Meditation and health
- Increases happiness. Scientists at the University of Wisconsin reported that people newly trained in meditation have shown an increase in electrical activity in the left frontal part of the brain, an area associated with positive emotion and happiness.
- Boosts the immune system. In the same study, meditators also showed a significant increase in immunity to the flu.
- Enhances memory and attention. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital found that parts of the brain’s cerebral cortex were thicker in people who had practiced meditation daily for just 40 minutes for several years. The cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that deals with attention and processing sensory input and tends to thin with age.
- Reduces the physical pain, anxiety, and stress of fibromyalgia. A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics showed sustained benefits over a three year period in a group of women who had taken an eight-week course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
- Lowers blood pressure. A 2004 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed meditation can lower blood pressure and mortality rates in older people with hypertension.
- Helps alleviate mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Researchers at the University of Louisville found that mindfulness meditation alleviates depression in women with fibromyalgia.
- Increases alertness. University of Kentucky researchers found that sleepy people who meditated for 40 minutes did better on a test of mental quickness than people who had taken a 40-minute nap.
- Helps control binge eating. A study at Indiana State University found that obese women who practiced mindfulness meditation had an average of four fewer binge-eating episodes a week than before they took up the practice. Mindfulness can help bingers recognize when they want to overeat and lower the odds that they will.
- Helps lower blood sugar: Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles showed that patients were able to lower their blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin by practicing transcendental meditation.