People have practiced meditation since at least the 5th century BCE. While some argue that meditation began in India, others believe its roots lie in China. Regardless, meditation can have substantial benefits in your life, according to studies done at Harvard University. There are at least six meditation benefits:
Build Self-awareness and Empathy
Regular meditation enlarges the left hippocampus part of your brain. This brain part controls your ability to be self-aware of how you are feeling. Therefore, you can become more aware of your emotional health quicker. This part of the brain also allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes easier, so you can empathize with the stressed retail worker or perhaps your waiter trying to handle requests from 10 tables at once.
When you meditate regularly, you can focus throughout your day, which helps you stay on task to accomplish more each day. According to MRIs done at Harvard, this is true because the posterior cingulate of the brain becomes stronger.
Stay in the Present Moment
A second benefit of having a stronger posterior cingulate is that you can focus on what is happening in the present. The ability to stay in the moment is key to lowering anxiety levels and can help reduce the impact of depression. Being present in the moment can also help you feel better about yourself as you are no longer passing judgment about “what you should have done” or anticipating future problems.
Improves Body Control
Studies of people with Parkinson’s disease show they can have better body control when they meditate regularly. Of course, you do not have to have this dreadful disease to enjoy the benefits of controlling your body better. For example, people who meditate often can hide their body and facial expressions better because of changes caused by meditation in the pons part of the brain.
Get Better Sleep
For many people, one of the most significant benefits of meditation is the ability to get a better night’s sleep. Changes in the pons section of the brain through meditation also are responsible for these changes. Getting a good night’s rest can benefit you in many ways, including making your immune system stronger, staying a healthy weight, and reducing stress.
Reduces Stress Levels
People who meditate regularly also have reduced stress in their lives for another reason. The amygdala part of the brain shrinks. This brain part is responsible for rising stress levels, and when it is smaller, your level cannot get as high. Additionally, you are likely to feel less fearful and less anxious.