There are many reasons that people seek out meditation .. probably the two most common reasons I hear, are stress management and health concerns.
An interesting article rolled into my in-tray today from Psychology Today titled ‘6 Other Reasons to Meditate’ which details some recent research in the field of meditation .. and six MORE good reasons to start meditating. Detailed below is an abbreviation of the article "6 Other Reasons to Meditate" (the article is by Linda Wasmer Andrews, Published on July 8, 2010 : read full article and find links to the studies mentioned here).
Meditation is about focusing the mind and thus is shown to improve our power of concentration. A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that three months of intensive meditation training led to improvements in attentional stability - the ability to sustain attention without frequent lapses.
Lower blood pressure
A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension found that Transcendental Meditation (TM) helped students decrease psychological distress and increase coping ability, changes associated with a reduction in blood pressure.
A study from India's National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences looked at how sleep was affected by vipassana meditation (a technique that focuses on mental and physical processes in order to develop insight). Meditators showed enhanced slow wave (deep) sleep and REM sleep.
One of the best-studied medical uses of meditation(mindfulness meditation) is for helping manage chronic pain. For chronic pain sufferers, mindfulness may help them notice and accept their pain without becoming anxious and panicky, which just makes the pain worse. A study from the University of Montreal found structural MRI brain scans showed that meditators had a thicker cortex in certain pain-related areas of the brain. This cortical thickening was associated with lower pain sensitivity.
Three converging lines of research show that meditation may influence not only quality of life, but also quantity : (1) meditation may help counter the body's stress response and all the physical wear and tear that goes along with chronic stress, (2) meditation may help slow aging by decreasing oxidative stress - cellular damage caused by highly reactive molecules known as free radicals, (3) meditation may help fight chronic inflammation throughout the body, which contributes to diseases as diverse as obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Connecting with others
Loving-kindness meditation might seems to help build a sense of social connectedness. A study in the journal Emotion found that just a few minutes of this form of meditation practice increased positive, connected feelings toward strangers.
So .. isn't it time to start meditating?