It is not for nothing that the people meditated for wellness in ancient times. It is only now that advancement in medical research, particularly imaging technology, is bringing out verifiable and measurable evidence of the changes in brain and other parts of body during and after meditation. These studies prove beyond doubt that mindfulness meditation has direct and positive benefits on mind which, in turn, help a person to attain higher level mental health. Some of these benefits are listed below:

1. You have more and better preserved grey matter in old age

Studies have shown that the people who meditated for long-time period, say for 20 years or more, are more likely to have more grey matter volume throughout the brain than the non-meditators. This also means that the ageing process slows down with this practice. When compared with the young meditators, though, the loss of grey matter was noticeable but on comparing with non-meditators, there was more grey matters. This means that mindfulness increases the ability of brain to preserve grey matter better in old age. This is seen as a possible preventive measure for occurrence of many brain related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s where in memory loss is quite common.

2. You gain good control over a wandering mind

The research carried out in Yale University points to the fact that the activity of Default Mode Network (DMN) is reduced considerably after meditation. This reduction has the effect of reducing the ‘wandering’ nature of the mind. A wandering mind is not stable and is responsible for ruminating, worrying about future, not feeling good of past and not keeping happy overall. What mindfulness does is that it snaps the links whenever these thoughts again begin to crop up. By being alive to the present and not being judgmental about the thoughts that are coming by, you develop the experience of coming back whenever adverse and useless thoughts begin to come up again.
A John Hopkins study has found that with mindfulness meditation, there is reduction in stress, anxiety and depression levels. While the effect is only to the scale of 0.3, it is the same scale which is attained by anti-depressants.

3. You can improve concentration

One of the key aspects of meditation is that it improves the ability to focus. With higher levels of focus, there is more addition to cognitive ability and there is higher productivity where the focus is required, such as competitive exams. Therefore, it benefits both the students and all those workers where in sharpening of skills can be done with higher level of focus. Mindfulness not only increases the time span of concentration but also its intensiveness. A study by Stanford University has pointed out that the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program is able to help people with social anxiety.

4. You can get rid of addictive habits

In any interesting study to understand the effectiveness of mindfulness in addiction, mindfulness training was given to addicts and was compared with the conventional program of Freedom From Smoking of American Lung Association. At the end of training, it was found that the people who did mindfulness training were more likely to quit smoking.

5. Why to leave out kids from benefits of mindfulness?

Studies have also been conducted on school kids to gauge the impact of mindfulness meditation. On organizing yoga and meditation classes twice daily in a Los Angeles school, it was found that there was increased attendance and even the grades improved. The choice of schools was based on likelihood of high levels of stress exposure to children.

Similarly, mindfulness in workers has shown higher levels of productivity and quick addition of new learning skills. There was less tendency to go negative or unproductive work.

There have been many more studies conducted world over to know how mindfulness relates to mind. Its usefulness was established not only by the imaging of brain and noticing the changes happening in brain but also by improvements in psychological factors which were directly related to mindfulness.

Author's Bio: