The Science Behind Meditation

The practice of meditation elevates you spiritually by opening the door to your higher consciousness. Meditation can lower your stress, help you find yourself, increase your awareness of others, and encourage you to act. When you practice it on a consistent schedule, you allow your mind to gain clarity and learn to detach from your ego to discover what is beyond yourself. It makes you a better person, and science is starting to back up those claims. Here are just some of the many ways meditation is igniting you spiritually.

Meditation combats loneliness by facilitating a greater connection.

Many of us find it is a struggle to connect with ourselves, other people, a higher power, or the universe. As a result, we can become consumed with feelings of loneliness and emptiness. Studies show that when we meditate, we can combat those feelings. By tapping into our ability to feel interconnectedness, meditation encourages feelings of belonging to something greater. One study found that spending time in nature meditating improved psychological well-being. Meditation can make you feel at one with the environment around you.

Meditation is linked to increased forgiveness.

A study published in the journal Emotion found that mindful people are more likely to forgive. When we struggle to forgive others, it is typically because we are so focused on our personal emotions about what happened. This fuels the hurt we already have. Meditation requires us to take a step back and view situations from a different perspective, making it easier to get over the pain.

Meditation positively influences your brain structure.

In 2011, a Harvard team of researchers found that after weeks of meditation, their participant’s brain volume changed. They found that eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus. The hippocampus regulates learning, memory, and some of our emotions. Additionally, meditation decreased the brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for governing our fears, anxieties, and stress levels. Not only do we feel better after meditation practices, but our brain is also changing to support those positive emotions.

Meditation reduces your deeply held biases and cultivates compassion.

Studies on meditation have found that the practice can change our deeply held biases. One study in 2014 found that even a brief meditation exercise can reduce prejudice towards homeless people, while another found meditation could decrease our unconscious bias towards Black or elderly people. It did not only affect the participant’s attitudes but changed their behavior.

We often see the presence of suffering in our world but struggle to take the step to help those that need it. Several studies have found that practicing loving-kindness meditation for others increases our willingness to act. It does this by activating circuits in our brains that are connected to good feelings and love and lessening amygdala activity. Those that have practiced meditation for an extended period also focus less on themselves, and thoughts drift more towards other’s life experiences.

Meditation helps you find your life’s purpose.

Through meditation, you can find ways to give your life a higher purpose. Many of us look at our jobs as merely a way to pay bills, and not something that allows us to contribute to society in a significant way. Meditation practices encourage us to think about extending kindness to others. When we then extend that kindness in our day to day lives, we increase our eudaimonia, which is a type of well-being that includes purpose. Studies found this boost in well-being lasts for weeks, even after people stop performing acts of kindness.

If you are seeking to live a life at a more elevated state, integrate a daily meditation practice. Meditation offers you a space to detach from the pressures and stress of life, step outside of our egos, and become aligned with a higher version of ourselves. It affords you a connection not only to yourself but to all living things in the universe.