7 Powerful Reasons You Should Meditate Every Day. Really - Science Says So…
Updated: Jun 25
Meditation can lower your blood pressure, slow aging in your brain, decrease anxiety, and improve focus and concentration - why aren’t you practicing yet?
I don’t like sitting still. Unless I’m going to sleep or I’m off the metaphorical clock, I’m cleaning, re-organizing, emailing, writing, reading, thinking - Always Doing Something.
The first time I tried yoga? I’ve never felt such a Game Of Thrones-level war raging inside me. The energy pulsing through my body, furiously looking for an outlet… constant bouncing of restless leg syndrome seemed to be the ‘cure’.
Post-college, I felt paralyzed by mounting levels of stress in the wake of transitioning into a world that didn’t care whether I ‘made it’ or not. The fear of failing presented itself in a variety of fun ways:
The return of restless leg syndrome
Negative self talk
Fear of sitting still
(paradoxically) Inability to act
Feelings of inadequacy
Inability to take time for myself without feelings of guilt
Feelings of lack of purpose
It was debilitating. While I wasn’t physically ill, I felt drained, distracted, and disappointed. Maybe you can relate?
So when my friend and fellow life coach Rachael Taylor suggested adding some meditation to my mornings, my anxiety spiked.
I couldn’t even handle yoga, now you’re asking me to meditate?!?
But with a lengthy train of research supporting the apparently endless benefits of meditation, I decided to challenge myself and deep-dive into the scientific and spiritual health benefits behind why we should all try meditating.
Maybe you’ll even be encouraged to start your own meditation practice and join me in transforming our lives!
So without further ado...
1. Keeps Your Brain Young
What could be more tantalizing than the promise of eternal youth! Alas, while we cannot yet turn back time, we may be able to keep our brains younger, healthier, and happier as we age.
A study conducted by UCLA measuring the age-related atrophy in grey matter between 50 meditators who’d been practicing between 4-46 years, and 50 non-meditating control subjects, found that “age-related decline of local grey matter was less prominent in meditators”.
Another review of various studies examining how meditation affects the aging process highlights evidence suggesting that “meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse age-related brain degeneration” .
What does this mean for you? Well - grey matter is essential to higher processing, communication, cognitive function, and signaling throughout the body . Starting in our mid-twenties, our brains’ grey matter begins decreasing in volume and weight. This decrease correlates to the rising incidence of cognitive decline, dementia, and structural deterioration of our brain as we age.
Meditation seems to slow this process of cognitive decline, re-invigorating aging pathways in the brain!
2. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure directly relates to adverse health effects including heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the US. Luckily, a number of studies suggest that incorporating Transcendental Meditation into your daily routine can reduce your systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 5 and 3mg Hg respectively .
Side Note! While Mindfulness Meditations focus on letting go of the daily chatter, observing the patterns of our mind before returning patiently to our center, Transcendental Meditation uses mantras to ground you. Instructors suggest practicing for 20 minutes, twice each day.
To start, simply close your eyes and begin chanting your mantra. This mantra should be a meaningless sound - you don’t want to use a word that redirects your attention back to a memory or line of thought. Let yourself become absorbed in the fullness and meaninglessness of your chosen mantra, allowing your energy to be channeled in grounded intentional practice.
3. Reduces Anxiety
That’s right fellow nail-biters and leg bouncers, there is hope! Meditations’ direct impact in fostering an increased sense of calm and reducing anxiety and stress is perhaps the best known of its many powerful effects.
One study organized 93 individuals into an 8-week program of either a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a Stress-Management Education (the control group). They found that the group practicing mindfulness experienced significantly greater reductions in anxiety and an increase in positive self-statements .
Another review examining the relationship between mindfulness-based meditation and stress and anxiety reduction in college students found 33/40 studies about anxiety and 25/34 studies about self-reported stress “showed significant decreases in anxiety and stress respectively” with MBSR techniques. A further 22/24 studies showed an additional increase in mindfulness .
While research is not yet conclusive about meditation's effects on Anxiety Disorder, Meditation has proven an effective long-term strategy for dealing with symptoms of anxiety.
Practicing passive observance of emotional experience before letting go and safely returning to a place of trust and nonjudgmental experience gives perspective and practice in self-calming techniques, and is definitely worth a try if you find yourself suffering.
4. Improves Concentration & Attention
Have difficulty maintaining focus? Do you sometimes lose your way midway through a sentence, and silently hope somewhere along the way you’ll make sense? Join the club.
One study published in 2008 found that both Focused-Attention Meditation (FA) and Open-Monitoring Meditation (OM) led to increased ability to retain focus. Using an fMRI to view activation in the brain during FA meditation, they found increased activity in the parts of the brain responsible for monitoring, engaging attention, and attentional orienting .
Researchers found that while “expert meditators [averaging] 19 000 hours of practice showed stronger activation in these [brain regions] than do the novices, expert meditators with an average of 44 000 practice hours showed less activation.” 
So while developing focus and concentration takes added effort at first, it takes much less energy to sustain active focus once you've reached a certain threshold of experience.
Researchers also noted that "expert meditators showed less activation than... novices in the amygdala during FA meditation”, suggesting they no longer needed as much active energy to retain their focus - their brains were literally running more efficiently and could effectively devote less energy to concentrating without sacrificing results! 
This suggests that just as with any sport, there is a learning curve to training your focus that requires great energy and intentionality as you begin your practice, but which over time requires less active concentration.
This practiced power of focus lends you a greater ability to get into a state of flow and achieve your goals in all areas of your life!
5. Increases Awareness & Control Over Wandering Mind-Chatter
As a society, we are becoming more aware that the key to happiness is linked intricately to our experiencing life in all its colors. But even so, our monkey minds seem dead-set on distracting us, encouraging us to swing from thought to thought, wandering through aimless theoreticals and the practice of living, instead of experiencing life in its fullness.
One study conducted at Yale University examined the difference in brain activity between expert meditators and non-meditators. They were specifically curious about activity in our default-mode network (DMR) brain regions, responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts (AKA Mind-Chatter) that are linked to unhappiness and lower quality of life. 
Unsurprisingly, they found that expert meditators exhibited decreased DMN activation, meaning they experienced fewer intrusive thoughts and could easily return to a state of focus when faced with external distractions. Their control-group counterparts had a different experience, struggling to regroup after each distracting line of thought.
Consistent meditative practice not only leads to a greater ability to maintain concentration and quiet the thoughts that distract you from a state of high powered flow, but makes it easier to return to a state of focus if you do get distracted.
6. Increases Empathy & Emotional Regulation
Paradoxically, research shows that by centering yourself on your experience, you might be better able to empathize with the experience of others.
One study examining the effect of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program on nursing students found significant decreases in stress and anxiety.
More Interesting? They found that “being mindful may reduce anxiety and decrease tendencies to take on others’ negative emotions…. When students use mindfulness to quiet their minds, bodies, and emotions, and observe what is present, they may be better able to reach out to distressed clients and respond with concern, without suffering emotional contagion.” 
Two other forms of meditation, called Loving-Kindness Meditation and Compassion Meditation, both center on cultivating loving feelings by focusing on what inspires positivity and love using both active and passive techniques. Research shows that both LKM and CM have a profound effect on the brain, enhancing the emotional and somatosensory areas of the brain associated with empathy .
7. Provides Perspective; Connection to a Larger Purpose
This is perhaps my favorite aspect of meditation. In granting yourself stillness, you allow yourself to see the forest for the trees, so to speak.
In this final point, I'm taking a detour from the science into the spiritual. Going about your day, you are constantly submerged in accomplishing and doing - of performing your identity and acting towards your goals or responsibilities.
There is so much going on, we often forget our connection to a larger energy or divinity, and we miss out on the intuitive and uniquely personal flow that lives within each of us.
For some, this looks like a religious practice and may be rooted in prayer. For others, intentional journaling and affirmations.
While much of what we find ourselves doing on a daily basis may be in line with our goals, sometimes we get so busy being busy, that we automate our choices and lose connection to our intentions. Meditating offers a lifeline directly to your soul.
Don't lose yourself to the daily. Allow meditation to expand your spirit to see the larger picture of the world. Obstacles that once seemed immovable dissolve into illusions rooted in perceptions of possibility and learned self-defense mechanisms. Space to breathe and allow your problems to flow through you is vital to relaxing expectations and providing creative solutions.
Wow. I'm glad you went on this journey with me. I'm not going to lie, it's still a bit nerve-wracking thinking about sitting down even for 5 minutes of stillness and lack of activity. Luckily for us workaholics, there's an enormous range of free meditations available, catering to every soul-hungry spirit.
Here's a brief list of ways you can start your meditation practice today:
Loads of prerecorded meditations of all shapes and sizes: Youtube
Offers many live classes with other practitioners over Zoom: Eventbrite
Looking for more portable guided meditations to fit into your schedule on the go? Try Headspace & Calm
Still want a softer entry into meditation? Try journaling for about 15 minutes a day to get in touch with your deeper self and explore the thoughts that usually remain buried during the day.
With that in mind, I'm ready to start my meditation journey, and I hope you'll join me!
Meditation affords deep introspection. It's a time only for yourself; to reconnect with a larger fulfillment beyond the daily noise of the mundane. We are all intricately connected as energetic and exploratory creatures - our desire to express and connect through action and words is admirable, but often falls short of the inexpressible.
Allow yourself time to be human and to feel, rather than perform what that looks like to you.
Are you struggling with work-related blocks, and simply have too much on your plate to even think about taking some time for yourself?
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Thanks for reading! Much Gratitude, Madison Reid