Meditation Helps Us In More Ways Than You Think
Meditation has had many debates and discussions on the process and if it actually gives the benefits that they say you obtain while meditating. Many people say it hasn’t worked for them and the other side said otherwise and that they did receive the benefits that meditation holds. Meditation itself is still being researched to show that it does work for us psychologically as well as physiologically. Some research shows that meditation helps reduce pain, depression and anxiety, as well increase gray matter. Meditation can help us in many ways that we don’t really look into, and now there is scientific research that proves that it does.
What we know about meditation is that it helps decrease depression and in Wiveka Ramell’s she provides her own research study that shows it does decrease depression. She did an 8 week course on Mindful Meditation that focuses on stress reduction on affective symptoms. With that 8 week course they studied a sample of individuals that have a lifetime of mood disorders and they compared them with a waitlist sample. Their results say that mindfulness meditation does decrease in ruminative thinking, even after controlling for reductions in their symptoms. The evidence is clear. Meditating does help deal with your depression and beside psychologically, meditation also helps physiologically.
Depression and anxiety is the bulk on what meditation is known for, but it also helps our body in other ways as well. In F. Zeidan’s article, he provides a study on how meditation helps with pain. His study shows how meditation influences sensory experience, by employing arterial spin labeling (ASL) functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the neural mechanisms by which meditation “influences pain in healthy human participants.” In this study they had 4 days of mindfulness meditation training , meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation showed significantly reduced pain unpleasantness by 57% and pain intensity by 40%. Besides that, they also did an analysis to identify brain regions associated with individual differences in the magnitude of meditation pain reduction. Together, this data indicated that meditation engaged multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information. So besides taking pain medication and becoming addicted to them, another source would be meditation. I feel like what helped this study is that they had training on mindfulness meditation and the opponent that says that meditation doesn’t work, probably didn’t give their subjects proper training. Nevertheless, this study proves that meditation can help physiologically as well.
Since we are on the topic of physiological help that meditation brings, there are more studies that shows how meditation can help us. In Eileen Luders’ study she shows how meditation helps increase the levels of gray matter in different regions of our brains. MRI data shows that 44 subjects focusing on different regions of the brain on research that provided evidence for meditation induced improvement in psychological and physiological well-being. In this study meditators showed significantly larger volumes of grey matter in different regions of the brain as well as emotional regulation and response control. For people who don’t know what gray matter is, gray matter is the dark tissue that is part of the brain and spinal cord, and it is dark because of the nerve cell and dendrites that are being used. So besides helping with our depression, stress, and anxiety, meditation is helping us by showing how much it’s doing to our bodies.
Now it’s really hard to find studies about meditation, because of how “fresh” it is. There are still many other research that is happening just to prove that meditation is the new inexpensive medicine that every needs to try. Of course mediation doesn’t come easy, it takes practice. Hopefully these next studies that are coming out do take the time to actually train their subjects on how to meditate, because it is showing better results if they are trained correctly on how to do it. Nevertheless meditation is breaking through and showing us its benefits on how this can help us.