Meditation is a 2,500+ year old practice for training the mind. Historically a practice reserved for quiet monks, disciplined kung-fu masters, yogis, and ochre-robed swamis, it’s now the preferred performance-enhancing practice of R&B moguls, Super Bowl Champions, Olympic athletes, and A-list celebrities.

Meditation has gone mainstream.

One reason for that is that meditation is generally considered one of the most effective ways to train and focus your attention. And now, science has shown us that the meditative state has extremely positive physiological and neurological effects. What's to come in VR is very exciting. Why? Because meditation goes well beyond stress relief, although in itself, stress relief is a fine goal. Meditation unlocks the subconscious and allows you to tap into all kinds of self-improvement and reprogramming of poor habits and thinking. Here are some research-based findings on meditation.

1. Brain & Moods

  • Mindfulness practices decrease depression
  • Mindfulness meditation helps treat depression in mothers to be
  • Meditation practices help regulate mood and anxiety disorders
  • Meditation was found to be as effective to treat anxiety and depression as antidepressant drug
  • Meditation reduces stress and anxiety in general
  • Meditation helps reduce symptoms of panic disorder
  • Meditation increases gray matter concentration in the brain

What meditation does to your brain

  • Meditation acutely improves psychomotor vigilance, and may decrease sleep need
  • Long-term meditation enhances the ability to generate gamma waves in the brain
  • Meditation helps reduce alcohol and substance abuse

2. Mind & Performance

  • Meditation improves your focus, attention, and ability to work under stress
  • Meditation improves information processing and decision-making
  • Meditation gives you mental strength, resilience, and emotional intelligence
  • Meditation makes you stronger against pain
  • Meditation reduces pain
  • Meditation relieves pain better than morphine
  • Meditation helps manage ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Meditation increases the ability to keep focus in spite of distractions
  • Meditation improves learning, memory and self-awareness
  • Mindfulness meditation improves rapid memory recall
  • Meditation improves your mood and psychological well-being
  • Meditation prevents you from falling into the trap of multitasking too often
  • Meditation helps us allocate limited brain resources
  • Meditation improves visuospatial processing and working memory
  • Meditation prepares you to deal with stressful events
  • Mindfulness meditation fosters creativity

3. Body & Health

  • Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke
  • Meditation affects genes that control stress and immunity
  • Meditation reduces blood pressure
  • Mindfulness training can help treat inflammatory disorders
  • Mindfulness meditation decreases cellular-level inflammation
  • Mindfulness practice helps prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Meditation and meditative prayer help treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms
  • Yoga and mindfulness reduce stress
  • Mindfulness meditation reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and premature death
  • Mindfulness training is helpful for patients diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
  • Meditation helps manage the heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Mindfulness meditation may even help treat HIV
  • Meditation may make you live longer
  • Meditation helps manage psoriasis

Health benefits of Transcendental Meditation

There is an abundance of studies around the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation (a popular modality of meditation). In a nutshell, TM is found to:

  • Reduce metabolic syndrome
  • Extended longevity
  • Lower blood pressure in at-risk teens
  • Reduce atherosclerosis
  • Reduce thickening of Coronary Arteries
  • Reduce myocardial ischemia
  • Help manage and prevent anxiety
  • Helps manage cholesterol
  • Help treat epilepsy
  • Helps you stop smoking
  • Creates a state of deep rest in the body and mind
  • Increases skin resistance
  • Clarity of thinking

4. Relationships

  • Loving-kindness meditation improves empathy and positive relationships
  • Loving-kindness meditation also reduces social isolation
  • Meditation increases feelings of compassion and decreases worry
  • Mindfulness meditation decreases feelings of loneliness
  • Meditation reduces emotional eating

5. Mindfulness For Kids

  • reduced depression symptoms
  • reduced somatic stress
  • reduced hostility and conflicts with peers
  • reduced anxiety
  • reduced reactivity
  • reduced substance use
  • increased cognitive retention
  • increased self-care
  • increased optimism and positive emotions
  • increased self-esteem
  • increased feelings of happiness and well-being
  • improved social skills
  • improved sleep
  • improved self-awareness
  • improved academic performance

There were also numerous reports of benefits for teachers and staff, including:

  • increased personal qualities of open-minded curiosity, kindness, empathy, compassion, acceptance, trust,
  • patience, and non-striving, and the skills of focusing, and paying and switching attention
  • improvements in physical and mental health that tend to follow the learning of mindfulness, including
  • conditions particularly relevant to the teaching profession such as stress and burnout
  • improved teaching self-efficacy
  • improved physical health
  • increased ability to give more appropriate support for students by through being more motivated and autonomous
  • decreased stress
  • increased work motivation
  • improved spatial memory, working memory and sustained attention

6. Miscellaneous

Some more interesting facts about meditation:

  • Saying the OM sound before a surgery helps in preparation and recovery
  • Meditators are more able to affect the reality around us, at a quantum level
  • There is also some account of mindfulness meditation improving your sex life
  • Reduces race and age prejudice

Download a PDF of this list with research sources from LiveandDare.com.

As you can see, there are many examples of the benefits of meditation beyond simple stress relief. I always think it’s interesting to find out how new habits affect our brains. There are many different ways to meditate, and it’s a personal practice. A lot of research has shown that mindfulness is especially effective. This is focused attention, or mindful meditation, which is where you focus on one specific thing — it could be your breathing, a sensation in your body or a particular object outside of you. The point of this type of meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders.

Where we think this gets even more interesting, even more effective, is in virtual reality. Because virtual reality is so impactful emotionally and on the subconscious, the possibilities for invoking all of the above benefits is something we can learn how to do, and sometimes do more effectively in VR than we can in real life but most importantly take lessons back with us into the real world, stay tuned for more on this.

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