Is Mindfulness Meditation good for you?
As amazing as some of the claimed benefits of meditation might seem, there is a growing body of work that suggests mindfulness meditation is indeed good for you.
Putting aside the inevitable caveats and variables, the evidence of hundreds of studies is that meditation is good for you – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
And the surprising thing is that many of the positive benefits are felt after only a few weeks of mindfulness meditation practice.
Episode 47 of The Changeability Podcast
In episode 47 of The Changeability Podcast we talk about what these benefits of meditation are. Listen above or on iTunes, Stitcher or Tunein (and subscribe so you get every episode automatically.)
You can find references to the academic studies they’re based on, in the books listed in the resources section below. (Also good further reading on the subject.)
But it’s not just about academic studies and therapists. What we’re talking about is also based on the evidence and experience of people like us.
We asked the Changeability Facebook group if those who meditated experienced any benefits.
You can hear their answers in the podcast episode.
Listen to hear the full version, but here’s a summary for you.
"The goal of meditation isn't to control your thoughts, it's to stop letting them control you"
The benefits of meditation include:
- Through focusing on the present and being here now.
“Meditation taught me to let go of those worrying thoughts and concentrate on what's happening in the present.” Melissa
- Improved focus, concentration and clarity of thinking
- Through developing the habit of deliberately applying your attention.
“It definitely helps my concentration. I'm not as distracted when I meditate and I can focus on tasks more quickly and for longer duration.” Craig
- Engendering a sense of tranquillity, peace and well being
- Through the refreshing impact of stilling your mind leading to calming of the emotions.
“I meditate mainly to slow my often at times busy or ruminating mind.” Ange
- Developing a deeper self understanding, awareness and acceptance
- Through overcoming the habit of mental chatter and calming your mind.
“The more we know our thoughts, the better we get to know ourselves.” Craig
- Increased creativity and inspiration
- Through openness to the subconscious.
- Producing an optimum state to make you receptive to creating change in your life
- Through reducing your brain wave pattern from normal everyday beta level of consciousness, to the deeper alpha and theta levels more conducive to deep learning, changes in behaviour and increased moments of insight.
- Becoming more compassionate
- Through practising being less judgemental and more open to others.
- A sense of perspective
- Through enhancing an ability to stand back from the world and yourself and observe from an unbiased or non-critical place. Literally taking a breather (if you’re using breath as the focus of your meditation) can help you take a new perspective or gain a sense of perspective.
“A break from reality for me.” Rich
- Rediscover or uncover a love of life
- Through knowing that thoughts and feelings come and go and you have an element of choice about what you do with them.
- Through making more of the life you have right now. Appreciating what is around you and being more present in the present.
- More happiness and contentment
- Psychological studies show people who meditate on a regular basis are happier and more content than the average population.
- Dealing with everyday anxieties and stress through positively affecting the underlying brain patterns associated with negative thought patterns.
- Through changing your emotional set point. Which is not a set emotional thermostat to which you always revert, as was previously thought.
“I love meditating - makes me calmer, more grounded, less wound up about things in general, gives me distance, makes me nicer to be around I think!” Jan
- Helping you take control of your life
- Through learning to accept you are not your thoughts.
- By recognising negative thoughts are just thoughts, to prevent them spiralling downwards or taking a hold.
- Through greater awareness, and to ‘look at the world with open eyes.’ (Williams and Penman, p.31)
- Through being more autonomous, doing more of what you want to do rather than what others think you should do.
“Grounding (emotionally, spiritually, psychologically), quieter mind, greater ability to step in between events and reactions.” Vicky
- Medical benefits
- Studies show regular meditators spend less time in hospital and visit the doctor less.
- According to Professor Mark Williams, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for people suffering repeated bouts of serious depression, halved the depression of those suffering the worst form and was at least as effective as antidepressant drugs, without the downsides.
- Can help people deal with pain and serious medical conditions and relieve dependency on alcohol and drugs.
- Can reduce stress and high blood pressure and bolster the immune system.
- Can improve the control of blood sugar in type II diabetes (Mindfulness for Health p5)
“Having a way to do a quick check of the body and find the stressed or off balance points is really useful.” Keith
- Improved memory, faster reactions, increase in physical and mental stamina
- Through boosting hardiness and the ability to bounce back and deal with life’s ups and downs.
“Learning to meditate saved me from going under during a very stressful period in my life, money worries, job worries, too much on my plate.” Janet
- Mindfulness may reduce ageing at a cellular level
- Through promoting chromosomal health and resilience
Now that really is something!
It’s great to hear about medical and other benefits of meditation, but what most of us are after is everyday happiness and resilience, experiencing more joy in our lives getting the most out of life.
This is what mindfulness can deliver if we make the small effort to practise it.
Try mindfulness meditation for yourself
If you want to try mindfulness meditation for yourself and start experiencing the benefits there’s 3 ways we can help you.
- Listen for free to the short guided meditation in episode 44
- Download "Meditation Moments: With Breath in Mind" - our guided meditation mp3 which has 6 x 10 minute tracks starting with fully guided and progressing to a timed meditation
- Sign up to Julian’s short course on Udemy – A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation
Resources and links mentioned in episode 47
Thanks to Ange, Craig, Vicky, Rich, Janet, Keith and Melissa, from the Changeability Facebook Group for your insights and quotes.