The Benefits of Meditation: More Than a Quiet Mind
December 23, 2022 9:00 AM EST | 7 min read
The benefits are meditation are plentiful.
Practicing thoughtful awareness of the present moment leads to more than just a quiet mind and a state of inner peace.
The benefits extend to your entire Being: mind, body, and soul, creating a vehicle for achieving full-spectrum health and well-being.
Many benefits of meditation have been scientifically studied and proven true, while others we must experience to understand.
What are the benefits of meditation?
A few benefits of meditation that we rarely think of include::
- Better cognitive health
- Heightened immunity and physical resilience
- Ability to break bad habits and addictions
- Expansion of personal power
These are not all the benefits one might experience from a meditation practice, but they are some of the most widely observed by those who devote time to meditation regularly.
Better cognitive health is a benefit of meditation
Meditation physically changes the structure and function of your brain.
This leads to improved cognitive health.
Several factors determine your cognitive health, like:
- how fast you respond to certain stimuli
- your ability to form and recall memories
- how adaptable your thinking is when faced with new problems or experiences
The neurons (nerve cells) in your brain form a vast highway of connectivity that sends messages and receives information of all sorts.
These pathways depend on what you are thinking or doing.
The physical arrangement of this highway will determine how strong your cognitive function is.
Scientific studies have proven that regular meditation will reorganize the neural highways so that all information flows more efficiently, thus creating more robust cognitive responses.
Specifically, meditation strengthens the connectivity between the parietal lobe and prefrontal cortex.
These two areas of the brain work in tandem with each other to create what we know as your executive function.
Executive function is responsible for learning, concentration, memory, awareness, and adaptable thinking.
This improvement in executive function has many research-backed implications for better cognitive health, including:
- Improving symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults
- Recovery of motor skills in patients with Parkinson’s disease
- Reducing memory loss in aging patients
- Reduction of symptoms of depression
Heightened immunity and physical resilience
One of the great benefits of meditation is that it creates a stronger immune system.
A study published in 2021 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and done by researchers at the University of Florida determined that meditation causes a powerful immune system activation.
Dr. Vijayendran Chandran, Ph.D., assistant professor at the UF College of Medicine, and his colleagues studied the genetic profiles of 106 people before and after a meditation retreat at the Isha Institute of Inner-Sciences in McMinnville, Tennessee, in 2018.
Analysis of the genetic information found that several immune-related cellular pathways were altered after the meditation retreat.
Astonishingly, after the retreat, researchers found increased activity in 220 genes directly related to the immune response.
Included in this heightened activity were 68 genes associated with interferon signaling, an essential part of the body’s anti-virus and anti-cancer responses.
Increasing the body’s ability to launch immune responses against viruses and other illnesses leads to greater resilience as we age.
This creates a stronger, healthier body that effectively maintains youthful functioning as we age.
Ability to Break Bad Habits and Addictions
Addiction is an unwanted but common condition of the human mind.
Our minds are constantly active, and most often, we’re thinking about one of two things: something that happened in the past or anticipating what might happen in the future.
A mind always engaged in activity gets stuck in habitual patterns of thinking, and habitual thinking makes your choices appear limited.
Constant repetitive mind activity decreases your ability to “see” choices that differ from the ones you have made in the past.
One of the many benefits of meditation is that it allows you to refine and expand your awareness to see new possibilities.
Meditation quiets a thinking mind and creates space to view your thoughts without getting caught up in them.
According to ancient meditative traditions, you enter the space between your thoughts by silently witnessing your thoughts.
This place is called Samadhi, which means the domain of unbounded awareness.
This place of unbounded awareness is where you can view all possibilities or choices available to you.
Addictions and unwanted habits are actions we don’t usually even think about.
They’re just something we unconsciously take part in as part of an automatic pattern.
With regular meditation practice, you are training your mind to focus less on individual thoughts and more on the state of expanded awareness where new choices exist.
This heightened awareness allows you to act differently when bad habits or addictions are at play.
Instead of unconsciously carrying out the same familiar pattern, your expanded awareness allows you to consciously choose what you want to do.
Most people want to eliminate addictions or habits that do not serve them.
So, little by little, you can make different choices that allow you to break the bad habits or addictive actions that keep you from living the life you want.
Another benefit of meditation is the expansion of personal power
Meditation expands your consciousness and increases your awareness of all things.
With that increased awareness comes the expansion of personal power.
Personal power is the ability to feel confident, secure, and fulfilled with who you are.
It is the ability to not see yourself as needing to change or be different.
Having personal power means accepting yourself and having the capacity to love yourself unconditionally.
Just as meditation expands our awareness to break bad habits, it also increases our awareness of our true Self.
Your thoughts, how you look, or your level of success in the material world do not define the part of you that is Your true Self.
Often as humans, we identify with our thoughts and believe they make us who we are.
However, that is a falsehood.
Who are we
Thoughts are something that happens to us within our thinking minds.
Who we are is the same as the space between our thoughts, the Samadhi, or unbounded awareness of all possibilities.
This concept might seem difficult to get your head around at first.
The best way to think about it is that your physical body changes as you go through life.
Yet your mental image of yourself remains the same.
Ask any 75-year-old person how old they feel mentally, and typically they will answer somewhere in their middle twenties.
No matter how much our physical bodies change, there is always a part of us that doesn’t change, that isn’t transformed by time or external factors.
This part of us is simply a feeling, and our true Self, or soul, remains constant from the time we are born until we die.
You can start meditating today
The more you meditate, the more connected you become to your unchanging, true Self and identify with it instead of your thoughts.
Adding meditation to your routine is not as hard as it sounds.
You can get started right now (check out this article for tips).
Also, check out these meditation quotes for other perspectives on the benefits of meditation.
Let us know your favorite thing about meditating in the comment section below.
Also, don’t forget to share this article if you found it helpful!