We now have 40+ years research into the effects of mindfulness meditation and there are thousands of scientific-backed reports proving 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.
Here are a few of the main scientific proven benefits of mindfulness meditation:
- Anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion and irritability all decrease with regular sessions of meditation.
- Memory improves, reaction times become faster and mental and physical stamina increase.
- Mindfulness can dramatically reduce pain and the emotional reaction to it. Recent trials suggest that average pain ‘unpleasantness’ levels can be reduced by 57 per cent while accomplished meditators report reductions of up to 93 per cent.
- Clinical trials show that mindfulness improves mood and quality of life in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia8 and lower-back pain, in chronic functional disorders such as IBS, and in challenging medical illnesses, including multiple sclerosis11 and cancer.
- Mindfulness improves working memory, creativity, attention span and reaction speeds. It also enhances mental and physical stamina and resilience.
- Meditation improves emotional intelligence.
- 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.
- Mindfulness reduces addictive and self-destructive behaviour. These include the abuse of illegal and prescription drugs and excessive alcohol intake.
- Meditation enhances brain function. It increases grey matter in areas associated with self-awareness, empathy, self-control and attention. It soothes the parts of the brain that produce stress hormones and builds those areas that lift mood and promote learning.20 It even reduces some of the thinning of certain areas of the brain that naturally occurs with ageing (although this may result primarily from a reduction in stress levels).
- Meditation improves the immune system. Regular meditators are admitted to hospital far less often for cancer, heart disease and numerous infectious diseases.
- Meditation and mindfulness improve control of blood sugar in type II diabetes.
- Meditation improves heart and circulatory health by reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of hypertension. Mindfulness reduces the risks of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease and lowers its severity should it arise.
credit: Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World