Unexpected Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life
Reasons why you should start meditating today
The term 'meditation' refers to a broad variety of practices, ranging from techniques designed to promote relaxation to exercises performed with a more far-reaching goal such as a heightened sense of wellbeing3. Derived from Buddhist and other Eastern spiritual systems that emphasize contemplation and the cultivation of conscious attention5, meditation is often recognized as one of the most beneficial habits that you can start. It provides numerous health benefits and may have the potential to transform your life.
Let's take a look at ten unexpected ways meditation can improve the quality of your life better.
Meditation can make you more creative
To understand creativity, it's first important to understand the different types of thinking. There are three modes of thought: Divergent thinking, convergent thinking, and lateral thinking.
Convergent thinking is a thought process that values logic and reasoning and is used to figure out the 'correct answer. When questions are well-defined and fact-based, such as in multiple-choice tests, your convergent thought processes are put to work.
Divergent thinking is the thought process based on creativity and imagination. It allows us to come up with ideas in a non-linear way. If you were asked to come up with as many new titles for a book that's about to be released, that would be a task that would call for divergent thinking.
The third mode of thought is lateral thinking. This is when you combine both divergent and convergent thinking to come to a conclusion. It uses imagination and logic together to solve problems. An example of lateral thinking could be when you have to negotiate a pay raise or figure out the best way to spend your family budget.
A study named 'Meditate to create: the impact of focused-attention and open-monitoring training on convergent and divergent thinking' was able to show that meditation has a specific impact on divergent thinking (imagination). But it also concluded that not all meditation has the same effect. The researchers found that within their study, it was OM meditation that specifically led to better performance in creative tasks8.
Meditation can help keep your brain young
After the first two decades of life, the human brain begins deteriorating and continues to so with increasing age1. Meditation may help you keep your brain healthier as you age and may reduce the chances of getting brain-related health concerns such as dementia or alzheimer's. An experiment conducted by the University of California (UCLA) and the Australian National University discovered that long-term meditation can help keep your brain from aging as quickly by slowing down the decline of grey matter1.
Meditation can improve your Focus, Memory, and Mood
Don't have a lot of time? No worries! A 2019 study suggests that even short meditation sessions provide significant benefits if you're new to the practice. It also suggests that these short practices can have similar behavioral effects as longer duration and higher-intensity meditation practices6. That means even brief, daily meditation practices enhance attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators6.
The ability to enhance how focused and productive you are on achieving your goals and following your passions requires mental effort. Cultivating focus is a task that requires well... focus as well. Choosing the correct type of meditation practice to get the maximum returns for what you're hoping to improve is just as important. Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and Transcendental Meditation are the most effective forms of meditation that can help improve your focus5. If you're looking to remember things more effortlessly, Mindful Meditation is more geared towards improving memory7.
Meditation can lower stress levels
Though not an unexpected benefit of picking up a meditation habit, reducing stress levels is worth mentioning on this list for just how important such a benefit can have on your life. A considerable percentage of the world population is going through negative consequences created by stress, especially during these last few years. If you want to learn how to overcome stress, lessen anxiety and regulate your emotions, it might be worth it to attempt to add meditation to your daily or weekly routine.
A recent study identified that mindfulness practices, including body scanning, mindful yoga, and sitting meditation, positively increased regional brain tissue density2. After following a group of seventeen individuals, the researchers noticed that the gray matter concentration in their brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking increased in density.