10 biggest benefits of daily meditation practice
July 22, 2014
Benefits count, don’t they? Otherwise, why would all these millions of people waste twenty minutes twice a day, sitting with their eyes closed and doing nothing useful?
So, as counting goes, here is an overview of arguably the ten most important positive effects which result from regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.
All the benefits listed here are proven by scientific studies. Click on the links to see the specific studies and research!
1. Stress relief
Overcoming stress could well be THE main benefit of regular Transcendental Meditation practice.
As scientists are finding out from so many angles — stress is the root cause of almost all the other mind-body ailments and dysfunctions!
Research conducted with students, with people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or with employees confirms beyond doubt that TM provides deep relaxation and rest for the body and mind. Its main effects in terms of stress relief are:
- balancing the nervous system activation,
- balancing hormonal levels,
- increasing brain coherence.
As a result, our body and mind no longer overreact to stressful situations.
2. Higher work efficiency
Research has been conducted both in smaller and in bigger companies.
Across the board, regular TM meditators improve significantly (3 months into practice) on such crucial measures as:
- leadership abilities,
- job satisfaction,
- professional relationships,
- physiological settledness and stability during mental task performance (measured by skin conductance levels),
- status of general health.
3. Better school performance
Numerous studies with students at all levels of their educational path (primary school, middle school, college, universities etc) demonstrate that TM meditation practice:
- increases general intellectual and cognitive performance,
- has positive impact on academic test results,
- reduces negative school behaviour (absenteeism, infractions),
- reduces school-related stress, anxiety and depression.
4. Healthy blood pressure
Numerous studies confirm that Transcendental Meditation reduces blood pressure.
Controlled trials show that it leads to lower blood pressure in
- people with hypertension,
- people with heart disease,
- old and young,
- under stress and at rest.
For instance, one ontrolled study of individuals over 55 years of age with hypertension showed that people practicing TM lived longer. Their rate of mortality related to elevated blood pressure decreased by 30%.
Following a thorough review of research from 2006-2001, a scientific statement by the American Heart Association therefore recommends that TM may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
5. Lower risk of heart disease
As lowering blood pressure is often one of the main targets in heart disease prevention / treatment, then TM practice provides a vital advantage here.
Scientific research has shown that Transcendental Meditation helps people with various cardiovascular conditions such as
- metabolic syndrome,
- congestive heart failure,
- myocardial ischemia,
- left ventricular hypertrophy.
A recent 5-year longitudinal study by the AHA demonstrated that patients meditating regularly were 48 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or die than men and women with similar physical conditions.
6. Quitting smoking
TM meditation includes no demand or request to quit smoking. However, scientific studies show quitting smoking comes naturally with this practice.
The effect on smokers seems to be cumulative – the more stress reduction is achieved through meditation, the greater is the freedom from nicotine.
According to one study, quitting rate for TM practitioners is 50% 2 years into daily meditation.
All in all, meta-analysis of studies on different programs indicate that the effect on smoking reduction is 2-5 times larger in the case of TM than with programs specifically designed for quitting smoking.
7. Alcoholism treatment
Among other things improving the practitioner’s quality of life, Transcendental Meditation helps fight alcohol addiction.
Meta-analysis of scientific studies on different treatments show that the effect of TM on reducing alcohol consumption is 1,5 to 8 times larger than that of other programs (including relaxation programs, programs to resist peer pressure, driving-under-the-influence interventions, other prevention programs combined).
Rates of abstinence for TM practitioners can be as high as 70% (18 months into meditation).
Besides quitting drinking, research shows that TM also supports the emotional well-being of recovering alcoholics. Positive results come even from studies including chronic alcoholics with little social or financial support.
8. Hyperactivity (ADHD) treatment
Almost every tenth person in the population has been or will be suffering from hyperactivity. According to research, 3 months of Transcendental Meditation practice results in
- improvements in brain function measures associated with hyperactivity symptoms,
- improvements in five ADHD-symptoms:
(1) ability to focus on schoolwork,
(2) organizational abilities,
(3) ability to work independently,
(5) quality of sleep.
9. Healthy relationships
Correlation between regular TM practice and healthy, harmonious relationships has been observed both at home and at work environments.
For example, a study used Locke’s Marital Adjustment inventory to compare women who practiced Transcendental Meditation with matched controls on the measure of marital satisfaction.
Subjects in the TM meditation group reported significantly greater marital satisfaction than controls.
10. Improved intelligence
Last but definitelty not least, meditating has been shown to improve intelligence!
Scientific research has found that meditators’ test scores will improve in the following areas:
- ability to successfully reason in new situations,
- speed of information processing,
- ability to achieve and maintain success in work, love, social relationships,
- a cluster of traits including cognitive functioning, personality and social behaviour,
- balanced use of cognitive, affective and volitional domains (traits like comprehension, analysis, curiosity, unconventionality, synthesis, and risk calculation).
Research and scientific basis
In terms of these results described above, there is no need to rely on good guesses or on keeping your fingers crossed. It works, it works, and it works – as proven by the most cutting-edge, rigorous research the modern science can offer.
The TM technique relies on a subtle effect of sound in bringing your mind-body system to a physiological state of deep relaxation.
And as confirmed by science, this state of alert restfulness leads – through lower breathing rate, decreased stress hormone concentration and increased brain coherence – to an overall improvement in your physical and mental condition.
If you are interested in the specifics of research, then do not hesitate to follow the links. Loads of references, data graphs and full texts of academic papers waiting to be discovered!