These days, it seems like new anxiety or depression pills are emerging every day. Maybe you have no idea where to start, or what to try. Everyone has heard of meditation, an age-old practice most commonly associated with Buddhist monks and yoga. But recent neurological studies have shown that monks and yoga fanatics may be onto something. Meditation may have more benefits than we ever realized before. A team of Harvard researchers led by Sara Lazar stumbled across several fascinating phenomena in the brain evoked by meditation. Their studies only scratched the surface of the power of meditation and how it rewires the mind.
Here are five benefits of meditation that they discovered:
1) Decreases anxiety
There is no end to anxiety treatments and medications these days. But meditation may be one of the best tools out there to reduce anxiety and train the brain to handle stress more efficiently. It takes time to master, but the results on those who meditate on a frequent basis have lower amounts of stress and anxiety than those who have never tried it.
2) Improves empathy and compassion
Since meditation is a calming technique, naturally it helps in the social arena as well. Taking the time to meditate for a set time daily has been shown to increase empathy and connectedness with others. When stressed and anxious on a constant basis, it can be difficult to find common ground with those around us. Hence, meditation reduces stress and subsequently allows the brain to spend more time building empathic connections to those encountered in everyday life.
3) Rewires how you process trauma
In trauma cases, meditation has been groundbreaking as a potential means of alleviating trauma symptoms. By spending time meditating on a daily basis, the mind gets rewired to process traumatic events in a different, more constructive way.
4) Increases your focus
Meditation has been shown to increase focus as much as ADD medications do. Both improve focus by .03%, which shows how effective this often overlooked practice can be. If it has the same positive effect as medications such as Adderall or Ritalin, those who struggle with focus or hyperactivity can supplement prescriptions with regular meditation.
5) Enhances creativity
Are you a writer or artist who struggles to focus on a current project? Are you experiencing creative burnout? Meditation could be the missing puzzle piece you’ve been looking for to rediscover your creative side and increase productivity. Studies show that meditation opens up the right side of your brain and clears your neural pathways so the left and right sides of your brain can better communicate. Try spending five minutes a day meditating and seeing the difference it makes in your creative output.
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