Is meditation good? What Science Says | by Claudia Feitosa-Santana

Is meditation good? What Science Says | by Claudia Feitosa-Santana

Meditation is an exercise in observing the present state, and it can also be the observation of the breath or thoughts that invade our minds. Contrary to what many people think, meditating is not emptying the mind; intrusion of thoughts is normal, part of practice, and occurs frequently, even for many monks.

There are several forms of meditation and everyone can find their own. Beyond mindfulness and zazen, for example. Breading or praying the rosary can also be considered meditative practices like running or surfing, it depends on the person. Being or not being a meditative practice can be quite subjective because it depends on who practices it.

There is no doubt that meditative practice is associated with improved quality of life, but it is important to know that many people do not feel well and have, for example, decreased sleep, increased anxiety or even attacks of panic. Studies to analyze its effects are just beginning, but we already have some important findings! Below you can check some of them.


Meditative practice can act to reduce or control the symptoms of depression. However, the number of sessions varies from patient to patient, as the effectiveness of meditation depends a lot on the profile of people, something that still is poorly understood, in addition to the severity of the disease. But most importantly: practicing meditation reduces the risk of developing depression, as well as reducing the risk of relapse for patients who have already had the disease.


Meditation seems to improve symptoms, but it is still not possible to say whether it changes the diagnosis. Again: it depends on the person’s profile and the type of disorder. Meditation may even be contraindicated for some people who have GAD and have never meditated and so it is recommended that it be initially supervised. On the other hand, just like for depression, meditation can be one of the preventive mechanisms, preventing the evolution of symptoms because it seems to help improve attention.

A group of Brazilian researchers evaluated the effect of attention on meditation: the non-meditation group was less efficient in a task that required a high attention load, compared to the meditators group (who already practiced meditation, on average, for more 8 years). This study also detected relevant differences in brain functioning between two groups.

Brain and Mind: Meditation can improve the way we function

Another Brazilian study found that women over 60 years of age who practiced yoga for at least 8 years had greater cortical thickness in a frontal region, which suggests that they had greater cognitive capacity, that is, greater ability to acquire knowledge in general. These Brazilian studies, along with many other international ones, lead us to believe that meditation can change our brain structure and our connections, improving the way we function.

Groups of healthy meditators seem to have less cortical loss with age, and patients who meditate and who have neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are in a better state than non-meditators.

I brought here just a few findings from recent studies. Although it seems obvious that meditation generally produces positive results, the evidence still points to relatively small or moderate effects. Of course, because it must be part of an entirely healthy attitude towards life; good nutrition, good nights sleep and regular physical activity.


Here is the list of references used to write this article, and also others that are extremely pertinent about meditation studies and that were not covered in the article or in the video:

Written by Feitosa-Santana

Leave a comment