The progression in science has been able to explain some mysteries that we always knew about we just didn’t know how they worked. One of those things is meditation. People have been practicing this for centuries; surely there is a reason. So what does science say about how meditation works?
What Is Meditation
You may have seen people in movies sitting with their legs crossed and their eyes closed. But what are they doing in their head that makes this process beneficial? Meditation can be defined as thoughtless awareness. It is a balance between your mind being alert but also calm and quiet. With enough practice, you can meditate doing certain tasks. But what is it about meditation that makes it so great and such a staple in many different religions? This is where the science comes in.
Why You Should Meditate According To Science
Increase Immune Functions
One study suggests that doing a short program with mindful meditation changes the way the brain works in a way that improves the immune system. They found that increased the number of antibodies present, which is what helps fight foreign invaders of the body.
While some studies suggest that meditation helps to relieve stress, a particular study has noticed that this has a snowball effect on the immune system. In this study, compassion meditation showed to reduce stress-induced immune response.
Mind over matter, right? Tell that to someone who has lupus or fibromyalgia. They can’t just will their pain away; they have to deal with it every second. But the reason we feel any type of pain is because our brain tells us to. Whether it is from an autoimmune disease or a paper cut. Studies show that meditation activates certain regions of the brain suggesting that it can help reduce your sensitivity to pain.
Inflammation and immunity go hand in hand, so if meditation boosts your immune system does that mean that inflammation will be more of a problem? Studies say no. One study suggests that mindful meditation can help with chronic inflammation by reducing emotional reactivity that can cause it.
Increase Positive Emotions
Being positive isn’t easy. With social media reminding you every day about a new thing to be outraged by and the social climate in the real world, it can be tough. But emptying your mind and meditating may be able to help you pull through the other side with a smile. A study has suggested that meditation has an ability to enhance your empathy skills and makes changes to the brain that are associated with emotional regulation.
Depression is on the rise, especially in our youth. Many of the people who suffer from depression don’t get the care that they need, and when they do, sometimes it doesn’t work. While depression is a serious condition that involves changes in the brain, medication alone may not be the best way to conquer it. Studies have shown that meditation may be able to do some of the heavy lifting.
A study has suggested that mindful meditation may be able to help with depression by changing the way you think. It has shown to help with ruminating thoughts as well as dysfunctional beliefs. This study also discusses how it can help with other issues that are common with depression like binge eating, stress, and drug abuse.
It seems like anxiety is a popular issue that everyone is dealing with. Whether it is everyday anxieties that slowly take a toll on your health or full-blown disorders that make everyday living difficult, anxiety is ever so present in our society. While taking medication can help relieve you, meditation may be able to make changes in the brain that could make you less dependent on anxiety medication.
Studies have long discussed how meditation can help with stress; this has become a no-brainer. With the ability to scan people’s brains, we now know why this happens. Mindful meditation has shown to reduce the activity of the amygdala, which is where our stress comes from. The kicker here is that studies have shown that these changes in the brain are also apparent when the participants aren’t in a meditative state, showing that meditation can help people with their anxiety throughout the day.
Boosts Social Connection
If you are depressed, anxious, or constantly in pain, you may find that you aren’t inviting yourself to any parties. Being around people can be exhausting when you aren’t in a healthy mindset. But meditation may be able to help.
A study conducted on loving-kindness meditation showed that participants had an increase in positive emotions. This positive change helped create positive social interactions as well as making social isolation less likely.
Compassion is something we could all use a little of, giving and receiving. While compassion isn’t something that grows on trees, research has indicated that it is something that can be achieved through training. During a study where participants did meditation, they found that their level of compassion increased after the exercises both during and after the exercise.
Improves Ability To Regulate Emotions
People who have mood disorders like BPD, depression, or general anxiety have problems regulating their emotions. Some people have a hard time because their emotions are much stronger than the average person. Through meditation, however, studies suggest that you can get a better handle on your emotions helping to improve your quality of life.
Increase In Grey Matter
Grey matter is where all your brain’s synapses are and where it processes information. Having more brain matter can make you smarter. Researchers looked at images of brains belonging to people who meditate, and they found a significant difference in the volume of grey matter in certain areas of the brain. The main parts of the brain that were affected are a part of the limbic system, which may also explain why meditation helps you have so much control over your emotions.
Increase Attention And Focus
In a world of screens and triple tasking, a lot of people have a hard time with attention and focus. People who have ADD or ADHD are especially struggling in this area. Doing meditation may be able to make concentration easier for you.
Researchers believe that because meditation requires focus, it enhances your ability to do so on and off the meditation field. In a study, they found that the people who participated in meditation were better at holding attention during tasks. Studies also show that meditation helps to improve the way your brain communicates with itself, helping to reduce your vulnerability to distractions.
How Do You Meditate?
You may be convinced that you need to give this meditation thing a try. After all, it is free to do, and research has suggested that it can benefit your mental and physical health. But at a glance, it just looks like you sit there and think about your breathing when this isn’t always the case. There are many different types of meditation routines you can try, each of them having their own way to help you get you where you need to be. But all of them have the same core concepts when it comes to doing the exercises.
A Comfortable And Quiet Place
You will have a hard time focusing with noisy distractions. You might also start to become distracted by discomfort if you aren’t in a comfortable position or place, making the meditation harder to accomplish. While some meditations require movements, there are other exercises you can do sitting in a comfy chair or lying down on a mat or your bed.
Focus And Attention
A meditation exercise will require you to settle your mind and have somewhere to focus. This focus is what helps you free your mind of your thoughts and worries because everytime you start to wonder, you can pull yourself back to what you need to have your attention on. It may be a flickering flame, the space in between breathes, or chanting words.
Try A Guide
When first starting your meditation, try using guided meditation. If you see a therapist, they are the perfect person to talk with to find someone who can help guide you through a mediation that can be beneficial for you. You can also find resources online like videos that talk you through it. Some can last for over an hour while others only take roughly ten minutes.
When Meditation Is Too Hard
For someone with anxiety, this might seem like a total joke. If you had the ability to clear your mind, you probably wouldn’t be needing meditation, right? When you are in pain, that is usually the only thing you can focus on especially in a quiet room by yourself. But don’t fret, taking CBD oil may be able to help you meditate.
How CBD Can Help With Meditation
Cannabidiol (CBD) may be able to help with meditation by relieving you of certain symptoms that make the exercises difficult. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system, CBD hemp oil has the potential to help regulate your mind and body to make meditation an easier task.
CBD oil has shown in studies that it can reduce the overactivity in the brain, helping people with focus, concentration, and anxiety. If you have a hard time clearing your mind to meditate, CBD oil may be able to help.
CBD hemp oil can also help with pain. If you have a spot that has been digging at you and you can’t stop thinking about it, using a CBD topical on the area can help numb the pain. CBD can do this because it elevates an endocannabinoid called anandamide which binds to the CB1 receptors effectively reducing your sensitivity to pain.
If you want to add CBD oil to your meditation exercises, talk to a doctor about it first. They can help you determine if it will interact with any medication your on as well as help monitor you for side effects like they would any other medication.