5 Surprising Benefits of Meditation
by Kristin Deiss
I know you’ve heard of the benefits of meditation before.
It is 2020 after all.
But perhaps you are ready to begin your practice, to restart your practice, or to simply remind yourself of why you practice in the first place.
I’ll repeat, it is 2020 after all.
Whatever your reasons are, check out the 5 surprising benefits of meditation below to add some fuel to your meditation fire.
5 Surprising Benefits of Meditation
Woah, stop the presses. Meditation slows the aging process?!
Now, before you throw out all of your anti-wrinkle creams and jump for joy at the thought of having found the fountain of youth, know that meditation does slow down aging . . .
In a way.
For our brains.
Research has shown that the grey matter in our brains atrophies with age. In other words, it decreases in size the longer we are alive. But, when we meditate, we can actually better preserve our grey matter and slow this process.
Why is this important?
Because our grey matter is responsible for how our brains process information.
Wanna stay sharp? Want a young (ish) brain?
- Helps Us Let Go
Ever find yourself in a situation where you hold onto something just a little too long because you think that walking away, quitting, or letting go would devalue all of the hard work, energy, and time you put into it, even though it is clearly not working to your benefit?
Yea, me too.
This is what psychologists refer to as “sunk cost bias.” Basically, it’s how we talk ourselves into staying in a relationship/ job/situation that is no longer serving us.
Who wants to feel like they’ve wasted precious resources?
But perhaps more importantly, who wants to hold onto something that isn’t doing them any good?
Well, turns out that meditation helps to minimize the sunk cost bias and enables us to better decide when it’s time to leave and let go.
How? Through practicing turning our focus to the present, and away from both the past and future.
Wanna improve your decision-making skills when it comes to knowing when to hold versus knowing when to fold?
- Better Sleep
Do you regularly get at least seven hours of quality sleep a night?
(I can hear you laughing as I type this.)
If you answered no, you are not alone. In fact, you are in a pretty large crowd.
According to recent studies, 69% of high-schoolers and “more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis.”
And what’s more, stress oftentimes affects the quality of the little sleep we are getting.
That’s a lot of tired humans going about their day to day.
So why am I telling you this?
Because meditation can help to improve sleep through reducing stress and activating our parasympathetic nervous system. By slowing down our breathing, our heart rate, and blood pressure, meditation thereby improves our body’s ability to relax.
The more relaxed we are, the better we sleep.
And the better we sleep, the better able we are to slay the day!
Wanna improve your sleep?
- Heals Relationship to Food
I love food and I love eating, but like many dancers, I have struggled with it in the past.
As a dancer, I was constantly critiquing my appearance, my weight, my body. And on top of that, I knew others were as well.
But you don’t have to be a dancer to understand those pressures.
Whether you are looking to lose, gain, or maintain your weight or to simply make better choices when it comes to the food you put into your body, meditation can help.
Research shows that meditation improves mindfulness around eating habits by helping us become more aware and in tune with the needs of our body.
By teaching us to not act on every impulse or thought, meditation helps us to make better choices when it comes to what we eat, how much of it we eat, and when we eat. It helps us to exercise better judgement and to listen more to what we need.
Wanna heal your relationship to food?
- Improves Overall Holistic Health and Well-Being
Ok, this benefit isn’t surprising, but is still worth mentioning.
Just as we track the overall value of a car by looking at all aspects of it—the engine, the fluids, the suspension, the body—(is it obvious that I’m not a mechanic?), we must track our wellness in much the same way.
We will not function at our best if any part of us is not operating at its best.
So, what does holistic health look at? The whole self- mind, body, and soul.
And just from the few surprising benefits of meditation listed in this article, you can see how meditation affects our whole self.
Wanna improve your overall holistic health and well-being?
Are you inspired to meditate yet?
Do any of these 5 surprising benefits of meditation speak to you? Let me know why you meditate or want to start meditating by dropping a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
Kristin Deiss is a dancer, educator, yogi, healer, and mom trying to live her best life through helping others improve theirs.
She holds an MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and is a certified yoga teacher, Reiki Master, and Integrated Energy Practitioner.
Kristin is currently the Commercial Dance Chair at Hussian College Los Angeles and writes about overcoming failure on Stir the Sage. For inspiration, laughs, and cute pics of her toddler, follow her on Instagram.