
      I’ll add it to this page.

  • Kristen

    Thank you for this awesome collection of data showing, for those needing proof, how beneficial meditation is for just about everything!

  • Rebecca Kern Steiner

    Thank you so much for sharing you hard work. I am about to teach healthcare practitioners a Centering Method based on Centering Prayer and the articles you found will be very helpful. Thank you for contributing to make our world a better place!!!

    • Wish you the best in your meditation teaching! Feel free to recommend this compilation to your students. 🙂

  • elitely

    A great resource. Thanks for sharing it….

  • Another study on how Yoga and Meditation may reduce Alzheimer’s risk:
    http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/yoga-meditation-may-reduce-alzheimers-risk-2795011/