How can meditation help

12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.

The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its many health benefits.

You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.

People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance.

This article reviews 12 health benefits of meditation.

Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.

One review concluded that meditation lives up to its reputation for stress reduction (1).

Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines.

These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.

In an 8-week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress (2).

Furthermore, research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia (3, 4, 5).


Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can likewise reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

Meditation can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety.

A meta-analysis including nearly 1,300 adults found that meditation may decrease anxiety. Notably, this effect was strongest in those with the highest levels of anxiety (6).

Also, one study found that 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation helped reduce anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder, along with increasing positive self-statements and improving stress reactivity and coping (7).

Another study in 47 people with chronic pain found that completing an 8-week meditation program led to noticeable improvements in depression, anxiety, and pain over 1 year (8).

What’s more, some research suggests that a variety of mindfulness and meditation exercises may reduce anxiety levels (9).

For example, yoga has been shown to help people reduce anxiety. This is likely due to benefits from both meditative practice and physical activity (10).

Meditation may also help control job-related anxiety. One study found that employees who used a mindfulness meditation app for 8 weeks experienced improved feelings of well-being and decreased distress and job strain, compared with those in a control group (11).


Habitual meditation can help reduce anxiety and improve stress reactivity and coping skills.

Some forms of meditation can lead to improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life.

For example, one review of treatments given to more than 3,500 adults found that mindfulness meditation improved symptoms of depression (12).

Similarly, a review of 18 studies showed that people receiving meditation therapies experienced reduced symptoms of depression, compared with those in a control group (13).

Another study found that people who completed a meditation exercise experienced fewer negative thoughts in response to viewing negative images, compared with those in a control group (14).

Furthermore, inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response to stress, can affect mood, leading to depression. A review of several studies suggests meditation may also reduce depression by decreasing levels of these inflammatory chemicals (15).


Some forms of meditation can improve depression and reduce negative thoughts. It may also decrease levels of inflammatory cytokines, which could contribute to depression.

Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.

For example, self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you.

Other forms teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns (16, 17, 18).

One review of 27 studies showed that practicing tai chi may be associated with improved self-efficacy, which is a term used to describe a person’s belief in their own capacity or ability to overcome challenges (19).

In another study, 153 adults who used a mindfulness meditation app for 2 weeks experienced reduced feelings of loneliness and increased social contact compared with those in a control group (20).

Additionally, experience in meditation may cultivate more creative problem-solving skills (21).


Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself. ” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.

Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention.

For example, one study found that people who listened to a meditation tape experienced improved attention and accuracy while completing a task, compared with those in a control group (22).

A similar study showed that people who regularly practiced meditation performed better on a visual task and had a greater attention span than those without any meditation experience (23).

Moreover, one review concluded that meditation may even reverse patterns in the brain that contribute to mind-wandering, worrying, and poor attention (24).

Even meditating for a short period each day may benefit you. One study found that meditating for just 13 minutes daily enhanced attention and memory after 8 weeks (25).


Several types of meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention.

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young.

Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus your thoughts. Studies in people with age-related memory loss have shown it improves performance on neuropsychological tests (26).

Furthermore, a review found preliminary evidence that multiple meditation styles can increase attention, memory, and mental quickness in older volunteers (27).

In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can likewise help control stress and improve coping in those caring for family members with dementia (28, 29).


The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may boost your memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.

Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself.

Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends, then acquaintances, and ultimately enemies.

A meta-analysis of 22 studies on this form of meditation demonstrated its ability to increase peoples’ compassion toward themselves and others (30).

One study in 100 adults randomly assigned to a program that included loving-kindness meditation found that these benefits were dose-dependent.

In other words, the more time people spent in weekly metta meditation practice, the more positive feelings they experienced (31).

Another study in 50 college students showed that practicing metta meditation 3 times per week improved positive emotions, interpersonal interactions, and understanding of others after 4 weeks (32).

These benefits also appear to accumulate over time with the practice of loving-kindness meditation (33).


Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy, and compassionate behavior toward others.

The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors (34).

Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention, manage their emotions and impulses, and increase their understanding of the causes behind their (35, 36).

One study in 60 people receiving treatment for alcohol use disorder found that practicing transcendental meditation was associated with lower levels of stress, psychological distress, alcohol cravings, and alcohol use after 3 months (37).

Meditation may also help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating (38).


Meditation develops mental awareness and can help you manage triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, manage unhealthy eating, and redirect other unwanted habits.

Nearly half of the population will struggle with insomnia at some point.

One study compared mindfulness-based meditation programs and found that people who meditated stayed asleep longer and had improved insomnia severity, compared with those who had an unmedicated control condition (39).

Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or runaway thoughts that often lead to insomnia.

Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.


A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control runaway thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions.

Some research suggests that incorporating meditation into your routine could be beneficial for controlling pain.

For example, one review of 38 studies concluded that mindfulness meditation could reduce pain, improve quality of life, and decrease symptoms of depression in people with chronic pain (40).

A large meta-analysis of studies enrolling nearly 3,500 participants concluded that meditation was associated with decreased pain (41).

Meditators and non-meditators experienced the same causes of pain, but meditators showed a greater ability to cope with pain and even experienced a reduced sensation of pain.


Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used to supplement medical care or physical therapy.

Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing strain on the heart.

Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function.

High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or a narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

A meta-analysis of 12 studies enrolling nearly 1000 participants found that meditation helped reduce blood pressure. This was more effective among older volunteers and those who had higher blood pressure prior to the study (42).

One review concluded that several types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure (43).

In part, meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, blood vessel tension, and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations (44).


Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.

People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which don’t require specialized equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes daily.

If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it.

There are two major styles of meditation:

  • Focused-attention meditation. This style concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of distractions. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra, or calming sound.
  • Open-monitoring meditation. This style encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought, and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses.

To find out which styles you like best, check out the variety of free, guided meditation exercises offered by the University of California Los Angeles. It’s an excellent way to try different styles and find one that suits you.

If your regular work and home environments do not allow for consistent, quiet alone time, consider participating in a class. This can also improve your chances of success by providing a supportive community.

Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a consistent habit and allow you to start the day positively.


If you’re interested in incorporating meditation into your routine, try a few different styles and consider guided exercises to get started with one that suits you.

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health.

You can do it anywhere, without special equipment or memberships.

Alternatively, meditation courses and support groups are widely available.

There’s a great variety of styles too, each with different strengths and benefits.

Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.

Meditation and Mindfulness: What You Need To Know

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What are meditation and mindfulness?

Meditation has a history that goes back thousands of years, and many meditative techniques began in Eastern traditions. The term “meditation” refers to a variety of practices that focus on mind and body integration and are used to calm the mind and enhance overall well-being. Some types of meditation involve maintaining mental focus on a particular sensation, such as breathing, a sound, a visual image, or a mantra, which is a repeated word or phrase. Other forms of meditation include the practice of mindfulness, which involves maintaining attention or awareness on the present moment without making judgments.

Programs that teach meditation or mindfulness may combine the practices with other activities. For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction is a program that teaches mindful meditation, but it also includes discussion sessions and other strategies to help people apply what they have learned to stressful experiences. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy integrates mindfulness practices with aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Are meditation and mindfulness practices safe?

Meditation and mindfulness practices usually are considered to have few risks. However, few studies have examined these practices for potentially harmful effects, so it isn’t possible to make definite statements about safety. 

A 2020 review examined 83 studies (a total of 6,703 participants) and found that 55 of those studies reported negative experiences related to meditation practices. The researchers concluded that about 8 percent of participants had a negative effect from practicing meditation, which is similar to the percentage reported for psychological therapies. The most commonly reported negative effects were anxiety and depression. In an analysis limited to 3 studies (521 participants) of mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, investigators found that the mindfulness practices were not more harmful than receiving no treatment.

How popular are meditation and mindfulness?

According to a 2017 U.S. survey, the percentage of adults who practiced some form of mantra-based meditation, mindfulness meditation, or spiritual meditation in the previous 12 months tripled between 2012 and 2017, from 4.1 percent to 14.2 percent. Among children aged 4 to 17 years, the percentage increased from 0.6 percent in 2012 to 5.4 percent in 2017.

Mindfulness programs for schools have become popular. These programs provide mindfulness training with the goal of helping students and educators manage stress and anxiety, resolve conflicts, control impulses, and improve resilience, memory, and concentration. The mindfulness practices and training methods used in these programs vary widely. Studies on the effectiveness of school-based mindfulness programs have had small sample sizes and been of varying quality.

Why do people practice mindfulness meditation?

In a 2012 U.S. survey, 1.9 percent of 34,525 adults reported that they had practiced mindfulness meditation in the past 12 months. Among those responders who practiced mindfulness meditation exclusively, 73 percent reported that they meditated for their general wellness and to prevent diseases, and most of them (approximately 92 percent) reported that they meditated to relax or reduce stress. In more than half of the responses, a desire for better sleep was a reason for practicing mindfulness meditation.

What are the health benefits of meditation and mindfulness?

Meditation and mindfulness practices may have a variety of health benefits and may help people improve the quality of their lives. Recent studies have investigated if meditation or mindfulness helps people manage anxiety, stress, depression, pain, or symptoms related to withdrawal from nicotine, alcohol, or opioids. 

Other studies have looked at the effects of meditation or mindfulness on weight control or sleep quality.  

However, much of the research on these topics has been preliminary or not scientifically rigorous. Because the studies examined many different types of meditation and mindfulness practices, and the effects of those practices are hard to measure, results from the studies have been difficult to analyze and may have been interpreted too optimistically.

Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

  • A 2018 NCCIH-supported analysis of 142 groups of participants with diagnosed psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression examined mindfulness meditation approaches compared with no treatment and with established evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressant medications. The analysis included more than 12,000 participants, and the researchers found that for treating anxiety and depression, mindfulness-based approaches were better than no treatment at all, and they worked as well as the evidence-based therapies.
  • A 2021 analysis of 23 studies (1,815 participants) examined mindfulness-based practices used as treatment for adults with diagnosed anxiety disorders. The studies included in the analysis compared the mindfulness-based interventions (alone or in combination with usual treatments) with other treatments such cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and relaxation. The analysis showed mixed results for the short-term effectiveness of the different mindfulness-based approaches. Overall, they were more effective than the usual treatments at reducing the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms, but only some types of mindfulness approaches were as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy. However, these results should be interpreted with caution because the risk of bias for all of the studies was unclear. Also, the few studies that followed up with participants for periods longer than 2 months found no long-term effects of the mindfulness-based practices.
  • A 2019 analysis of 23 studies that included a total of 1,373 college and university students looked at the effects of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation practices on symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Although the results showed that all the practices had some effect, most of the studies included in the review were of poor quality and had a high risk of bias.

High Blood Pressure

Few high-quality studies have examined the effects of meditation and mindfulness on blood pressure. According to a 2017 statement from the American Heart Association, the practice of meditation may have a possible benefit, but its specific effects on blood pressure have not been determined.

  • A 2020 review of 14 studies (including more than 1,100 participants) examined the effects of mindfulness practices on the blood pressure of people who had health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or cancer. The analysis showed that for people with these health conditions, practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with a significant reduction in blood pressure.

Studies examining the effects of mindfulness or meditation on acute and chronic pain have produced mixed results.

  • A 2020 report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that mindfulness-based stress reduction was associated with short-term (less than 6 months) improvement in low-back pain but not fibromyalgia pain.
  • A 2020 NCCIH-supported analysis of five studies of adults using opioids for acute or chronic pain (with a total of 514 participants) found that meditation practices were strongly associated with pain reduction.
  • Acute pain, such as pain from surgery, traumatic injuries, or childbirth, occurs suddenly and lasts only a short time. A 2020 analysis of 19 studies examined the effects of mindfulness-based therapies for acute pain and found no evidence of reduced pain severity. However, the same analysis found some evidence that the therapies could improve a person’s tolerance for pain.
  • A 2017 analysis of 30 studies (2,561 participants) found that mindfulness meditation was more effective at decreasing chronic pain than several other forms of treatment. However, the studies examined were of low quality.
  • A 2019 comparison of treatments for chronic pain did an overall analysis of 11 studies (697 participants) that evaluated cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the usual psychological intervention for chronic pain; 4 studies (280 participants) that evaluated mindfulness-based stress reduction; and 1 study (341 participants) of both therapies. The comparison found that both approaches were more effective at reducing pain intensity than no treatment, but there was no evidence of any important difference between the two approaches.
  • A 2019 review found that mindfulness-based approaches did not reduce the frequency, length, or pain intensity of headaches. However, the authors of this review noted that their results are likely imprecise because only five studies (a total of 185 participants) were included in the analysis, and any conclusions made from the analysis should be considered preliminary.

Insomnia and Sleep Quality

Mindfulness meditation practices may help reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality.

  • A 2019 analysis of 18 studies (1,654 total participants) found that mindfulness meditation practices improved sleep quality more than education-based treatments. However, the effects of mindfulness meditation approaches on sleep quality were no different than those of evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise.

Substance Use Disorder

Several clinical trials have investigated if mindfulness-based approaches such as mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) might help people recover from substance use disorders. These approaches have been used to help people increase their awareness of the thoughts and feelings that trigger cravings and learn ways to reduce their automatic reactions to those cravings.

  • A 2018 review of 37 studies (3,531 total participants) evaluated the effectiveness of several mindfulness-based approaches to substance use disorder treatment and found that they significantly decreased participants’ craving levels. The mindfulness-based practices were slightly better than other therapies at promoting abstinence from substance use.
  • A 2017 analysis specifically focused on MBRP examined 9 studies (901 total participants) of this approach. The analysis concluded that MBRP was not more effective at preventing substance use relapses than other treatments such as health education and cognitive behavioral therapy. However, MBRP did slightly reduce cravings and symptoms of withdrawal associated with alcohol use disorders.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Studies have suggested that meditation and mindfulness may help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • A 2018 review supported by NCCIH examined the effects of meditation (in 2 studies, 179 total participants) and other mindfulness-based practices (in 6 studies, 332 total participants) on symptoms of PTSD. Study participants included veterans, nurses, and people who experienced interpersonal violence. Six of the eight studies reported that participants had a reduction of PTSD symptoms after receiving some form of mindfulness-based treatment.
  • A 2018 clinical trial funded by the U.S. Department of Defense compared the effectiveness of meditation, health education, and prolonged exposure therapy, a widely accepted treatment for PTSD recommended by the American Psychological Association. Prolonged exposure therapy helps people reduce their PTSD symptoms by teaching them to gradually remember traumatic memories, feelings, and situations. The study included 203 veterans with PTSD as a result of their active military service. The results of the study showed that meditation was as effective as prolonged exposure therapy at reducing PTSD symptoms and depression, and it was more effective than PTSD health education. The veterans who used meditation also showed improvement in mood and overall quality of life.


Mindfulness-based approaches may improve the mental health of people with cancer.

  • A 2019 analysis of 29 studies (3,274 total participants) of mindfulness-based practices showed that use of mindfulness practices among people with cancer significantly reduced psychological distress, fatigue, sleep disturbance, pain, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, most of the participants were women with breast cancer, so the effects may not be similar for other populations or other types of cancer.

Weight Control and Eating Behavior

Studies have suggested possible benefits of meditation and mindfulness programs for losing weight and managing eating behaviors.

  • A 2017 review of 15 studies (560 total participants) looked at the effects of mindfulness-based practices on the mental and physical health of adults with obesity or who were overweight. The review found that these practices were very effective methods for managing eating behaviors but less effective at helping people lose weight. Mindfulness-based approaches also helped participants manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • A 2018 analysis of 19 studies (1,160 total participants) found that mindfulness programs helped people lose weight and manage eating-related behaviors such as binge, emotional, and restrained eating. The results of the analysis showed that treatment programs, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, that combine formal meditation and mindfulness practices with informal mindfulness exercises were especially effective methods for losing weight and managing eating.

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Several studies have been done on using meditation and mindfulness practices to improve symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, the studies have not been of high quality and the results have been mixed, so evidence that meditation or mindfulness approaches will help people manage symptoms of ADHD is not conclusive.

How do meditation and mindfulness work?

Some research suggests that meditation and mindfulness practices may affect the functioning or structure of the brain. Studies have used various methods of measuring brain activity to look for measurable differences in the brains of people engaged in mindfulness-based practices. Other studies have theorized that training in meditation and mindfulness practices can change brain activity. However, the results of these studies are difficult to interpret, and the practical implications are not clear.

NCCIH-Funded Research

NCCIH supports a variety of meditation and mindfulness studies, including:

  • An evaluation of how the brain responds to the use of mindfulness meditation as part of a combined treatment for migraine pain.
  • A study of the effectiveness of mindfulness therapy and medication (buprenorphine) as a treatment for opioid use disorder.
  • A study of a mindfulness training program designed to help law enforcement officers improve their mental health by managing stress and increasing resilience.

Tips To Consider

  • Don’t use meditation or mindfulness to replace conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a medical problem.
  • Ask about the training and experience of the instructor of the meditation or mindfulness practice you are considering.
  • Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions

NCCIH Clearinghouse

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Know the Science

NCCIH and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide tools to help you understand the basics and terminology of scientific research so you can make well-informed decisions about your health. Know the Science features a variety of materials, including interactive modules, quizzes, and videos, as well as links to informative content from Federal resources designed to help consumers make sense of health information.

Explaining How Research Works (NIH)

Know the Science: 9 Questions To Help You Make Sense of Health Research

Understanding Clinical Studies (NIH)


A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.

Website: https://pubmed.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a website, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.


Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures & Results (RePORTER)

RePORTER is a database of information on federally funded scientific and medical research projects being conducted at research institutions.


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Thanks to Elizabeth Ginexi, Ph.D., Erin Burke Quinlan, Ph.D., and David Shurtleff, Ph.D., NCCIH, for their review of this 2022 publication.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: June 2022

The Benefits of Meditation: How to Harness the Power of Meditation

The practice of meditation has been around for thousands of years, and research continues to uncover a wide range of benefits from meditation. Meditation can positively impact many aspects of health, including mental, physical, and emotional health. Whether you have experience with meditation or are just starting out, meditation can bring many benefits to your mental and physical health. Consistent meditation practice can lead to real and lasting positive changes.


One of the benefits of meditation is improved concentration and attention. Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation aimed at becoming aware and acknowledging your inner thoughts while staying in the present moment. The practice of mindfulness meditation increases awareness of inner thoughts and improves the ability to reduce wandering and distracting thoughts. Controlling distracting thoughts improves the ability to focus on a task. Meditation can also help increase focus and mental discipline.

There is evidence that regular practice of meditation can lead to physical changes in the brain that have cognitive benefits. Regular practice of meditation can increase the volume of gray matter in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. Research has also shown that it positively affects the posterior cingulate region of the brain, which is an important part of learning and cognition, and the frontal cortex, which is responsible for memory and decision making.


The consistent practice of meditation increases your ability to recognize and understand inner thoughts and, as a result, enhances self-awareness. Deeper self-awareness and understanding of thoughts can help increase feelings of compassion and kindness. Mindfulness training can also help a person communicate their thoughts and feelings to others, which can help improve interpersonal relationships.

One style of meditation called love-kindness meditation or "metta" focuses on developing positive thinking, compassion, inner and outer empathy. Meditation can help increase positive emotions, reduce negative thoughts about yourself and others, and build resilience. Practicing love-kindness meditation can also help in self-acceptance and self-knowledge. Love-kindness meditation can help develop and maintain positive relationships. In general, meditation can improve overall emotional well-being.


Meditation can be helpful in reducing psychological stress and anxiety. Many different styles and styles of meditation can help manage stress and anxiety, including progressive relaxation, breathwork, mindfulness-based meditation, and transcendental meditation. Mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation focuses on relaxing both the mind and body. It promotes understanding of inner thoughts and focuses attention on the present moment.

Transcendental Meditation can lower the levels of certain hormones in the body, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These hormones are associated with increased levels of stress because they activate the sympathetic nervous system or the fight-or-flight response. Meditation reduces the response of the sympathetic nervous system and can lower your heart rate and slow your breathing.

Mindfulness meditation techniques are also used as a treatment in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones and to develop positive coping strategies. This theory, combined with mindfulness training, which aims to be aware of one's thoughts, can help reduce anxiety and negative thoughts and aid in the development of positive coping skills. Mindfulness training may have other mental health benefits, as there is evidence that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is beneficial for people with depression. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy can help people with depression by reformulating negative thought patterns.


Many people turn to meditation to cope with insomnia or improve the quality of sleep. Many people experience sleep disturbances due to high levels of stress and wandering thoughts before falling asleep. Meditation can effectively reduce stress levels and achieve a more relaxed state, both physical and mental.

One meditation technique that can help a person relax their body is progressive relaxation. Progressive relaxation involves tensing and then relaxing the muscles of the body, one muscle group at a time, moving up or down the body. As the muscles tense and then relax, the body becomes more relaxed and ready for sleep. A body scan is a similar technique in which a person visualizes areas of tension in the body and uses focused breathing to release tension from those areas.

Breathing techniques can be used to slow breathing and lower the heart rate. Mindfulness meditation can help you fall asleep as it eases the mind by acknowledging wandering thoughts and then focusing them on the breath and feelings. This technique focuses the mind on the present and reduces the number of disturbing thoughts. These meditation techniques help to relax the mind and body in order to better prepare for falling asleep.



Some people who experience chronic pain turn to meditation to reduce or help manage their pain. There is evidence that meditation and mindfulness practice can change certain structures and pathways in the brain, resulting in decreased sensitivity to pain. Meditation also trains the mind for better sensory processing of pain. One study found that meditation practiced along with yoga reduced white blood cell inflammation in the body, which is similar to the physical pain reduction used in pain medications such as ibuprofen. Another study found that meditation reduced amygdala activity associated with anticipation of pain. Changes in the dorsal anterior cingulate and somatosensory cortex also reduce pain sensitivity.

Meditation is helpful for people with chronic pain to reduce the anxiety and stress associated with pain. Mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety associated with pain and focus the mind on the present moment. Meditation techniques such as progressive relaxation can also help release the tension that has accumulated in the body due to pain. The practice of meditation can also help in enhancing positive emotions and developing positive coping mechanisms for those experiencing chronic pain.


One of the many health benefits of meditation is improved heart health. Research shows that meditation can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. More specifically, the practice of transcendental meditation or mantra meditation, which involves silently repeating mantras to achieve a relaxed and still state, is effective in lowering blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure and heart rate can reduce the chance of developing heart disease. In addition, people diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease can also benefit from meditation to maintain their cardiovascular health. Meditative practice can also help increase other heart-healthy habits such as quality sleep, physical activity, and a balanced diet, as meditation reduces stress and increases positive thinking and motivation.


Meditation can benefit physical health by improving the body's immune system. The practice of meditation can increase the levels and function of immune-specific cells such as T cells, as well as anti-inflammatory proteins and antibodies. An increased immune system response means the body is better able to fight off infections. In addition, meditation can improve the quality of sleep, reduce stress levels and increase positive emotions, which positively affects the immune system response.


Meditative practice can benefit those who experience digestive health problems such as Chron's disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Meditation has been shown to help reduce some of the symptoms of these diseases, including fatigue and stomach pain. As mentioned earlier, meditation can help manage pain and improve sleep quality. Meditation can also help reduce the stress and anxiety that make the condition worse. The digestive system is linked to the mind and the level of stress and anxiety in the body. Therefore, reducing stress and anxiety through meditation practice can be helpful in improving the overall health of the digestive system.



There are many sources on various meditation techniques, including

  • Books
  • Guided Audio Meditation
  • Guided Video Meditation
  • Online and face-to-face meditation courses
  • Mindfulness Meditation Application


There is no exact time frame, although 10 minutes is recommended as the minimum duration to achieve the benefits of meditation. Meditation practice can last from 15 minutes to half an hour. Consistency is the most important thing in meditation. The regular practice of meditation is more important than the duration of each meditation.


Meditation can be started at any age. Starting the practice of meditation as a child can be helpful. At an early age, children often start practicing techniques such as breathing and progressive relaxation.


Meditation does not require a specific place. It is important to be in a comfortable position and in an environment with a minimum of distractions. Most people sit, but there are options to lie down or even walk.

Resources for Anaachan Meditation

Meditational Wiki

Meditation for chakras

Meditation techniques

Meditation of body scan

Management of anxiety

Meditation Sleep

Mind-Body Connection

Gratitude Meditation

Anxiety Meditation 9Ol000

Gifts for meditation

Benefits of meditation

What is meditation?

What is awareness?

Meditation Apps

Meditation for Beginners


How Meditation Can Help Manage Illness | Everyday Health

Calming the Nerves and Heart with Meditation - The Science in the News

What is Love-Kindness Meditation? (Including 4 scripts + video)

How to Meditate Before Sleep: Improve Sleep and Fight Insomnia.

How to Meditate - Guides - The New York Times

How long should you meditate? And how often?

Five Ways Mindfulness Meditation Benefits Your Health

Transcendental Meditation: Benefits, Techniques, and More

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Definition, Methods, and Effectiveness

Mindfulness Meditation Can Relieve Anxiety and Mental Stress - Harvard Health

Meditation for Pain Relief: What You Need to Know and How to Try

Meditation: In depth | NCCIH

How Meditation Changes the Brain

12 Evidence-Based Benefits of Meditation

Harvard Researchers Explore How Mindfulness Can Change the Brain in Depressed Patients

The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness Practices During Crises Like COVID-19 | Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine | Cambridge Core

Neurological Evidence for the Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness and Pain Control | American Journal of Psychiatry Residents' Journal Med

How to change your life through meditation: scientific arguments and practice


© Darius Bashar/Unsplash

Author Ekaterina Tikhonova

May 21, 2021

Studies have shown that regular meditation has a direct impact on happiness, helps to stay in good shape and cope with stress. Understanding how meditation is scientifically useful and how to approach it

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Buddha, the Brain and the Neurophysiology of Happiness, is one of the popularizers of Tibetan meditation. For many years he has been involved in brain research during meditation, finding more and more evidence of its usefulness for each of us. Here's what we know about it so far.

Meditation is various psycho-physiological practices (religious or healing) that allow you to make your consciousness clearer, understand yourself and control your mind. Depending on the technique, meditations are based on concentration and/or willpower. Initially, the practice of meditation came from Hinduism. It occupies an important place in yoga. Today, however, meditation is increasingly spoken of without an esoteric component - as a means to train your mind and become calmer.

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There are over 3,000 scientific studies on the benefits of meditation. They involved both Buddhist monks who have devoted thousands of hours to meditation, and beginners who practice meditation for 15 minutes a day. The results recorded positive changes in most of the subjects. And here are some.

  • Stress reduction

For this, people usually begin to meditate. A study of 3,500 adults showed it worked. When our bodies are exposed to sudden stress or threat, the brain responds with a fight-or-flight response. It is caused by a surge in the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which leads to sleep disturbance, depression and anxiety, increased blood pressure, fatigue and confusion. Meditation gives you the opportunity to step back, recognize stress and choose how to respond to it. For example, it could be a regular relaxation practice that allows you to act rationally even under stress.

  • Anxiety control

There is an area in our brain responsible for fear. This is the amygdala, called the amygdala, which works like an alarm, looking for sources of danger around. She kept the ancient man alive by catching rustles in the forest or aggressive fellow tribesmen. For a modern person, it often works as a "false call", awakening unreasonable anxiety. Research has shown that amygdala activity decreases when a person is in a meditative state. These data were obtained both in experiments with people without experience in meditation, and in trials with both healthy people and those suffering from chronic anxiety. The effect is comparable to the action of drugs, but does not cause side effects. Regular practice reprograms the fear center, reduces anxiety and symptoms of anxiety disorders and panic attacks.

© Manuel Breva Colmeiro/Getty Images

  • Emotional recovery

Our brain tends to emotionally color or "stick" to situations and problems. For example, if a person has troubles at work, he can transfer them to family life. Conversely, troubles in personal life can be reflected in work. Meditators have the ability to not "stick". To see an emotion, a problem, to realize it and not fall into a trap.

Scientists attribute this to a decrease in the production of substances called cytokines. They are released in response to stress, affect mood and often cause depression. In the brains of those who practice meditation, connections appear that increase empathy and the ability to rationally assess problems.

Research shows that meditation is as effective as antidepressants! Therefore, for people suffering from depression, it is increasingly being prescribed as an alternative to drug treatment.

  • Raising awareness

Already in the eighth week of regular meditation, practitioners form their "unique brain" with well-developed areas. These areas are primarily associated with awareness and memory. Scientists are seeing an increase in the thickness of the hippocampus, which increases the brain's ability to learn and remember new material, as well as regulate its emotions. It used to be thought that mindfulness is the effect of long reflection and concentration on oneself. It is now clear that during meditation there are physical changes in the brain that help develop this skill.

  • Increasing mindfulness

Problems with concentration are not only found in children, attention deficit disorder has been diagnosed in millions of adults. One of the main benefits of meditation is improved focus and concentration. Like sports training, daily meditation increases the power and endurance of attention. Two weeks of practice has been found to increase attention scores by 16%. Thanks to meditation, cognitive skills at work quickly develop - and we better concentrate on the tasks at hand.

  • Prevention of brain aging

Lost my keys, can't remember my name, can't solve a simple math problem - as we get closer to middle age, we face more and more problems like this. The decrease in mental abilities is associated with the loss of volumes of gray matter - brain neurons responsible for memory and learning. This is called cognitive decline associated with aging. For many years, scientists thought this decline was inevitable, but research over the past two decades has shown that the adult brain changes throughout life. This is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity.

Regular meditation increases the neuroplasticity of the brain, maintains and even increases the concentration of gray matter. The brains of people over the age of 50, who constantly practice meditation, “look” seven years younger.

© fizkes/shutterstock

  • Sleep Improvement

Meditation helps to relax and not dwell on thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep. This practice activates the area of ​​the brain responsible for the transition to deep sleep. Thanks to it, we fall asleep faster and get better quality sleep. When the sleep characteristics of the two groups were compared (one practiced meditation, the other did not), it became clear that the participants who meditated fell asleep faster, their sleep was deeper and longer compared to those who did not meditate.

  • Pain control

Meditation reduces the perception of pain in the brain. It complements medical treatment of chronic pain or physiotherapy. Research confirms that mindfulness calms the brain centers responsible for pain, and over time, these changes take root and change the structure of the brain itself in such a way that patients no longer feel pain as intensely as they used to. Polls show that they stop noticing it.

Clinics prescribe meditation to help patients cope with the pain of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also used to relieve migraines, chronic fatigue, and even multiple sclerosis.

Most researchers agree that eight weeks of daily sessions of 10-12 minutes is enough to feel the positive effects of meditation. Experienced practitioners recommend meditating in the morning or immediately after waking up, when the brain is not yet preoccupied with solving a large number of problems.

It is not necessary to meditate while sitting at home. A simple breathing practice is available anytime, anywhere. Focusing on the breath is the most common approach to meditation. The main thing is to focus on the process of inhalation and exhalation. If thoughts and emotions come during practice, there is no need to block them. Look at them from the side, like a boat passing you on a river, and continue to focus on your breath.