If you want to go past my initial plans and get to the hardcore science scroll down to the heading Crazy Study. I get it; sometimes our practice can seem to have stalled, or not “getting anywhere,” but that is primarily because of our expectations, which are really just a waste of mental space and set us up for so much frustration. But I, too, have been there, in all the scenarios, for close to 2 decades of my meditation journey. From ardent daily meditator to the fallen off the wagon, to the sporadic meditator and the guy who knew I needed to do it but just didn’t through to the guy who doubted the efficacy of it.
Thankfully I moved through all those periods to where meditation is now just a fluid part of my life.
That is what I want for you, and for many reasons, but a dominant reason is, that if you live on this planet in modern reality, you are accumulating stress in your system. That stress makes us sick and stupid. And if you help your nervous system as much as possible to alleviate those stresses, you will be a better person 100%. I’d dare to say you know this as well.
And plus, if you meditate, you help the world be a better place by being the calm, coherent person amongst the chaos, which spreads out over the fire of insanity of the calamity of modern life like a cooling breeze on a baking summer afternoon.
So if my passionate, emotive, and slightly poetic pleas fall short, here’s some science you cannot ignore. Or you can, but I don’t recommend it…
I am going to share ten scientific findings on meditation and the brain with some amazing benefits, which are just beneath this study I want to share with you.
CRAZY STUDY Review of a longitudinal peer-reviewed study (the highest caliber and reviewed by other scientists) shares findings from a study on the intake and outpatient hospital visits comparing TM meditators to a general population. Details of the study are below results.
Dramatically Reduced Hospitalization:
Young Adults (19–39): 50.1% fewer inpatient days.
Older Adults (40+): A staggering 69.4% fewer inpatient days.
Significantly Lower Outpatient Visits (day visits):
Young Adults (19–39): 54.7% fewer visits.
Older Adults (40+): An impressive 73.7% fewer visits.
Major Reductions Across Health Categories:
Tumor-related admissions: Down by 55.4%.
Heart disease admissions: Plummeted by 87.3%.
Infectious disease admissions: Decreased by 30.4%.
Mental disorder admissions: Lowered by 30.6%.
Diseases of the nervous system: A massive reduction of 87.3%.
Crazy, right? My take on why this is happening? It’s all about reducing that overwhelming stress response we’re so reliant on. As a result, our immune systems get supercharged and become way more powerful. Now to also allow for the fact that there would also be potential other factors involved, that meditators may eat better, and consume less harmful substances, but the commonality amongst that is they meditate.
Study details: Over a span of 5 years, a robust study compared the medical insurance utilization rates between approximately 2000 regular Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners and a massive benchmark group of 600,000 members. The findings were astonishing and strongly underline the profound health benefits of meditation in Brisbane.
Reference: Orme-Johnson, D.W. (1987). Medical care utilization and the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosomatic Medicine, 49(1), 493-507.
NOTE: A quick caveat — I am sure we all understand that health isn’t a level playing field. We’re incredibly complex systems, and I’m not suggesting that meditation makes us immune to every illness or disease. However, meditation does offer a way to support our system in the best possible manner, and that’s a fundamental aspect of the practice. Additionally, we may have periods in life where we are faced with illnesses and tumultuous situations, and for those moments, for which I have nothing but compassion, meditation in these times can also be a gentle respite and aid to soothe us on many levels as well as giving. our system that deep rest and access to the parasympathetic nervous system which is essential to optimal healing.
Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits you are giving your brain:
- Increased Grey Matter Density: Meditation can lead to an increase in grey matter, which houses various neural structures crucial for memory, emotions, and seeing.
- Brain Aging Deceleration: Some studies suggest meditation can slow down brain aging, resulting in sustained cognitive abilities.
- Neuroplasticity Boost: Meditation can enhance the brain’s ability to reorganize and adapt, forming new neural connections.
- Support for Neurological Health: Meditation practices have been associated with potential benefits in managing symptoms and enhancing well-being in various neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.
- Enhanced Neural Efficiency: Meditators often show increased efficiency in neural resource utilization during cognitive tasks.
- Preservation of Cognitive Function in Elderly: Older meditators can have better-preserved cognitive functions compared to non-meditators.
- Neuroendocrine Regulation: Meditation can influence the neuroendocrine system, potentially modulating hormones related to stress and well-being.
- Protection Against Memory Loss: Meditation might offer some protection against memory dysfunctions like dementia in the elderly.
- Improved Attention and Neural Processing: Meditators often display enhanced attentional capacities and faster neural processing.
- Brain Structure Enhancement: Meditation has been linked to larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of grey matter.
These neurological benefits, informed by various scientific studies, provide a compelling reason for integrating meditation into daily routines, especially concerning brain health and aging.
Anyway, I know that was a heavy science read and vastly different from the more emotive emails I am probably better known for… but I love both sides and the middle road too.
So if you have stopped meditating, I urge you to kick it back up and get rid of any expectations. There is just far too much scientific data to support meditation as an enhancer of life.
Perhaps Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said it best “Water the root and the tree will bear fruit”