25 Researched Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation

Photo by Garrett Patz

The popularity of mindfulness and meditation has increased in large part due to the growing body of evidence supporting efficacy. What was once considered something for the “spiritual types” has since been adopted by those looking for a competitive edge.

Business leaders like Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Jeff Weiner of Linkedin practice daily, while corporations like Google, Apple, General Mills, and Goldman Sachs have adopted mindfulness programs for their employees. In fact, health giant Aetna reported employees’ annual productivity rose by about $3,000 each by participating in a mindfulness training program.

This article covers 25 benefits of mindfulness and meditation measured by scientists that helped motivate people to start practicing.

1. Boost energy

During a 9-month mental training program, 229 adults provided daily reports before and after meditation practice. All practices, including breathing meditation, body scan, loving-kindness meditation, and observing-thought meditation increased energy.

2. Increase cognitive flexibility

A 2009 study comparing meditators to a meditation-naïve control group found that meditating and mindfulness are positively related to cognitive flexibility.

3. Improve performance on standardized tests

In 2013, mindfulness training was compared against nutrition education for performance on the GRE. Using standardized score procedures for the GRE test, the change in GRE accuracy from mindfulness training led to an average improvement analogous to 16 percentile points when compared to nutrition classes.

4. Boost focus and attention

A 2010 study comparing meditators to non-meditators found that meditators demonstrate more accurate and efficient visual attention. Another study concluded that meditation increased present focus and decreased thought distraction.

Apparently, these changes can happen fast.

In 2007 a study found that short-term meditation training improves attention, and a study from 2011 revealed that even four days of meditation training can enhance your ability to sustain attention.

5. Expand working memory

In one study, business school students were given a working memory capacity task. Participants who received mindfulness training displayed higher working memory capacity than the control group.

6. Strengthen cognitive control

A 2013 study revealed that mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to disconnect from the stress center of the brain, recruiting higher-order, pre-frontal cortex regions necessary for complex cognition and decision-making. Later, in 2017, another study found that meditators displayed more efficient cognitive control.

7. Take care of blood pressure

A 2014 systematic review revealed multiple forms of meditation were effective in reducing blood pressure. Another study indicated that just 30 seconds of meditation reduced blood pressure by 5 points on average.

8. Heighten creativity

Studies in 2012 and 2014 concluded that open-monitoring meditation promotes divergent thinking, the style of thinking that allows new ideas to be generated. A later meta-analysis deemed it “very likely” that mindfulness benefits creative abilities.

9. Decrease stress

A 2014 study including over 3500 people concluded that meditation programs can result in reductions of multiple negative dimensions of psychological stress. In 2017, a systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that mindfulness-based interventions have the potential to significantly improve stress levels.

10. Reduce anxiety

Studies in both 2008 and 2014 deemed mindfulness and meditation an effective treatment for anxiety.

11. Raise positivity

A 2009 research review found that mindfulness is associated with more positive states of mind. In 2019, a study revealed that multiple forms of meditation increase positivity of affect.

12. Treat depression

A 2014 study concluded that meditation is an effective treatment for depression. A later study deemed mindfulness-based interventions effective in reducing depression.

13. Control pain

One study of over 3500 participants found that meditators reported less chronic or intermittent pain.

14. Regulate emotions

A 2015 study found that mindfulness is associated with healthy emotional regulation. This includes enhanced emotional recovery and enhanced ability to engage in goal-directed behaviors. Another study back in 2011 suggests that practicing mindfulness leads to better emotional stability.

15. Reduce emotional distress

A 2015 meta-analysis found that an 8 week mindfulness based intervention was effective in reducing distress. An earlier 2009 meta analysis determined that basic and clinical research indicated that mindfulness is associated with less emotional distress.

16. Improve psychological well-being

A 2018 study found that there is substantial evidence that mindfulness training improves overall psychological well-being.

17. Sharpen critical thinking

A 2015 study suggests that mindfulness facilitates critical thinking performance.

18. Generate psychological capital

A 2014 study examining CEO’s and managers found that mindfulness is significantly positively correlated with psychological capital — hope, resilience, and optimism.

19. Enhance conflict monitoring

A 2017 study found that short-duration, video-assisted deep breathing in young adults lead to enhanced conflict monitoring.

20. Raise quality of life

A 2009 research review found that mindfulness is associated with a higher overall quality of life. An additional 2015 meta-analysis found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in ameliorating quality of life in healthy individuals.

21. Curb cognitive decline

22. Improve sleep

A 2011 meta-analysis found that people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer after meditating.

23. Reduce distraction

A 2007 study concluded that mindfulness meditation reduces distractive and ruminative thoughts and behaviors.

24. Strengthen immune system

25. Develop compassion

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Founder @ lumiate.io. Lumiate delivers preventative care while you use Facebook or do anything else online.