Should you meditate? Understanding the benefits of the most controversial technique
Should you meditate? Understanding the benefits of the most controversial technique

Did you know that meditation is one of the most frequently researched areas of science? This is due to the fact that the benefits of meditation cannot be seen, so it still remains one of the most controversial techniques. We decided to understand the benefits of meditation from the point of view of science and see if there is any sense in the fact that we are meditating.

Should you meditate? Understanding the benefits of the most controversial technique
Should you meditate? Understanding the benefits of the most controversial technique

The only problem with meditation is that it is difficult to see any real benefit from it. With other good habits, it's much easier. I began to eat less - lost weight, began to work out in the gym - gained muscle mass. I started to meditate - so what? The lack of a visible result causes us to give up meditation. Although this habit takes almost no time, even 10-15 minutes a day is enough.

We decided to understand the benefits of meditation and how it affects the human brain and his body as a whole.

Who is Elizabeth Blackburn

The word "meditation" was first mentioned in the 12th century by the monk Guigo II. Of course, meditation as a spiritual practice appeared much earlier, but the word meditatio was first named at that time. The technique began to be popularized only in the 1950s, from India to the United States and Europe.

Such interest was understandable: the gurus of meditation talked about almost magical transformations of thinking, improving memory, rejuvenation and cessation of aging. Of course, many embellished, but identifying a lie was not so easy due to the placebo effect and the inability to see the real benefits of the process.

One of the first to connect meditation and science was the Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn. In the 1980s, Blackburn - repetitive sequences of the genetic code that protect it (genetic code - Ed.) From loss of information. Telomeres can change size, and the smaller they are, the higher the risk of various diseases: diabetes, obesity, stroke, Alzheimer's disease.

Returning to hers, Blackburn decided to look at telomeres from a different perspective and found that their size is proportional to the amount of stress a person receives. The more stress we experience in our lives, the smaller our telomeres become.

Blackburn and her colleagues examined the DNA of victims of child abuse, people with Alzheimer's disease and depression. Comparing the length of their telomeres with the telomeres of ordinary people, they once again confirmed their case.

The telomere length of people under stress was shorter than that of ordinary people.

This study shocked the scientific world, and other scientists also rushed to study telomeres and their effects on our health. It was later found that telomere length not only shrinks due to stress and hard living, but also increases due to exercise, proper nutrition and social support.

However, Blackburn moved farthest again. In 2011, another came out that linked telomeres and meditation. Nobody has tried to combine these two concepts before.

It turned out that meditation is the most effective activity in slowing down the destruction of telomeres and contributing to their enlargement.

As part of the study, a group of participants went on a three-month meditation course. The level of telomerase in their DNA after the end of the course was 30% higher than in the second group, who was just waiting for the trip.

How the brain changes after meditation

It's amazing how much that is new and turns everything upside down you can learn with just a little desire. In 2003, an American scientist, professor of psychology, Richard Davidson, spent trying to understand whether meditation affects the brain in the physical plane.

The study was long-term, and 25 people took part in it. The researchers measured the level of electromagnetic activity in the subjects three times:

  • before an eight-week meditation course;
  • immediately after the course;
  • four months after graduation.

The participants were divided into two groups, one of which completed an eight-week course, and the other did not. After the course, both groups were injected with a small amount of influenza virus.

The amplitude of the alpha waves in the meditating group turned out to be higher. Moreover, the organism of this group produced more antibodies for the influenza virus.

Alpha waves are a graphic representation of the electrical processes that take place in the brain. Alpha waves have the greatest amplitude in a state of calm wakefulness, especially with closed eyes in a darkened room. The larger the amplitude of the alpha waves, the less a person is exposed to stress, anger and bad mood. ()

In addition to the amplitude of the waves, the subjects also examined the physical state of the brain. It turned out that in the meditating group, the areas of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotions became denser.

How to stay awake for 40 years

After examining the effects on the brain and DNA, you can move on to a more mundane topic - sleep. Sleep is an integral part of our life, and we pay a great price for it - more than a third of all the time lived. But there is no other way. Or is it possible?

Paul Kern was a Hungarian soldier who fought in the First World War. In 1915, in one of the battles, he was wounded in the temple by a Russian soldier. The bullet hit the frontal lobe and separated part of it. After such a wound to the brain, a person cannot survive, but Paul succeeded. With only one strange consequence: he could no longer sleep.

From the moment of injury in 1915 until his death in 1955, Kern did not sleep and, in his own words, did not experience any difficulties in this regard. Kern's brain was examined many times, but the cause of the anomaly was never found.

Scientists have not been able to figure out what needs to be done to stay awake for so long (shooting yourself in the head does not count), but a number of other studies have shown that it is still possible to reduce the need for sleep.

During the experiment, 30 subjects were divided into two groups. In the first group there were beginners in meditation, in the second - those who have been practicing meditation for a long time. All participants were measured for their response rate to PVT 40 minutes before meditation, after meditation, and after naps.

PVT (psychomotor vigilance task) is a special task that measures the speed of a person's reaction to visual stimulation.

The results showed that the reaction rate accelerated after meditation (even in beginners) and slowed down in both groups after a short nap. it was also found that the participants in the second group required less sleep for proper rest.


Now that the benefits of meditation have been proven, we still have another problem. Despite the popularity of meditation in the West, we still consider it to be silly sitting in the lotus position. And just try not to hum "Om", then meditation is not considered successful.

However, there is still a long-term benefit from meditation, and, as you understand, this is proved not only by the words of the people who practice it, but also by numerous studies on this topic. It is scientifically proven that meditation:

  1. Increases telomere length while reducing stress, bad mood and depression.
  2. Increases the amplitude of the alpha waves.
  3. Promotes the densification of the areas of the brain responsible for learning, memory and emotions.
  4. Reduces the number of hours of sleep the body needs to rest.

I hope you have finished reading to the end before you start meditating.

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