We've all been told in one way or another -- by a friend, doctor or parent -- that meditating is good for the soul. The positive affirmations you recite to yourself repeatedly will help reduce stress levels and bring your mind the clarity it's so desperately seeking.
Most people have a basic understanding of what meditating entails and what the results are, but new studies have revealed something that surpasses all previous knowledge: It can physically alter your DNA.
Dr. Linda E. Carlson and her team's study, published in the Canadian journal Cancer, looked at the effects of meditation on breast cancer patients.
Specifically, they were focusing on the length of telomeres, which are the "the tiny protective caps on the end of chromosomes." Scientists and researchers sometimes liken them to the plastic tips on shoelaces. Easier to picture now, right?
The study involved three different groups: "The first group was randomly assigned to an 8-week cancer recovery program consisting of mindfulness meditation and yoga; the second to 12-weeks of group therapy in which they shared difficult emotions and fostered social support; and the third was a control group, receiving just a 6-hour stress management course." Each group had its blood carefully analyzed prior to the study.
At the conclusion, the 88 participants' blood samples were analyzed for telomere length and compared to their original sizes. The results found that both treatment groups (1 and 2) preserved telomere length, while the control group's was shortened.
So what are the other benefits of meditation?
It Teaches You To Practice Consistency
Unfortunately, the benefits that come from meditating don't come within just one session. This is not just a one-time fixer-upper, rather it needs to be practiced with consistency, which is sadly why so many people give up before receiving said benefits.
It Decreases Stress Levels
Life is stressful, there is no doubt about that. Between work, social life and family life, there is always something going on that can drive you crazy at any time.
It Increases Self-Awareness
Not only does meditation relax you, it makes you more self-aware, and isn't that something everyone could benefit from?
It Brings You Back To Your Center
It's easy to lose sight of the big picture when life is stressing you out. This is exactly why actively practicing against this is so helpful. Meditating helps you to remain in control of your emotions while keeping a level head.
It Encourages Overall Mental And Physical Health
Exercising your mind will make you want to exercise in all areas of your life. Meditating can keep you focused on a work-out routine while also keeping you motivated.
It Gives You A Better Way To Spend Your Free Time
You know those hours you spend in the blackhole that is social media? What if you practiced meditating instead? Imagine what you would learn about yourself instead of wasting your free time looking at pictures and statuses of people you don't really care about.
It Increases Your Focus
Meditating is not an easy task at first, which is why it takes diligence and commitment.
It Promotes Positive Thinking
The point of meditating is to relax, focus and think. When you sit and reflect on your life, the best way to go about it is positively and constructively.
It Helps You To Regain Perspective
We all get a little lost from time to time, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes you need something to help you get back on the right path, and meditation is definitely something that will help you along the way.
It Helps You Turn Your Brain Off
You are constantly thinking even when you have nothing to think about, finally you can put an end to those incessant thoughts.