Meditation. Its benefits: what we know in 2022
During the past two decades, we’ve discovered the beneficial impacts of mindfulness meditation.
But the science behind mindfulness meditation has often suffered from poor study designs, lack of funding, and small effect sizes. As a result, there is still a lot we don’t understand about mindfulness meditation effects, and how it works.
What we know about the 3 main benefits of mindfulness meditation in 2022
Mindfulness meditation affects positively neuroplasticity by creating new connecting wiring circuits between the emotional mind to the analytic/focusing mind.
Therefore attention and ability to focus better are enhanced, often lasting up to5 years after stopping the practice.
The ability to solve problems is also enhanced.
Decreases mind wandering including ongoing thoughts and feelings.
Wandering is our default mental mode. Meditation reduced the frequency and duration of mind wandering. Better attention to the present moment is the consequence of it.
However, we need larger randomized controlled trials to understand how meditation might mix with other treatments to help both kids and adults in managing attention deficit disorders.
Increases resilience to stress.
As mentioned already and according to neuroscience research, mindfulness practices dampen activity in our amygdala (emotional hub) and increase the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (analysis, focus, reason.) Both parts of the brain help us to be less reactive to stressors and, therefore, to recover better from stress
Also, the cortisol level (stress hormone) is lower among people who meditate.
Increases empathy, compassion, and caring for self, and others.
Many well-designed studies have shown that practicing loving-kindness meditation for others increases our willingness to take action to relieve suffering on self and on others.
It appears to do this by:
Lessening amygdala-based emotional activity in the presence of suffering.
Activating circuits in the brain that are connected to good feelings and love thru dopamine
the “feel good” neurotransmitter
May improve our well-being: but not necessarily better than other therapies.
May have a positive impact on our relationships.
There are many studies that find a positive link between mindfulness and relationship quality, which is probably a by-product of the effects we’ve already described such s loving-kindness, patience, and a non-judgmental attitude.
The data suggest that mindfulness practice seemed to activate the parts of the brain involved in empathy and emotional regulation. An interesting point here: children of parents who meditate have shown the greatest improvement in their relationships with their parents, and vice versa.
Physical health benefits are modest.
Meditation lessens the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors.
Also, meditators seem to have increased activity of telomerase, an enzyme implicated in longer life by minimizing chromosome shortening due to aging. Therefore, longevity may be enhanced but more research is needed since life span depends on many other factors such as a healthy lifestyle.
Other findings :