Science Based Benefits Of Meditation

About meditation

One of the most well-known and extensively studied mental training methods is meditation, which is frequently promoted as a cure-all for nearly anything.1 Meditation has no universal or outright definition; however, it is a collective name given to a wide range of techniques that helps you to establish a connection with your innermost self (the deep inner Self).2

The Vedic texts contain descriptions of meditation techniques that date back to the early Vedic era in India, where meditation originated. Ayurveda, or the Science of Life, is a holistic, all-natural health care system that started in India during the ancient Vedic era. It includes meditation as one of its therapeutic approaches.3

Three components make up the human being, each with corresponding functions.

The physical body 

Includes all parts of your anatomy including your eyes, heart, head, and legs.

The inner faculty 

Is the constantly changing working consciousness made up of four aspects: 

  • As the mind processes sensory perception, duality can be observed in the opposites e.g. pleasure and pain, good and evil, hot and cold 
  • Intellect is the ability to perform analyses, judgments, and discriminations  
  • Ego is the doer and experiencer
  • Chitta acts as the reservoir of memories and impressions of life

The deep inner Self 

Is the unchanging, pure consciousness that sees the inner faculties at work. All knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and all-natural principles that regulate existence come from one's deep inner Self.

The primary goal of meditation, following the understanding of the Vedic texts (Vedic science), is to have a connection with your deep inner Self by calming the mind and achieving an utterly distinct state of consciousness from the typical waking state.4 

The fundamental purpose of meditation is served by methods that help you reach that objective. These various methods range from the famous practice of paying attention to one's breathing to the much less popular practice of humming meditation or reflecting on one's mortality.3 Formal meditation practices have given rise to techniques like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).

Benefits of meditation

One of the top five contemporary or alternative medicine practises people frequently employ, is meditation. Meditation releases accumulated stressors and enhances vitality, and improves mental health.  In addition, overall health improves.  Research shows that different meditation methods and the duration of meditation have different outcomes. Still, no matter how long a meditation session lasts or which technique or combination of techniques is practised, a person who practises meditation stands to gain more than one of the following benefits.

Stress reduction 

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in our endocrine system (a network of organs and glands). When we sense danger, cortisol increases and produces all the sensations associated with a "fight-or-flight  response" including; elevated blood pressure, tense muscles, and a feeling of nausea or vomiting. Meditation reduces cortisol levels, and with reduced cortisol comes stress reduction or the ability to cope in stressful conditions.3,5

Increased concentration and emotion regulation 

Emotion regulation are processes or activities that allow people to monitor, assess, and have some control over the course, nature, and expression of their emotions, which is a critical factor in anxiety and depression. Studies show that meditation duration spanning up to 40 minutes each day can help  improve our ability to concentrate on work and other activities. In addition, encourage better control over our emotions and how we process and express our feelings.4

Gene expression 

Humans are estimated to have around 20,000 - 25,000 genes which are the determinants of what traits or features you inherit from your parents (such as your height and eye colour). In a 3-month study of meditators, meditation was shown to have altered over 500 genes; 453 genes were down-regulated, and 48 genes were up-regulated. Genes that promote diseases that play crucial roles in carcinogenesis (the transformational process when healthy cells turn to cancer cells) were among the down-regulated genes.3 However, more research is needed to ascertain if meditation can be helpful in cancer prevention.5

Heart health and lower blood pressure 

Meditation helps to regulate heart rate and lower blood pressure. In a study examining how meditation affected exercise-induced myocardial ischemia in people with coronary artery disease. Researchers discovered that meditation substantially increased exercise tolerance and total workload. Furthermore, the long term effects of meditation can lower the risk of death, strokes, and heart attacks.3 

Pain management 

Some meditators also reported a higher threshold for chronic pain conditions after they included meditation into their lifestyle.6  Meditation has also been shown to help with pain and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause. Harvard medical school shares an exercise to control pain developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn.


Open meditation is a type of meditation technique that has been shown to enhance creativity by inducing divergent thinking.7 This is due to the effect of meditation on emotional control, concentration, decentering, and mindfulness. It increases our capacity for concentration, lowers judgmental fear, promotes open-minded thinking, and lessens negative self-conscious thought.

Reduction in binge eating 

Although meditation can’t cure binge eating disorder (BED), different studies showed that there was a reduction in the intensity of BED. This is because they had better control over their eating and because they became more aware of the cues for hunger and satiety. The studies also recorded improved body image positivity among participants.8

Improved efficiency 

Due to the level of focus and connection experienced during meditation, people who meditate notice they can pay more attention as they are able to concentrate better. Increasing your attention span improves efficiency both at work and in daily tasks.9

Enhanced sleep 

According to the Sleep Foundation, mindful meditation enhances sleep quality and causes less daytime disruption, particularly in older adults and people who are sleep deprived or have chronic insomnia.

Improved blood flow to the brain 

Meditation boosts the executive attentional network's efficacy, the frontal and anterior cingulate areas of the brain's regional cerebral blood flow, and the coherence of the electroencephalogram (EEG);3 all of which enhance the brain performance and improve brain functions such as memory, learnability, and language skills.

  • Delayed ageing: According to a study on how meditation affects ageing, long-term practitioners are much younger biologically than short-term practitioners and non-practitioners3

Ways to practise meditation

You may need the right conditions, state of mind, and timing to practise meditation effectively as a beginner. These conditions do not limit most intermediate and expert meditators because they can meditate anywhere and anytime as soon as they feel up to it. Mayo Clinic explains some elements of meditation and ways you can practise meditation daily; they include the following:

  • Set a time limit: You should set aside a particular time every day for your meditation session and then proceed to decide on a duration suitable to you
  • A comfortable position: meditation is not limited to sitting or lying down; find a posture  that works for you and which you can stay in for the duration of the meditation
  • A quiet place: You would require a quiet place to connect better to your deep inner Self. Being in a noisy place may make your mind wander or get you agitated, as does listening to loud music or the wrong genre may also disrupt your mind
  • Get rid of distractions: You should put your devices off or in aeroplane  mode because calls or notifications from your phone will distract you
  • Focus your attention: Focus on different areas of your body or an object within your surroundings. We will go into this in-depth in the next session
  • Relax your breathing: To maintain  fluidity, do not clench your shoulders or hold your breath for too long. Be aware of where you feel your breath most, whether in your nose or belly
  • Be open-minded: Do not have any expectations as you start; go with the flow and call your mind back when you notice it wandering without feeling guilt or shame. It is normal, your mind wanders during a session

Meditation types and side effects

There are about 52 different meditation techniques;1 however, we will be looking at some of the most common ones, and any side effects meditation may have.

Types of meditation

  • Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness is a state of consciousness that develops through deliberate attention, present-moment awareness, and lack of judgement. Zen meditation, Vipassana meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are a few mindfulness-based meditation techniques
  • Decentering: Closely related to mindfulness, decentering boosts our capacity to see ideas and feelings as fleeting mental processes rather than accurate representations of reality and the Self. Decentering fosters an objective and non-judging state of mind by not altering the specific content of mental occurrences, resulting in a more objective and judgement-free attitude toward the Self11
  • Visualisation meditation: Many people practise visualisation meditation to elevate their mood, lower their stress levels, and encourage inner tranquillity. This exercise involves all five senses and requires you to picture a scenario with as many details as possible vividly. You can also think about your mentor or someone dear to you and aim to emulate their traits. Another way to practise this technique could be to picture yourself achieving particular objectives to sharpen concentration and motivate yourself
  • Guided meditation: Due to its reliance on outside advice rather than internal guidance, this technique can be helpful for those new to meditation. In guided meditation, a teacher or skilled practitioner gently promotes the practice by offering sensory stimulation designed to inspire mental pictures and guide practitioners through looking within
  • Focused meditation: Utilising any five senses while concentrating is known as focused meditation. Many people read poems or sacred texts, give themselves time to think about their meaning in silence and believe this positively affects their well-being. Listening to calming or uplifting music, spoken word, spiritual music, moon gazing, and counting mala beads are all forms of focused meditation
  • Mantra meditation: Mantra meditation involves repeating a word or syllable silently or aloud. The most popular form of mantra meditation is transcendental meditation, in which the mantra fades toward the end of the session. You can create your own words of affirmation to yourself. You may make these chants while looking at yourself in the mirror in a manner that mimics you speaking to your deep inner Self. These words may be religious, secular, or something that holds meaning for  you. The Jesus Prayer in the Christian tradition, the holy name of God in Judaism, or the om mantra of Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions are examples of religious mantras. Aside from clinically standardised meditation (CSM), other extensively used forms of mantra meditation include Benson's relaxation response (RR) and Japa yoga. You can speak words that give you strength in your particular situation or state of mind, "I am successful, I am confident, and I've got this" is an all-time favourite self-affirmation
  • Spiritual meditation: Prayer is the most well-known and frequently used form of meditation. In most religious traditions, there are both spoken and written prayers. You can pray from your heart in your own words or say a prayer written by someone else. Some people do it alone or with their families at set times each day, also known as devotion
  • Movement meditation: This meditation technique involves meditation while deliberately making bodily movements. Training such as tai-chi, kung-fu, kendo, and karate incorporate meditation before and after each session. Yoga also has elements of meditation within it. Walking can also be a form of meditation; combining meditation with a walk is a productive and beneficial technique to unwind. This method can be applied anywhere you are taking a stroll while keeping your attention on the sights, sounds, and smells in your walking surroundings
  • Breathing meditation: This technique is also known as breathwork, and it is suitable for beginners because breathing is a natural function. Because breathing is a natural process, this approach is beneficial for beginners. As you breathe in and out, you focus on your breathing and note how long and deep each breath is. Concentrate on feeling and listening as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Breathe deeply and slowly. When your attention wanders, gently return your focus to your breathing. The goals of breathing meditations are to enhance oxygenation, strengthen the body, and remove toxins and  unfavourable thoughts and feelings from the body
  • Progressive relaxation (body scan meditation): In this method, you pay close attention to different parts of your body and try to recognize the many sensations you are experiencing within your body, such as tension, pain, warmth, or relaxation. Exercise your breathing while scanning your body, and visualise breathing heat or peace in and out of various bodily areas. An overall sense of serenity and relaxation can be encouraged via progressive relaxation. Additionally, it might lessen chronic pain. Some individuals utilise this kind of meditation to assist them in falling asleep because it gradually and steadily relaxes the body
  • Loving-kindness meditation: This way of meditation involves you thinking fondly of your family and friends with kindness, love, and compassion. This act may improve your sense of interpersonal connection

Side effects of meditation

At times, being alone in silence can be challenging even unpleasant. Sitting and meditation can occasionally trigger traumatic memories and experiences for those who have endured trauma, some of which may be decades old and for which they may not be emotionally ready. Furthermore, studies done between 1975 to 2019 to ascertain if there are any adverse effects associated with meditation show that a total of 1102 participants reported at least one type of adverse meditation event (MAE), with the majority of adverse events occurring during or right after the meditation practice or intervention. These adverse events included anxiety, depression, stress, and visual/auditory hallucinations.12,13

Things to remember

  • The easiest way to meditate is to concentrate on your breathing
  • Learning to meditate is a talent that takes practice. It is normal to experience anger and frustration when you try it for the first time. Keeping your mind on your goal and discipline may help you get through the initial stage
  • It's normal for your mind to wander during meditation, regardless of how long you've been practicing
  • How often you should meditate depends on what you hope to achieve through meditation. You may start with a 5-minute session twice a month and then increase it to a couple of times a week when and as needed
  • While trying to meditate effectively, remember that there is no right or wrong way to meditate; find what works for you and do it. As you get more comfortable, you can incorporate other methods and techniques
  • Simply becoming aware of the present moment during meditation lets us see what is forming and fading. We discover that serenity and stillness emerge from allowing thoughts to flow and go without attachment or attempting to cling to them. Over time, we know that frequently our minds become aware of thoughts and patterns14
  • Meditation can help your mental health, hormones, and pain management, but it should not replace your medication, procedure, or lifestyle recommended by your healthcare provider
  • Meditation may not be for everyone


There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to meditation; there is no right or wrong way to meditate, so find the technique that you are comfortable with and which will improve your reason for practising meditation. Do create time for yourself and not get fixated on making it work; pace yourself, give yourself time, and you will see the results of meditation.

It would help if you did not rely solely on meditation for any condition. You may have because meditation promises many health benefits, ranging from improved quality of life to helping with chronic pain, diabetes, sleep, memory, blood pressure, and stress reduction. Keep taking your prescribed medication if any underlying condition causes any of these symptoms, as meditation has limitations to what can and will not cure a health condition. 


  1. Matko K, Ott U, Sedlmeier P. What do meditators do when they meditate? Proposing a novel basis for future meditation research. Mindfulness [Internet]. 2021 Jul 1 [cited 2023 Aug 30];12(7):1791–811. Available from:
  2. Matko K, Sedlmeier P. What is meditation? Proposing an empirically derived classification system. Frontiers in Psychology [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2023 Aug 30];10. Available from:
  3. Sharma H. Meditation: Process and effects. Ayu [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Aug 30];36(3):233–7. Available from:
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  9. Sinha SS, Jain AK, Tyagi S, Gupta S, Mahajan AS. Effect of 6 months of meditation on blood sugar, glycosylated hemoglobin, and insulin levels in patients of coronary artery disease. Int J Yoga [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Aug 30];11(2):122–8. Available from:
  10. Kozasa EH, Sato JR, Lacerda SS, Barreiros MAM, Radvany J, Russell TA, et al. Meditation training increases brain efficiency in an attention task. NeuroImage [Internet]. 2012 Jan 2 [cited 2023 Aug 30];59(1):745–9. Available from:
  11. Kessel R, Gecht J, Forkmann T, Drueke B, Gauggel S, Mainz V. Exploring the relationship of decentering to health related concepts and cognitive and metacognitive processes in a student sample. BMC Psychology [Internet]. 2016 Mar 8 [cited 2023 Aug 30];4(1):11. Available from:
  12. Cebolla A, Demarzo M, Martins P, Soler J, Garcia-Campayo J. Unwanted effects: Is there a negative side of meditation? A multicentre survey. PLOS ONE [Internet]. 2017 Sep 5 [cited 2023 Aug 30];12(9):e0183137. Available from:
  13. Farias M, Maraldi E, Wallenkampf KC, Lucchetti G. Adverse events in meditation practices and meditation‐based therapies: a systematic review. Acta Psychiatr Scand [Internet]. 2020 Nov [cited 2023 Aug 30];142(5):374–93. Available from:
  14. Behan C. The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine [Internet]. 2020 Dec [cited 2023 Aug 30];37(4):256–8. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Chimezirim Ozonyiri

Bachelor of Science - BS, Microbiology, General, Tansian University, Nigeria

Chimezirim has several years of experience in the healthcare, non-profit, and education sectors. She is passionate about health promotion and began her journey into health and lifestyle writing over two years ago. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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