Even though the academic research on mindfulness meditation isn't as robust as, say, nutrition or exercise, there is a reason why it's been around for literally thousands of years. And we're starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions.
With that in mind, here are a list of reasons why you might want to consider incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily life. I've collected these from a number of articles.
1. It lowers stress -- literally. Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation. MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is the formal programme, recognised by the UK NHS, that is the most often quoted programme. Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase. In short, regular meditators are happier and more contented, while being far less likely to suffer from psychological distress. Research published in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it's also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
2. It can reduce chronic pain.The work that Jon Kabat Zin prove that mindfulness enhances mental and physical wellbeing and reduces chronic pain. Clinical trials show that mindfulness is at least as effective as the main prescription painkillers while also enhancing the body’s natural healing systems.
3. It can make your results better. Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds. It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience.
4. It improves emotional intelligence. It helps with the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. "emotional intelligence is the key to both personal and professional success"
5. It could help people with arthritis. A 2011 study in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease shows that even though mindfulness training may not help to lessen pain for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it could help to lower their stress and fatigue.
6. Mindfulness is at least as good as drugs or counselling for the treatment of clinical-level depression. One structured programme known as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is now one of the preferred treatments recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
7. It works as the brain's "volume knob." Ever wondered why mindfulness meditation can make you feel more focused? It's because it helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotions, specifically through the control of cortical alpha rhythms (which play a role in what senses our minds are attentive to), according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
8. It makes music sound better. Mindfulness meditation improves our focused engagement in music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we're listening to, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Music.
9. It helps us even when we're not actively practicing it. You don't have to actually be meditating for it to still benefit your brain's emotional processing. That's the finding of a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which shows that the amygdala brain region's response to emotional stimuli is changed by meditation, and this effect occurs even when a person isn't actively meditating.
10. It could help your doctor be better at their job. Doctors, listen up: Mindfulness meditation could help you better care for your patients. Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that doctors who are trained in mindfulness meditation are less judgmental, more self-aware and better listeners when it comes to interacting with patients.
11. It makes you a better person. It it can also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, "do-good" behavior.
12. It could make going through cancer just a little less stressful. Research from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine shows that mindfulness coupled with art therapy can successfully decrease stress symptoms among women with breast cancer. And not only that, but imaging tests show that it is actually linked with brain changes related to stress, emotions and reward.
13. It could help with other non-cancer related illnesses. Clinical trials show that mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and lower-back pain, in chronic functional disorders such as IBS, and in challenging medical illnesses, and multiple sclerosis.
14. Finally, It can help you sleep better. A University of Utah study found that mindfulness training can not only help us better control our emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress".
so what have you got to lose by trying it? If you want any help, do get in touch.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” ― Bernard M. Baruch