Benefits of Meditation

There are many reasons why people meditate. For some it is part of a spiritual journey and has to do with expansion of awareness and how they perceive and experience life. Some simply want to relax, and this benefit of meditation is self-evident. Other people are interested in the benefits of meditation for health and general well-being. This page outlines some of those benefits.  (Read the comments of people who use our CDs and podcast, to read about the benefits of meditation in the words of actual people.)

The effectiveness of meditation comes from deep relaxation. When we are deeply relaxed, the body and mind are refreshed and revitalized. This brings many benefits that are both immediate and long lasting.

Some major health benefits of regular meditation include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Less anxiety
  • Faster healing
  • Decreased use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Stronger immune response

Reduction of stress hormones brings many benefits

The results above have been demonstrated in many rigorous scientific studies, a few of which are mentioned below. Researchers have found that meditation lowers levels of stress hormones. In fact, by decreasing the level of one such hormone – epinephrine — meditation has been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and therefore help arteries to remain clear. Reduction of stress hormones also supports the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Alpha waves and deep relaxation

This reduction in stress hormones may be explained by the relaxed state that comes about through meditation. Electroencephalograph (EEG) studies of the brain in those who are meditating show that meditation boosts the intensity of alpha waves – associated with quiet, receptive states — to levels not seen even during sleep. This relaxed state combats anxiety, and this is confirmed by research which has found lowered levels of lactic acid in the blood. (High levels of lactic acid are associated with anxiety.) Another effect of meditation is that breathing slows, so the body uses less oxygen.

Meditation helps the heart

Meditation has been found to be particularly helpful for the heart. Meditators have been found to have improved blood circulation, as well as a lowered heart rate, which places less demands on the heart. A 1998 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that people who practiced transcendental meditation (TM) had lower levels of lipid peroxide than those who didn’t. Lipid peroxide can contribute to atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases associated with aging. A 1999 study published in the same journal showed that people who practiced TM had lower blood pressure immediately after meditating than did the control group.

Help for Fibromyalgia, Psoriasis, IBS, and More

A 1998 study in Alternative Therapies showed that meditation helped decrease symptoms such as pain and sleeplessness in patients with fibromyalgia, a disease characterized by muscle pain, fatigue, and mild-to-moderate depression.

In a 1998 study at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, psoriasis patients who listened to a mindfulness meditation audiotape during their ultraviolet light therapy experienced faster healing than those who had the light therapy alone.

Meditation has also been associated with a longer life span, better quality of life, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced health-care costs. It has also shown promise as an adjunct therapy in relieving mild depression, insomnia, tension headache, irritable bowel syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as in controlling substance abuse.

Comments

27 Responses to “Benefits of Meditation”

  1. Mathew Woolford on September 21st, 2008 6:34 pm

    Hi, have been meditating for just over eight months now since having found your podcast in iTunes. Just wanted to say thank you to you all at Meditation Oasis for the excellent work you do. I have enjoyed greatly the sessions, finding two hours a day to do so, which has meant getting up a little earlier! I do find myself more relaxed and happier than before. Friends and family have also noticed a change in me and like me more because of it. No longer taking anti-depressants, not drinking anything like I used to, almost ready to stop smoking (they don’t taste the same these days!), started my own business too which has been itching away for me to do for years now. Feeling less anxious, less stressed, happier thoughts, not had a migraine in over six months. I used to get at least two attacks each month since a teenager (now 37) so priceless in that alone. Have a more positive outlook and hunger to improve in all areas. Biggest one has been learning to trust again which I am still moving through. Putting things into perspective with meditation, after a deeply broken heart in my early twenties, have made great waves in lessening the hurt, almost ready to find and trust someone new again, start sharing my life, maybe?

    Do you have a motivational fitness meditation available? Without doing other podcasts an injustice, they do not have the same effect as you so would be a great help if you do have or willing to do, thank you.

    Can’t thank you enough, please keep up what it is that you do so perfectly. Your very happy friend, Mat. Be well.

  2. Mary on September 22nd, 2008 10:22 am

    It is so inspiring to hear from you, Mat! It’s a great testimony to the value of regular meditation. So many things have improved in your life. Richard and I are both so moved by hearing your story.

    We don’t have a motivational fitness meditation. It’s an interesting idea. Could you elaborate on what you have in mind?

  3. axel g on October 19th, 2008 6:23 am

    Meditation is very beneficial to the body and mind!

    I prefer to keep it simple, so I’m into plain and simple awareness of the present moment.

    Eckhart Tolle and Ajahn Sumedho are great masters of this minimalistic approach…

    Nice site +_+

  4. Mary on October 19th, 2008 8:57 am

    Hi Axel,
    Actually I think of “plain and simple awareness of the present moment” as the essence of meditation. Funny thing is it can be arrived at in so many ways — with or without a practice. It gets tricky when you try to make a practice of plain and simple awareness — then it’s not plain and simple anymore…

    These days the word “meditation” is used so loosely, for so many different kinds of practices. I used to have a very narrow approach, but I’ve really been enjoying creating the podcast and playing around with different possibilities.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Brian on November 9th, 2008 3:40 pm

    Does anyone report that they have an increase in creativity? I often get cool random ideas during periods when I am meditating daily. Have you heard this?

  6. Mary on November 9th, 2008 4:14 pm

    Hi Brian,
    Yes! Many people experience increased creativity as a result of meditation. A great inspiration to keep on meditating!

  7. Dan on January 29th, 2009 8:49 am

    I believe in God. I believe we are all part of one universe, not set apart from it, but part of it. i have been meditating using these podcasts and information from the on-line course and my beliefs have not changed. I am aware of my beliefs more now than ever. I think this is partially because meditation is about centering and experiencing what IS. Not what is believed, taught, heard… etc. but simply what IS. It has enabled me to live in the present and not in the past, present, and future all at once. It has enabled me to focuse on NOW and living life NOW. Again, my beliefs are unchanged, but I feel I am a more balanced person because of the resources here at Oasis.

  8. Mary on June 30th, 2009 9:14 am

    How beautiful, Dan. This is so moving to read. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Kat on August 6th, 2009 9:26 pm

    Hello :)

    I stumbled across your website as I was looking for information about meditation. I’m so happy to have found it. I’ve been having trouble with meditating on my own, I’ve never done guided meditation before… I’ve found it to be tremendously helpful.

    This is a great website, definitely a great resource. I’ve purchased a few things from the shop and I’ve been listening to them every day.

    Anyway, great website!!! Thanks for making this. :)

    Kat

  10. Mary on August 7th, 2009 9:36 am

    You are welcome, Kat. I’m so glad the website has been helpful. Just spent a little time at your very interesting blog and left a comment. Great to have you visit here. Best wishes on your journey!

  11. Monay on October 15th, 2009 7:07 am

    Hi!

    I’ve been listening to your guided meditations a little over 2 months and they are great! I especially love the Chakra Meditation! It really helps open up my “energy passageways” so to speak!

    The only conflict that I am having with your meditations is that, no matter what time I do them, I somehow fall asleep after 5-10 minutes of listening!

    It’s so relaxing I guess, so that could be a reason but there have been times when I have done the meditation in the middle of the day and still fell asleep. Is there anything that I can do to keep myself from falling asleep so quickly?

    I really do enjoy Meditation Oasis on itunes. I have subscribe to the Podcast and listen to a guided meditation almost day. I just want to stay awake to enjoy them even more. Any suggestions?

  12. Mary on October 15th, 2009 9:24 am

    Hi Monay, Glad you’re enjoying the podcast. Chances are if you are falling asleep in meditation, it’s because your body needs the sleep. When we become deeply relaxed in meditation, the body does what it needs to to balance itself. The best way to stay awake in meditation is to get enough sleep at night! also, if you’ve been meditating lying down, try sitting up. That tends to keep the mind more alert.

  13. john on November 7th, 2009 6:49 am

    hi
    enjoying all the peace in my being from ur oasis guidance thanks again

  14. Mary on November 7th, 2009 9:34 am

    You’re welcome, John!

  15. Brian on March 11th, 2010 5:38 pm

    As a medical student, I am under a great deal of pressure on a regular basis. I have found that using your podcasts has really helped me to take a step back from the emotions of stress and pressure and learn to “let them go”.

    I have found that since doing this, my studying is more effective and I am generally feeling much more relaxed, even when exams are near.

    Thank you for taking your time to put together these podcasts!

  16. Mary on March 12th, 2010 10:33 am

    This is really good to hear, Brian. Thank you for taking time to contact us with your busy schedule. You are very welcome!

  17. Brian on March 18th, 2010 6:19 pm

    I need to leave a very big thank you on this website for all the help, for 8 years I had problems with narcotics(all of them, literally) and had tried numerous times to change crowds, phone numbers, locations, down to my looks and hours I allowed myself to hang out during the daytime with no success, and thanks to your website and the meditations on it I’ve now been able to stay clean for a month and two days now and felt minimal amounts of cravings and when they do arise I need only to use your walking meditation guidelines or the meditation in nature and the problem is resolved.

    Thank you so much for helping me turn my life around!

  18. Mary on March 18th, 2010 6:53 pm

    Brian, Richard and I are so moved to read this. How fortunate, and how fortunate for us to have a part in this! You are so very, very welcome.

  19. nourhy on April 7th, 2010 10:13 pm

    Everyone should learn to meditate. Its an easy and inexpensive way to relieve everyday stress, so much better then drugs and it doesn’t require fancy equipment or place. This will not only help your mind but even your body will experience profound effects. Keep up the great work here!

  20. Brian on August 24th, 2010 2:15 pm

    I wanted to know how meditation works with autosuggestion. I would like to meditate regularly, but when my mind is espcially in tuned to visualize my purpose and manifestation, can I use my imagination actively in meditation without going against the purpose of meditation? I always try to realize when I visualize that what I desire in my life is actually in my life just not manifested physically. In fact the moment I realize my desires is still the same moment as the moment I am currently experiencing. There is actually no past or future just this moment. So is bringing my imagination to bear on my meditation alright to practice? Sometimes my mind would rather just be calm, but sometimes my minds imagination is active and I feel that it would be sin to ignore such a wonderful thing while in meditation, since meditation seems so natural to inducing visualization and realization of what is possible in life. I also often find moments when astral projection is much easier when I am in meditation, and I can travel anywhere I choose beyond my local existance. Wouldn’t you consider this a good exercise if the soul is able to be present in other planes within the universe or beyond? Afterall, we are present everywhere, yet we experience life in a local existance most of our lives.

  21. Mary on August 25th, 2010 9:13 am

    Brian, there are many styles of meditation with different purposes, so why not do any kind that gives you some benefit? You can do different kinds at different times. Enjoy!

  22. 3 Ways to Relax for Free | Grad Meets World on April 5th, 2011 12:47 pm

    […] If you are interested, I highly suggest checking out Meditation Oasis. […]

  23. Pat Rusk on May 7th, 2011 7:37 pm

    Thanks for your response about a meditation on “forgiveness”. I think it is a really basic need for many of us and hope you will be doing one soon”
    thanks,
    Pat

  24. Siegfried Ehmann on July 8th, 2011 1:58 am

    Hi Mary and Crew,
    I am hearing your meditations nearly every day on my Ipod.
    Almost when I am stressed and need relaxation.
    And it gives me fully relaxations and positive thougts.
    Thanks a lot for that.
    Greetings from switzerland.
    Siegfried Karl

  25. Mary on July 8th, 2011 8:53 am

    You are very welcome, Siegfried. It’s wonderful to hear that you are getting al this benefit from the meditations. Thank you for your openness to using them!

  26. Mike C. on January 6th, 2012 2:55 pm

    Mary: I wanted to add my thanks for your website and the podcasts. Meditation has added a lot to my life since I began many years ago; your guided meditations are wonderful to listen to, as well as show how many ways one can focus on different aspects of the practice.

    For myself, I find it fascinating how it seems that meditation’s benefits seem to be unexpected and unpredictable. I give it at least some credit for my giving up smoking many years ago, as well as having an impact on my emotional health. Recently I gave a presentation to a work group that benefited from my being calmer and less nervous; I give meditation at least some credit for this. These are just a couple of personal examples (out of many), and I think that everyone’s experience will vary. But I think most people if not all would benefit in some way from leaning to meditate and doing so regularly.

  27. Mary on January 6th, 2012 3:21 pm

    You’re welcome, Mike. These definitely sound like the kind of benefits that come from meditation. Isn’t it wonderful that meditating keeps bringing unexpected gifts. Probably we aren’t even aware of all of them! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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